Restricted Analyzing the Confederate Constitution

MattL

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Way overplayed, this thing about "period" morals. It's an attempt to equate period morals with period acceptance levels, which do change over time and between various cultures.*

The only aspect being considered here however is what was constitutionally legal.


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* Humans born into any age or culture have an innate moral compass. It can be supplanted with enough societal pressure, the popular acceptance level. For instance, killing one's child is innately immoral but in certain societies becomes acceptable as a religious sacrifice. For another instance, Americans North and South accepted slavery despite their innate moral compass directing them that it was wrong. Acceptance leads to permission, permission sometimes to horror.

If you are arguing for an innate moral compass as you suggest then you're talking with the wrong person. I think that's make believe. What one group or person considers extremely moral another thinks completely immoral. More of human history is full of concepts of defined superiority and inferiority between other humans and living being than the concept of universal equality. In fact universal quality is a fandangled new idea in regards to human history. Much of human history in fact believed that tiers or castes of people existed and it was in fact moral to give the different groups different rights and immoral to do otherwise.

You say what they believed was moral wasn't in fact morals, yet many of them actually used the exact term moral and the exact concepts. I can either believe the people of the time or believe you about what they actually believed. You can guess which I choose. I'm sorry I don't buy your invented terms compared to the actual contemporary terms uses in their actual contexts.

As to only talking about what is legal or constitutional, there are countless threads considering many other aspects of this time period, including many great discussions and some great threads (especially by @ForeverFree) about the groups in the North that believed slavery was in fact immoral at this time and was a motivator in their actions.

With any proper study of history you will see a detachment from modern morals however. The exception being an article, study, comments, discussion specifically centered on considering the past within the context of the modern etc.
 

jgoodguy

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If you are arguing for an innate moral compass as you suggest then you're talking with the wrong person. I think that's make believe. What one group or person considers extremely moral another thinks completely immoral. More of human history is full of concepts of defined superiority and inferiority between other humans and living being than the concept of universal equality. In fact universal quality is a fandangled new idea in regards to human history. Much of human history in fact believed that tiers or castes of people existed and it was in fact moral to give the different groups different rights and immoral to do otherwise.

You say what they believed was moral wasn't in fact morals, yet many of them actually used the exact term moral and the exact concepts. I can either believe the people of the time or believe you about what they actually believed. You can guess which I choose. I'm sorry I don't buy your invented terms compared to the actual contemporary terms uses in their actual contexts.

As to only talking about what is legal or constitutional, there are countless threads considering many other aspects of this time period, including many great discussions and some great threads (especially by @ForeverFree) about the groups in the North that believed slavery was in fact immoral at this time and was a motivator in their actions.

With any proper study of history you will see a detachment from modern morals however. The exception being an article, study, comments, discussion specifically centered on considering the past within the context of the modern etc.
Good points and I'd add that a discussion of morals is a tar or sand pit to deal with sucking participants down there is literally a universe of viewpoints and opinions. It is philosophy or theology either of which I love to debate, but most folks figuring they have the answer get disappointed very soon into it.

IMHO if the history of slavery is represented by a 24 hour clock, then the idea that slavery is somehow evil gains traction in the last 5 minutes.
 

Andersonh1

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http://law2.wlu.edu/deptimages/Law Review/68-2White.pdf

