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Confederate States of America - Constitution for the Provisional
We, the deputies of the sovereign and independent States of South
Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana,
invoking the favor of Almighty God, do hereby, in behalf of these
States, ordain and establish this Constitution for the Provisional
Government of the same: to continue one year from the inauguration of
the President, or until a permanent constitution or confederation
between the said States shall be put in operation, whichsoever shall
Section I. All legislative powers herein delegated shall be vested
in this Congress now assembled until otherwise ordained.
Sec. 2. When vacancies happen in the representation from any
State, the same shall be filled in such manner as the proper
authorities of the State shall direct.
Sec. 3. (1) The Congress shall be the judge of the elections,
returns, and qualifications of its members; any number of deputies
from a majority of the States, being present, shall constitute a
quorum to do business; but a smaller number may adjourn from day to
day, and may be authorized to compel the attendance of absent
members; upon all questions before the Congress, each State shall be
entitled to one vote, and shall be represented by any one or more of
its deputies who may be present.
(2) The Congress may determine the rules of its proceedings,
punish its members for disorderly behavior, and, with the concurrence
of two-thirds, expel a member.
(3) The Congress shall keep a journal of its proceedings, and from
time to time publish the same, excepting such parts as may in their
judgment require secrecy; and the yeas and nays of the members on any
question shall, at the desire of one-fifth of those present, or at
the instance of any one State, be entered on the journal.
Sec. 4. The members of Congress shall receive a compensation their
services, to be ascertained by law, and paid out of the Treasury of
the Confederacy. They shall in all cases, except laws on the subject
of treason, felony, and breach of the peace, be privileged from
arrest during their attendance at the session of the Congress, and in
going to and returning from the same; and for any speech or debate
they shall not be questioned in any other place.
Sec. 5. (1) Every bill which shall have passed the Congress shall,
before it becomes a law, be presented to the President of the
Confederacy; if he approve, he shall sign it; but if not, he shall
return it with his objections to the Congress, who shall enter the
objections at large on their journal, and proceed to reconsider it.
If, after such reconsideration, two-thirds of the Congress shall
agree to pass the bill, it shall become a law. But in all such cases,
the vote shall be determined by yeas and nays; and the names of the
persons voting for and against the bill shall be entered on the
journal. If any bill shall not be returned by the President within
ten days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to
him, the same shall be a law, in like manner as if he had signed it,
unless the Congress, by their adjournment, prevent its return; in
which case it shall not be a law. The President may veto any
appropriation or appropriations and approve any other appropriation
or appropriations in the same bill.
(2) Every order, resolution, or vote intended to have the force
and effect of a law, shall be presented to the President, and before
the same shall take effect, shall be approved by him, or, being
disapproved by him, shall be repassed by two-thirds of the Congress,
according to the rules and limitations prescribed in the case of a
(3) Until the inauguration of the President, all bills, orders,
resolutions, and votes adopted by the Congress shall be of full force
without approval by him.
Sec. 6. (1) The Congress shall have power to lay and collect
taxes, duties, imposts, and excises for the revenue necessary to pay
the debts and carry on the Government of the Confederacy, and all
duties, imposts, and excises shall be uniform throughout the States
of the Confederacy.
(2) To borrow money on the credit of the Confederacy.
(3) To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the
several States, and with the Indian tribes.
(4) To establish a uniform rule of naturalization, and uniform
laws on the subject of bankruptcies throughout the Confederacy.
(5) To coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign
coin, and fix the standard of weights and measures.
(6) To provide for the punishment of counterfeiting the securities
and current coin of the Confederacy.
(7) To establish post offices and post roads.
(8) To promote the progress of science and useful arts by
securing, for limited times, to authors and inventors the exclusive
right to their respective writings and discoveries.
(9) To constitute tribunals inferior to the Supreme Court.
(1O) To define and punish piracies and felonies committed on the
high seas, and offenses against the law of nations.
(11) To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and
make rules concerning captures on land and water.
(12) To raise and support armies; but no appropriation of money to
that use shall be for a longer term than two years.
(13) To provide and maintain a navy.
(14) To make rules for the government and regulation of the land
and naval forces.
(15) To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws
of the Confederacy, suppress insurrections, and repel invasions.
