chapter  X
X The Crisis of the Union
Pages 28

Southerners so revered the Constitution that the seceding states brought most of it with them when they left the Union. The constitution adopted by the Confederacy in 1861 was almost a carbon copy of the original document. But the preamble left no doubt that they considered it a compact for confederation, not a charter creating a sovereign national state. Instead of the ringing phrase “We the People of the United States,” it began with “We the People of the Confederate States, each State acting in its sovereign and independent character,” making it clear that the states surrendered none of their sovereign rights to the new Confederate government. Other signifi cant changes refl ected past southern grievances, such as the prohibition of protective tariffs and a ban on transportation improvements at public expense. There was also a provision limiting the president to a single six-year term. Although it legalized slavery in any territories acquired by the Confederacy, it prohibited the maritime slave trade out of deference to public opinion in Europe. There were provisions for the separation of powers and for checks and balances, and all the rights guaranteed by the Bill of Rights were incorporated into the main body of the document. Although the Constitution of the United States no longer applied in the eleven states of the Confederacy, the principles of constitutional government remained very much in force.