One reason why the original seven secessionist states were able to form a confederated government so quickly was that their delegates, once assembled in convention, adopted the text of the Constitution of the United States as their template for the Confederacy’s constitution. The eventual document that became the Constitution of the Confederate States of America retained far more of the text of the U.S. Constitution than it changed. The use of the Constitution as a template for the formal organization of the Confederacy is revealing in itself, demonstrating how deeply residents of the American South had internalized most of the substantive and structural principles set forth in the 1789 Constitution and its first twelve Amendments. It was as if, on the whole, delegates from the secessionist states were satisfied with the government the founding generation had created.​
If the text of the U.S. Constitution in 1804 is compared with that of the Confederate Constitution drafted in 1861, it becomes apparent that the delegates to the Confederacy’s constitutional convention made relatively few changes to the 1804 document. Some of those changes, however, were highly revealing of the sort of government the delegates envisaged the Confederate States of America would become.​
Although the changes were scattered throughout the text of the Confederate Constitution, they were animated by a single overriding concern: The Constitution of the Confederate States of America was to be founded on the principle that states were the primary unit of government. Not only was the sovereignty of the states to prevail over that of any confederated government they formed, the rights of individuals were to be understood principally as rights possessed by citizens of states. Thus, the preamble to the Confederate Constitution substituted, for the opening words of the U.S. Constitution ("We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union"), the phrase "We, the people of the Confederate States, each state in its sovereign and independent character, in order to form a permanent Federal Government." The version employed by the Confederate delegates emphasized the "sovereign and independent character" of states and the association of individuals with them, and made it clear that the government of the Confederacy was being created out of the sovereign power of states.​
Changes made to the Ninth and Tenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution provided further evidence of the importance of state sovereignty to the Confederate drafters. Versions of those two amendments became clauses of a new Article VI in the Confederate Constitution. Clause 5 of that article was a modification of the Ninth Amendment: "The enumeration, in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people of the several states." Clause 6 was a version of the Tenth Amendment: "The powers not delegated to the Confederate States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the states, respectively, or to the people thereof." The addition of the modifying phrases "of the several states" in Clause 5 and "thereof" in Clause 6 precluded a possible reading of individual citizenship in the Confederacy as existing independent of state citizenship, or of the Confederate government as representing a national entity to which individuals might adhere irrespective of their association with states.​
 

Andersonh1

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More from the above source:

There were other changes in the Confederate Constitution which were less explicitly concerned with affirming the principle of state sovereignty, but nonetheless demonstrated an intention to check any tendencies on the part of federal institutions to aggrandize themselves. Those included provisions establishing executive branch representation in the Confederate Congress and an executive line-item veto over Congressional legislation, limiting presidential terms to six years, not subject to reelection, and requiring that the executive initiate and two-thirds of both houses of Congress approve any appropriations made from the federal treasury. Perhaps the most pointed example of the drafters’ concern about unchecked federal power was a provision that, after granting Congress the power to "establish post-offices and post routes," added that "the expenses of the Post Office Department, after the [first] day of March, in the year of our Lord eighteen hundred and sixty-three, shall be paid out of its own revenues." The framers of the Confederate Constitution not only wanted a limited general government, they wanted, wherever possible, a general government whose expenses were directly accountable and whose departments kept a vigilant eye on one another.​
 

Andersonh1

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On the question of free states being added to the CS:

The treatment of slavery in new territories had been the central issue engendering sectional discord, and that issue remained on the delegates’ minds as they created the Confederacy. They hoped that the Confederacy would acquire new territories from the existing federal territory within the borders of the United States, or possibly from other states in the Union, as well as from other places. They also hoped that slavery would flourish in all the territories that were acquired. But they could not know that this would be so. It was possible that a majority of the residents of a new territory, on seeking admission to the Confederate States of America, would not be slave-owners, or might not be disposed toward encouraging the growth of slavery in their region, or might even be prepared to enact a state constitution abolishing slavery. Nowhere in the Confederate Constitution was there a provision requiring the states that joined it to maintain slavery. That would have been inconsistent with the principle of state sovereignty.​
Yet the seven secessionist states that met to create the Confederacy left the Union primarily because their residents feared that the national government of the United States would prohibit slavery’s spread into new territories and would eventually seek to abolish it in the states where it had become established. How were the drafters to avoid compelling territories who joined the Confederacy as new states to establish slavery— an apparent violation of the state sovereignty principle—but at the same time reaffirm the Confederacy’s commitment to the proposition that the right of slaveowners to own property in slaves could not be infringed?​
The new Clause 3 that the drafters added to Section 3 of Article IV of the Confederate Constitution addressed that dilemma. It provided:​
The Confederate States may acquire new territory; and Congress shall have power to legislate and provide governments for the inhabitants of all territory belonging to the Confederate States, lying without the limits of the several States; and may permit them, at such times, and in such manner as it may by law provide, to form States to be admitted into the Confederacy. In all such territory, the institution of negro slavery, as it now exists in the Confederate States, shall be recognized and protected by Congress and by the territorial government; and the inhabitants of the several Confederate States and Territories shall have the right to take to such Territory any slaves lawfully held by them in any of the States or Territories of the Confederate States.​
The clause reaffirmed the legitimacy of "the institution of negro slavery" in a document that had already prohibited the Confederate government from abolishing it, but stopped short of conditioning admission of new states into the Confederacy on those states not abolishing slavery. How could slavery be "recognized and protected by Congress and the territorial government," yet not be made a condition of entry into the Confederacy? The answer, for those who drafted the Confederate Constitution, was that territories were the common property of all the Confederate states, not of the federal government, and thus unless the federal government had been delegated the power to condition admission of new states on their having instituted slavery, it could not make that a requirement. On the other hand the federal government had been required to recognize and protect slavery in the territories. Thus, the drafters of the Confederate Constitution simultaneously hoped for the best with respect to the spread of slavery in any new territories the Confederacy might acquire and prepared themselves for the day when they might need to add some states without slavery into their nation.​
 

