What did the Confederate constitution actually say?

Copyright © 2022 — Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

The Confederate States of America adopted a constitution on 3/11/1861. It was a near-duplicate of the US constitution and amendments 1-12, but with several significant changes. Here is an article that analyzes all the differences in a convenient tabular format:

[Dead link as of June 2022 — I've asked the author to restore the page or give me permission to host it, but no response yet.]

A few points stand out:

  • The CSA was just as federal as the USA. States didn't have the right to secede, insurrections could be put down, and "states' rights" were only moderately different. The CSA allowed two-thirds of the states to impose a constitutional amendment on the other third (in the US it takes three-fourths).
  • There were limits on the use of CSA laws and funds to benefit private enterprise. Protectionist tariffs, specifically, were unconstitutional. (One of the few things they got right!)
  • "No ... law denying or impairing the right of property in negro slaves shall be passed." It's not just that the CSA constitution allowed slavery. It was literally unconstitutional to pass any law prohibiting or restricting slavery. Any new territories acquired by the CSA were also mandated to recognize and protect "the institution of negro slavery". Several other clauses also strengthen the protection of slavery.

This was the founding document of the Confederacy, right?

So, how about we drop the revisionist fantasy that the Confederacy was all about states' rights and Southern heritage?

(Yes, I'm aware of the bad things done by Lincoln and the North. They are not relevant to why the CSA was founded.)