Today in Civil War History
1861 Provisional Confederate Congress convenes
The Confederate State of America is open for business when the Provisional Congress convenes in Montgomery, Alabama.
The official record read: "Be it remembered that on the fourth day of February, in the year of our Lord, one thousand eight hundred and sixty-one, and in the Capitol of the State of Alabama, in the city of Montgomery, at the hour of noon, there assembled certain deputies and delegates from the several independent South State of North America..."
The first order of business was drafting a constitution. They used the U.S. Constitution as a model, and most of it was taken verbatim. It took just four days to hammer out a tentative document to govern the new nation. The president was limited to one six-year term. Unlike the U.S. Constitution, the word "slave" was used and the institution protected in all states and any territories to be added later. Importation of slaves was prohibited, as this would alienate European nations and would detract from the profitable "internal slave trade" in the South. Other components of the constitution were designed to enhance the power of the states--governmental money for internal improvements was banned and the president was given a line-item veto on appropriations bills.
The Congress then turned its attention to selecting a president. The delegates settled on Jefferson Davis, a West Point graduate who was the U.S. Secretary of War in the 1850s and a senator from Mississippi.