unionblue

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On the question of free states being added to the CS:

The treatment of slavery in new territories had been the central issue engendering sectional discord, and that issue remained on the delegates’ minds as they created the Confederacy. They hoped that the Confederacy would acquire new territories from the existing federal territory within the borders of the United States, or possibly from other states in the Union, as well as from other places. They also hoped that slavery would flourish in all the territories that were acquired. But they could not know that this would be so. It was possible that a majority of the residents of a new territory, on seeking admission to the Confederate States of America, would not be slave-owners, or might not be disposed toward encouraging the growth of slavery in their region, or might even be prepared to enact a state constitution abolishing slavery. Nowhere in the Confederate Constitution was there a provision requiring the states that joined it to maintain slavery. That would have been inconsistent with the principle of state sovereignty.​
Yet the seven secessionist states that met to create the Confederacy left the Union primarily because their residents feared that the national government of the United States would prohibit slavery’s spread into new territories and would eventually seek to abolish it in the states where it had become established. How were the drafters to avoid compelling territories who joined the Confederacy as new states to establish slavery— an apparent violation of the state sovereignty principle—but at the same time reaffirm the Confederacy’s commitment to the proposition that the right of slaveowners to own property in slaves could not be infringed?​
The new Clause 3 that the drafters added to Section 3 of Article IV of the Confederate Constitution addressed that dilemma. It provided:​
The Confederate States may acquire new territory; and Congress shall have power to legislate and provide governments for the inhabitants of all territory belonging to the Confederate States, lying without the limits of the several States; and may permit them, at such times, and in such manner as it may by law provide, to form States to be admitted into the Confederacy. In all such territory, the institution of negro slavery, as it now exists in the Confederate States, shall be recognized and protected by Congress and by the territorial government; and the inhabitants of the several Confederate States and Territories shall have the right to take to such Territory any slaves lawfully held by them in any of the States or Territories of the Confederate States.​
The clause reaffirmed the legitimacy of "the institution of negro slavery" in a document that had already prohibited the Confederate government from abolishing it, but stopped short of conditioning admission of new states into the Confederacy on those states not abolishing slavery. How could slavery be "recognized and protected by Congress and the territorial government," yet not be made a condition of entry into the Confederacy? The answer, for those who drafted the Confederate Constitution, was that territories were the common property of all the Confederate states, not of the federal government, and thus unless the federal government had been delegated the power to condition admission of new states on their having instituted slavery, it could not make that a requirement. On the other hand the federal government had been required to recognize and protect slavery in the territories. Thus, the drafters of the Confederate Constitution simultaneously hoped for the best with respect to the spread of slavery in any new territories the Confederacy might acquire and prepared themselves for the day when they might need to add some states without slavery into their nation.​

In reading all the Confederate States state constitutions, which one permitted the abolishing of slavery?
 
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Article I, Section 9, Clause 1 of the CSA Constitution reads as follows:

"The importation of negroes of the African race from any foreign country other than the slaveholding States or Territories of the United States of America, is hereby forbidden; and Congress is required to pass such laws as shall effectually prevent the same."