(16) To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the
militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in
the service of the Confederacy, reserving to the States respectively
the appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the
militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress.
(17) To make all laws that shall be necessary and proper for
carrying into execution the foregoing powers and all other powers
expressly delegated by this Constitution to this Provisional
(18) The Congress shall have power to admit other States.
(19) This Congress shall also exercise executive powers, until the
President is inaugurated.
Sec. 7. (1) The importation of African negroes from any foreign
country other than the slave-holding States of the United States, is
hereby forbidden; and Congress are required to pass such laws as
shall effectually prevent the same.
(2) The Congress shall also have power to prohibit the
introduction of slaves from any State not a member of this
(3) The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be
suspended unless, when in cases of rebellion or invasion, the public
safety may require it.
(4) No bill of attainder or ex post facto law shall be passed.
(5) No preference shall be given, by any regulation of commerce or
revenue, to the ports of one State over those of another; nor shall
vessels bound to or from one State be obliged to enter, clear, or pay
duties in another.
(6) No money shall be drawn from the treasury, but in consequence
of appropriations made by law; and a regular statement and account of
the receipts and expenditures of all public money shall be published
from time to time.
(7) Congress shall appropriate no money from the treasury, unless
it be asked and estimated for by the President or some one of the
heads of departments, except for the purpose of paying its own
expenses and contingencies.
(8) No title of nobility shall be granted by the Confederacy; and
no person holding any office of profit or trust under it shall,
without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present,
emolument, office, or title of any kind whatever, from any king,
prince, or foreign state.
(9) Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of
religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the
freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people
peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress
of such grievances as the delegated powers of this Government may
warrant it to consider and redress.
(10) A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a
free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not
(11) No soldier shall, in time of peace, be quartered in any house
without the consent of the owner; nor in time of war, but in a manner
to be prescribed by law.
(12) The right of the people to be secure in their persons,
houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and
seizures shall not be violated; and no warrants shall issue but upon
probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly
describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be
(13) No person shall be held to answer for a capital or otherwise
infamous crime unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury,
except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the
militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor
shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in
jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case
to be a witness against himself; nor be deprived of life, liberty, or
property without due process of law; nor shall private property be
taken for public use without just compensation.
(14) In all criminal prosecutions the accused shall enjoy the
right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State
and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which
district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be
informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted
with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for
obtaining witnesses in his favor; and to have the assistance of
counsel for his defense.
(15) In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall
exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved;
and no fact tried by a jury shall be otherwise reexamined in any
court of the Confederacy than according to the rules of the common
(16) Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines
imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
(17) The enumeration, in the Constitution, of certain rights shall
not be-construed to deny or disparage others retained by the
(18) The powers not delegated to the Confederacy by the
Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the
States respectively, or to the people.
(19) The judicial power of the Confederacy shall not be construed
to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted
against one of the States of the Confederacy, by citizens of another
State, or by citizens or subjects of any foreign state.
Sec 8. (1) No State shall enter into any treaty, alliance, or
confederation; grant letters of marque and reprisal; coin money; emit
bills of credit; make anything but gold and silver coin a tender in
payment of debts; pass any bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or
law impairing the obligation of contracts; or grant any title of
(2) No State shall, without the consent of the Congress, lay any
imposts or duties on imports or exports, except what may be
absolutely necessary for executing its laws; and the net, produce of
all duties and imposts, laid by any State on imports or exports,
shall be for the use of the Treasury of the Confederacy, and all such
laws shall be subject to the revision and control of the Congress. No
State shall, without the consent of Congress, lay any duty of
tonnage, enter into any agreement or compact with another State, or
with a foreign power, or engage in war, unless actually invaded, or
in such imminent danger as will not admit of delay.
Section 1. (1) The executive power shall be vested in a President
of the Confederate States of America. He, together with the Vice
President, shall hold his office for one year, or until this
Provisional Government shall be superseded by a permanent government,
whichsoever shall first occur.
(2) The President and Vice President shall be elected by ballot by
the States represented in this Congress, each State casting one vote,
and a majority of the whole being requisite to elect.
