A Short History of the Confederate States of America by Jefferson DavisIn a TV interview, novelist Shelby Foote said, “the kind of country we are emerged from the American Civil War…It truly is the outstanding event in American history insofar as making us what we are….It defined us. It said what we’re gonna be, and it said what we’re not gonna be.” Before the War, the United States of America were truly that—a collection of states, a collection of free and independent nation states. After the Civil War, there was just one nation called the United States, a collection of provinces of one large continent-spanning polity. The federal government was from that point on, the government of the American people.
When I attended Georgia Tech, Professor Gaston, my American history professor, only half-jokingly referred to the conflict as “the War of Yankee Aggression,” but he was completely serious when he taught the South had the Constitutional right to secede. In fact, the statement of the right to self-determination preceded even the Constitution, going back to the Declaration of Independence itself. Thus, the South was most emphatically not in “rebellion” but were exercising their legal right to secede, and the North’s efforts to coerce the South to remain in the Union were illegal and against the principals Americans were supposed to hold most dear. Thus, at the time of the war, Southerners referred to the conflict as the Southern War of Independence.
All this came back to mind when I read A Short History of the Confederate States of America, by Confederacy president Jefferson Davis. The first quarter of the book details Davis’ arguments for the legality of what the Southern states were attempting, and the complete illegality—the complete disregard of the Declaration of Independence, the original Articles of Confederation, the United States Constitution, and U.S. case law—of Northern politicians and President Lincoln’s actions. When I began reading Jefferson’s history, I at first grew a little impatient with the length Jefferson gives to his arguments, but then I realized I’d read many accounts of the battles of the Civil War, but had never read a Southerner’s justification for the war in such detail, and in such well-laid out, step-by-step reasoning.
When Jefferson finally begins chronicling the events of the war, I noticed this was unlike most accounts. First of all, it was from a unique viewpoint, from the one-and-only Confederate president and commander-in-chief, and included discussion of political, diplomatic, and economic matters as well as military actions. I was also struck by how much “honor” mattered to Davis, to the point of decrying the lack of honor on the part of the Federal war effort. The American Civil War is often said to be the first modern war in which the only thing that matters is ultimate victory—Lincoln (and his generals such as Grant, Sherman, and Sheridan) understood this perfectly, but Davis apparently did not. Or if he did, he was reluctant to embrace it.
Lest this review sound too glowing about Jefferson Davis, I also noticed the pages of his account are overflowing with accounts of Northern barbarity, to the point of hysterical—or at least hyperbolic—overstatement (the actions of the Federal troops and their commanders are said to be totally beyond the ken of civilized men, surpassing the atrocities committed by Attila the Hun or Genghis Khan). But he is noticeably silent on similar Southern actions. For example, in his account of the fall of Fort Pillow, he completely ignores Nathan Bedford Forrest’s massacre of black Federal troops after they surrendered, and he places the blame for the treatment of Federal prisoners at Andersonville on the shoulders of Northern leaders. And then there’s the elephant in Davis’ parlor, the whole issue of slavery, which Davis writes of as strictly a matter of property rights, not the rights of subjugated human beings who ought to be free.
Another quirky aspect of Davis’ viewpoint is his way of playing up each Confederate victory (of which there were of course many), and downplaying Union ones. In his descriptions, each Southern victory is the natural result of Southern manhood and excellence of character, and each Northern victory is only due to overwhelming superiority of numbers and/or conditions disadvantageous to the South over which the Southern commanders had no control. (The image which irresistibly came to my mind was that the Confederates were the noble, honorable Men and Elves fighting the despicable, evil, seemingly endless hordes of Orcs.) After reading accounts of so many battles from this viewpoint, I marveled that the North ever triumphed at all.
But flawed and subjective as Davis’ account is, that is precisely what I found fascinating about A Short History of the Confederate States of America. For any serious student of the American Civil War (or, as it was once referred in the Atlanta Constitution newspaper, “the recent unpleasantness between the States), this should be required reading. It also would be of benefit to current “social justice warriors” who cannot abide any opinions which differ from their own, judging such opinions evil, and who want to tear down monuments to Confederate leaders such as Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee (who was not fighting to preserve slavery, but was fighting to repel invaders and despoilers of his native Virginia). If such SJWs would read Davis’ account with an open mind (which is difficult for me to imagine), he or she might see how a differing opinion—even one that ultimately supports an institution such as chattel slavery—can still be honorable and not evil. I’ll end this review as I started it, with another quote from Shelby Foote, who said, “There’s a great compromise [in this country]…It consists of Southerners admitting—freely—that it’s probably best that the Union wasn’t divided, and the North admits, rather freely, that the South fought for a cause in which it believed.”
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Confederate States Facts & Worksheets
Jamie Frater , Updated September 3, I made this list in order to clear up some misconceptions people had about the Confederacy. Overall, I intended for this to be a fun and informative list, and not to start a North versus South debate. Union troops were primarily city and town dwellers. They named battles after natural objects near the scene of the conflict. Confederate troops were, chiefly, from the country and named battles after impressive artificial man-made objects near the scene of the conflict. There were at least actions that were known to have more than one name.
It was established in by seven southern states in which slavery was legal, after Abraham Lincoln was elected president of the U. The first capital of the Confederacy was Montgomery, Alabama , but for most of the war the capital was Richmond, Virginia. The government of the Confederacy was much like the United States government. The Confederate States Constitution was similar to that of the United States ; however, it emphasized states rights and clearly protected the enslavement of black Americans. The United States government also known as the Union did not agree that the states could leave and start a new government. Thus, the Union government refused to abandon all its forts in the states that wanted to secede.
The Confederate States of America was a collection of 11 states that seceded from the United States in following the election of President.
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Confederate Vice President Alexander H. Stephens described its ideology as being centrally based "upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man ; that slavery , subordination to the superior race, is his natural and normal condition". Before Lincoln took office in March, a new Confederate government was established in February which was considered illegal by the government of the United States. States volunteered militia units, and the new government hastened to form its own Confederate States Army from nothing practically overnight. The Confederacy later accepted Missouri and Kentucky as members, although neither officially declared secession nor were they ever largely controlled by Confederate forces; Confederate shadow governments attempted to control the two states but were later exiled from them. The government of the United States the Union rejected the claims of secession, considering it illegitimate.
Many elements of Civil War scholarship are still hotly debated. The facts on this page are based on the soundest information available. The war ended in Spring, Robert E. Lee surrendered the last major Confederate army to Ulysses S.