Article I, Section 9, Clause 1 of the USA Constitution reads as follows:

"The migration or importation of such persons as any of the states now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a tax or duty may be imposed on such importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each person"

So the Confederate States Constitution explicitly and emphatically outlawed the hideous and barbaric practice of international slave-trafficking, whereas the US Constitution explicitly and emphatically protected that monstrous commerce. Worse still, the US Constitution used the protection of this grisly endeavor to generate tax revenue. And given the aggressive slave-trading enterprises of the New Yorkers and New Englanders, they generated quite a bit of money. So it's an interesting analysis.
 

unionblue

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Article I, Section 9, Clause 1 of the CSA Constitution reads as follows:

"The importation of negroes of the African race from any foreign country other than the slaveholding States or Territories of the United States of America, is hereby forbidden; and Congress is required to pass such laws as shall effectually prevent the same."

Article I, Section 9, Clause 1 of the USA Constitution reads as follows:

"The migration or importation of such persons as any of the states now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a tax or duty may be imposed on such importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each person"

So the Confederate States Constitution explicitly and emphatically outlawed the hideous and barbaric practice of international slave-trafficking,

With the idea that such a ban would keep the local slave producing population profitable. And please try not to forget there were ongoing efforts to reopen the slave trade in the Confederacy, especially South Carolina.

whereas the US Constitution explicitly and emphatically protected that monstrous commerce.

At the insistence of those angelic, slaveholding Southerners, who held the ratification hostage to maintaining slavery for as long as possible. Target your rage against the real offenders.

Worse still, the US Constitution used the protection of this grisly endeavor to generate tax revenue. And given the aggressive slave-trading enterprises of the New Yorkers and New Englanders, they generated quite a bit of money. So it's an interesting analysis.

An analysis that has gaping holes, blind eyes to unfortunate facts, and a bit of one-sided viewing.

Unionblue
 

GwilymT

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Article I, Section 9, Clause 1 of the CSA Constitution reads as follows:

"The importation of negroes of the African race from any foreign country other than the slaveholding States or Territories of the United States of America, is hereby forbidden; and Congress is required to pass such laws as shall effectually prevent the same."

Article I, Section 9, Clause 1 of the USA Constitution reads as follows:

"The migration or importation of such persons as any of the states now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a tax or duty may be imposed on such importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each person"

So the Confederate States Constitution explicitly and emphatically outlawed the hideous and barbaric practice of international slave-trafficking, whereas the US Constitution explicitly and emphatically protected that monstrous commerce. Worse still, the US Constitution used the protection of this grisly endeavor to generate tax revenue. And given the aggressive slave-trading enterprises of the New Yorkers and New Englanders, they generated quite a bit of money. So it's an interesting analysis.

The US Constitution forbade congress from outlawing the slave trade for some years. This was done at the request of the southern delegates. As soon as the time limit had expired, congress banned the slave trade. It is a stain on the United States that this was necessary to secure the southern states’ ratificaction of the Constitution. Welcome back by the way.
 
Joined
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The US Constitution forbade congress from outlawing the slave trade for some years. This was done at the request of the southern delegates. As soon as the time limit had expired, congress banned the slave trade. It is a stain on the United States that this was necessary to secure the southern states’ ratificaction of the Constitution. Welcome back by the way.

"The US Constitution forbade congress from outlawing the slave trade for some years."

Indeed it did. So the New Yorkers and New Englanders could continue the barbaric practice of slave-trading.
 

GwilymT

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"The US Constitution forbade congress from outlawing the slave trade for some years."

Indeed it did. So the New Yorkers and New Englanders could continue the barbaric practice of slave-trading.

Please support your claim that this provision in the constitution was instituted so that “New Yorkers and New Englanders” could continue the trade. If this is the case, you should have no shortage of sources.
 

unionblue

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A reply that denies the stone-cold facts, hides from the truth, and distorts the historical reality.

Not really.

We have the ratification of the US Constitution being threatened by the slaveholding states who insist their peculiar institution be not threatened or interfered/stopped until 1808.

