The Confederates Have a Constitutional Rough Draft

Thursday, February 7, 1861

Things were picking up a bit in Montgomery, Alabama, where the Provisional Congress of the Confederate States was still in session. The open session saw the State of Alabama pledge a $500,000 loan for the formation of a provisional government. The secret session, however, moved just as quickly.

That afternoon, they hammered out a rough draft of The Constitution for the Provisional Government of the Confederate States of North America. While it followed the spirit of the United State Constitution, the wording was quite different.

While the US Constitution referred to slaves only as “Person[s] held to Service or Labour,” the rough draft of the Southern Constitution cut to the point, mentioning “slaves” several times. Special attention was given to Fugitive Slave Laws. They clarified and strengthened them by holding the state that the slave escaped into responsible for reimbursing the owner of said slave.

While the US Constitution allowed the outlawing of the African slave trade starting in the year 1808, the rough draft of the Confederate Constitution banned it outright. Though they could certainly purchase slaves from other Confederate states, purchasing slaves from states still true to the Union was forbidden.

This was all merely an outline. The final version would come soon enough with more similarities to the United States Constitution as well as further changes.1

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The Choctaw Indian Nation resided in the southeastern corner of what would become Oklahoma Territory. Being so far south (and knowing what they knew of their own history), they could not count on the support or protection of the United States. They therefore passed a series of resolutions.

First, they expressed “great solicitude” over the “unhappy political disagreement between Northern and Southern States.” They hoped that a peaceful outcome could soon be reached.

However… if a final dissolution took place, they would have to side with the South. “We shall be left to follow the natural affections, education, institutions, and interests of our people, which indissolubly bind us in every way to the destiny of our neighbors and brethren of the Southern States upon whom we are confident we can rely for the preservation of our rights of life, liberty, and property, and the continuance of many acts of friendship, general counsel, and material support.”2

There is a long history and good story here if one would find the time to dig into it.

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Also on this date, the Richmond Daily Dispatch reported that there were a multitude of names being suggested for the new nation.

Among those suggested our contemporary mentions the following; “Apalachian League,” “Apalachia,” “Alleghania,” “Columbia,” “Chicora,” “Fredonia,”3 “Washington League,” “Washington States,” “Atlanta, “”Augusta,” “Carolana,” “Florida,” “Georgia,” “Alabama,” “Louisiana,” “Carolina,” “Georgia League,” “Georgia Confederacy, ” &c. That is certainly a pretty good list to choose from; but then a rose by any name will smell as sweet. Therefore any short name will be as satisfactory.



  1. Journal of the Congress of the Confederate States of America, 1861-1865, Volume 1 []
  2. The Slaveholding Indians: The American Indian as Slaveholder and Secessionist by Annie Heloise Abel, Arthur H. Clark co., 1915. []
  3. Hail, Hail, Fredonia! []

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