The Congress of the Confederate States was the legislative body of the Confederate States of America, existing during the American Civil War between 1861 and 1865. Like the United States Congress, the Confederate Congress consisted of two houses: the Confederate Senate, whose membership included two senators from each state (chosen by their state legislature), and the Confederate House of Representatives, with members popularly elected by residents of the individual states.
Sessions[edit | edit source]
Deputies from the first seven states to secede from the Union, Alabama, Louisiana, Florida, Mississippi, Georgia, South Carolina, and Texas, met at the Provisional Confederate Congress in Montgomery, Alabama, in two sessions in February through May 1861. They drafted and approved the Confederate States Constitution, elected Jefferson Davis President of the Confederate States and designed the Confederate flag.
Following the Battle of Fort Sumter in April 1861, the remaining states to secede sent delegates to the Confederate Congress, which met in three additional sessions between July 1861 and February 1862 in the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia.
Elections for the First Confederate Congress were held on 6 November 1861. While Congressional elections in the United States were held in even-numbered years, elections for Confederate Congressman occurred in odd-numbered years. The First Confederate Congress met in four sessions in Richmond.
Because of the defeat of the Confederacy in 1865, only two Congressional elections were ever held; the Second Confederate Congress was selected in November 1863 but served only one year of its two-year term. The final session of the Confederate Congress adjourned on 18 March 1865. That month, one of its final acts was the passage of a law allowing for the emancipation and military induction of any slave willing to fight for the Confederacy. This measure had originally been proposed by Judah P. Benjamin a year earlier but met stiff opposition until the final months of the war, when it was endorsed by Robert E. Lee.
Legislation[edit | edit source]
- An act to prohibit the importation of luxuries, or of articles not necessaries or of common use
- The Partisan Ranger Act
- The Bounty Law(s)
Depictions in media[edit | edit source]
The 1989 motion picture Glory portrayed an act of the Confederate Congress to execute black troops as well as white officers captured in command of them. This was loosely based on a proclamation passed by Jefferson Davis calling for the return of any African American taken as a prisoner of war to respective state governments where they were to be receive "punishment in accordance with the laws of the said state" as slaves bearing arms. The same law also called for similar penalties for white officers in command of black troops as well as execution of white officers who were then serving under the command of Benjamin Butler "as robbers and criminals deserving death". The last measure was due in part to Butler's General Order No. 28 ..
Apart from Glory, a passing mention of the Confederate Congress is made in the mini-series Roots. In the final episode of the series, set during Reconstruction, a former Confederate Congress Senator named Arthur Johnson (played by Burl Ives) arrives in the local county to begin several business ventures including buying up all available land and keeping the black population from leaving through heavy interest on sharecropping supplies. The mini-series depicts the Senator as being highly respected by the white population, seemingly to imply that even after the Civil War ex-Confederate Congress members were still regarded with a sense of reverence.
See also[edit | edit source]
- First Confederate Congress
- List of members of the Confederate Senate
- Provisional Confederate Congress
- Second Confederate Congress
References[edit | edit source]
Further reading[edit | edit source]
- The Federal and the Confederate Constitutions, for use of Government Officers, and for the People. Arranged in parallel columns. With the differences indicated, for convenient reference and comparison. Publisher: Columbus, Ohio. J. Walter & Co.,1863.
- The Journal of the Congress of the Confederate States of America, Document No. 234 of the U.S. Serial Set, 58th Congress, 2nd session. Publisher: Washington, D.C. : United States Senate, 1904-1905
- The Making of the Confederate Constitution, Publications of the Southern History Association vol. IX, no.5,. Publisher: Washington, D.C. : Southern History Association, 1897-1907