We then see South Carolina push hard to reopen the transatlantic slave trade during the Confederate bickering over it's constitution. Virginia wants no reopening because it makes a decided profit selling slaves to the other Confederate states.

It's all there in the historical paper trail.
 

unionblue

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"The US Constitution forbade congress from outlawing the slave trade for some years."

Indeed it did. So the New Yorkers and New Englanders could continue the barbaric practice of slave-trading.

A practice they could not have continued without buyers for their human cargo.

As it has been pointed out before, No Yankee slave ship captain ever had to hold a pistol to a slave trader's head in Charleston to force him to buy his cargo of slaves.

But we digress.

The Confederate Constitution did something the US Constitution never did. Condoned human slavery, protected it, and even forced any state in the future who joined it to become a slaveholding state.

So much for "States Rights."

Unionblue
 

OpnCoronet

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It is interesting, to me, that while I tend to agree that the Confederate Constituution was, and, was meant to be built upon the ideal of 'states right', I find it incongruous and counterintuitive that the right of all citizens of the confederacy to own slaves would be guaranteed by the Federal gov't and not that of the the individual states of that confederacy.
 

ForeverFree

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Article I, Section 9, Clause 1 of the CSA Constitution reads as follows:

"The importation of negroes of the African race from any foreign country other than the slaveholding States or Territories of the United States of America, is hereby forbidden; and Congress is required to pass such laws as shall effectually prevent the same."

Article I, Section 9, Clause 1 of the USA Constitution reads as follows:

"The migration or importation of such persons as any of the states now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a tax or duty may be imposed on such importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each person"

So the Confederate States Constitution explicitly and emphatically outlawed the hideous and barbaric practice of international slave-trafficking, whereas the US Constitution explicitly and emphatically protected that monstrous commerce. Worse still, the US Constitution used the protection of this grisly endeavor to generate tax revenue. And given the aggressive slave-trading enterprises of the New Yorkers and New Englanders, they generated quite a bit of money. So it's an interesting analysis.

The United States Constitution says that "The migration or importation of such persons as any of the states now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the year" 1808. The Constitution was an agreement among the several states, including VA, NC, SC, and GA, all of which were part of the new Confederate States of America.

The Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves of 1807 stated that no new slaves were permitted to be imported into the United States. It took effect in 1808, the earliest date permitted by the United States Constitution. This was counter to the interests of shippers in the North, but it was implemented regardless of the impact on them.

This law was passed decades before the CSA even existed. The CSA was not doing anything new, it simply continued a policy that was set by the United States ~ thanks, USA! If not for the example set by the USA, the CSA might well have allowed importation, and there was some debate about reversing the import ban in the new CSA. No doubt retaining the ban made it easier for VA to join the Confederacy after Sumter, as VA was a slave breeding state.

- Alan
 
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WJC

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If not for the example set by the USA, the CSA might well have allowed importation, and there was some debate about reversing the import ban in the new CSA.
Indeed, this provision was a defeat for Robert Rhett and others who had spent the decade of the 1850s arguing for a resumption of the international slave trade.
It became part of the rebel 'constitution' not because of a newfound morality, but solely because of politics, as you point out. It was intended to influence Virginia, making the new confederation more appealing for their interests.
 

Unforgiven

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I fail to see what the hubbub is over whether the CSA would or would not admit a free state.

If a free state were to be admitted to the CSA, the second a slave owner entered the state with a slave, the free state status is lost, temporarily at least, until the slave owner and slave leave the state. If said slave owner and slave moved to the free state permanently, the free state status is lost permanently.

Much ado about nothing, it seems to be.
 

ForeverFree

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If a free state were to be admitted to the CSA, the second a slave owner entered the state with a slave, the free state status is lost, temporarily at least, until the slave owner and slave leave the state.

This does not appear to be true, according the CSA Constitution:

ARTICLE IV
Sec. 2. (I) The citizens of each State shall be entitled to all the privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States; and shall have the right of transit and sojourn in any State of this Confederacy, with their slaves and other property; and the right of property in said slaves shall not be thereby impaired.

- Alan
 
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