I consider myself to be a Civil War history buff, and I tend to read a lot about the war, especially when it comes to events that involved my Civil War ancestors. Several years ago, I happened to read an article about the ways in which the Confederate Constitution contrasted with the United States Constitution, and it occurred to me that I’d actually never read the Confederate Constitution. I set out to remedy that situation by adding the Confederate Constitution to my official “bucket list.”
About a year ago, I read in a Facebook group about Civil War books that Thomas R. Flagel’s book, “The History Buff’s Guide to the Civil War,” actually contained a complete copy of the Confederate Constitution, which prompted me to by the book. Last November, I took the time to read this excellent book, but was disappointed to discover that it doesn’t actually contain a complete copy of the Confederate Constitution. It does contain a chapter that provides an excellent analysis of the Confederate Constitution and how it differed from the U.S. Constitution. (If you’ve never read Flagel’s book, I highly recommend it.)
After reading that book, I sort of put the Confederate Constitution on the backburner until my interest in the subject was once again sparked, this time by an article in a recent issue of Confederate Veteran, a membership publication of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. A day or so later, I did something that I probably should have done to begin with, I turned to Google. A search for the Confederate Constitution there led me to the Web site, www.civilwarhome.com.
That Web site features a complete copy of the CSA Constitution at http://www.civilwarhome.com/csconstitution.html, and when I printed it out, it was about 18 pages long. In all, it took me about an hour to read, and it was generally easy reading. I’ve read the U.S. Constitution several times before, so I pretty much knew what to expect before I got started.
The thing that I liked most about the version of the CSA Constitution I found online is that [within brackets] it showed where and how this constitution differed from the U.S. Constitution. It quickly becomes apparent that the CSA Constitution was largely the same as the U.S. Constitution with a few changes. Chief among these is the protection of the institution of slavery and that the Confederate president could only serve one six-year term in office.
If you’ve never read the CSA Constitution, I highly encourage you to do so, especially if you’re interested in the Civil War. Not only does this historic document show just how similar it was to the original, U.S. Constitution, it also gives you a peak at the few things that Confederates wanted to change about the country they were living in. After reading it, it’s hard to deny that slavery didn’t have a lot to do with the war’s start.
In the end, how many of you have actually read the Constitution of the Confederate States of America? What do you think about it? What other interesting Civil War-related documents and books would you recommend reading?