(3) No person, except a natural born citizen, or a citizen of one
of the States of this Confederacy at the time of the adoption of this
Constitution, shall be eligible to the office of President; neither
shall any person be eligible to that office who shall not have
attained the age of thirty-five years, and been fourteen years a
resident of one of the States of this Confederacy.
(4) In case of the removal of the President from office, or of his
death, resignation, or inability to discharge the powers and duties
of the said office (which inability shall be determined by a vote of
two-thirds of the Congress), the same shall devolve on the Vice
President; and the Congress may by law provide for the case of
removal, death, resignation, or inability, both of ths President and
Vice President, declaring what officer shall then act as President;
and such officer shall act accordingly until the disability be
removed or a President shall be elected.
(5) The President shall at stated times receive for his services,
during the period of the Provisional Government, a compensation at
the rate of $25,000 per annum; and he shall not receive during that
period any other emolument from this Confederacy, or any of the
(6) Before he enter on the execution of his office he shall take
the following oath or affirmation:
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the
office of President of the Confederate States of America, and will,
to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the
Sec. 2. (1) The President shall be Commander-in-Chief of the Army
and Navy of the Confederacy, and of the militia of the several
States, when called into the actual service of the Confederacy; he
may require the opinion, in writing, of the principal officer in each
of the executive departments, upon any subject relating to the duties
of their respective offices; and he shall have power to grant
reprieves and pardons for offenses against the Confederacy, except in
eases of impeachment.
(2) He shall have power, by and with the advice and consent of the
Congress, to make treaties; provided two-thirds of the Congress
concur; and he shall nominate, and, by and with the advice and
consent of the Congress, shall appoint ambassadors, other public
ministers, and consuls, judges of the courts, and all other officers
of the Confederacy whose appointments are not herein otherwise
provided for, and which shall be established by law But the Congress
may, by law, vest the appointment of such inferior officers as they
think proper in the President alone, in the courts of law, or in the
heads of departments.
(3) The President shall have power to fill up all vacancies that
may happen during the recess of the Congress, by granting
commissions, which shall expire at the end of their next session
Sec. 3. (1) He shall, from time to time, give to the Congress
information of the state of the Confederacy, and recommend to their
consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and
expedient; he may, on extraordinary occasions, convene the Congress
at such times as he shall think proper; he shall receive ambassadors
and other public ministers; he shall take care that the laws be
faithfully executed; and shall commission all the officers of the
(2) The President, Vice President, and all civil officers of the
Confederacy shall be removed from office on conviction by the
Congress of treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors:
a vote of two-thirds shall be necessary for such conviction.
Section 1. (1) The judicial power of the Confederacy shall be
vested in one Supreme Court, and in such inferior courts as are
herein directed, or as the Congress may from time to time ordain and
(2) Each State shall constitute a district, in which there shall
be a court called a district court, which, until otherwise provided
by the Congress, shall have the jurisdiction vested by the laws of
the United States, as far as applicable, in both the district and
circuit courts of the United States, for that State; the judge
whereof shall be appointed by the President, by and with the advice
and consent of the Congress, and shall, until otherwise provided by
the Congress, exercise the power and authority vested by the laws of
the United States in the judges of the district and circuit courts of
the United States, for that State, and shall appoint the times and
places at which the courts shall be held. Appeals may be taken
directly from the district courts to the Supreme Court, under similar
regulations to those which are provided in cases of appeal to the
Supreme Court of the United States, or under such regulations as may
be provided by the Congress. The commissions of all the judges shall
expire with this Provisional Government. (*)
(3) The Supreme Court shall be constituted of all the district
judges, a majority of whom shall be a quorum, and shall sit at such
times and places as the Congress shall appoint.
(4) The Congress shall have power to make laws for the transfer of
any causes which were pending in the courts of the United States, to
the courts of the Confederacy, and for the execution of the orders,
decrees, and judgments heretofore rendered by the said courts of the
United States; and also all laws which may be requisite to protect
the parties to all such suits, orders, judgments, or decrees, their
heirs, personal representatives, or assignees.
Sec. 2. (1) The judicial power shall extend to all cases of law
and equity, arising under this Constitution, the laws of the United
States, and of this Confederacy, and treaties made, or which shall be
made, under its authority; to all cases affecting ambassadors, .other
public ministers, and consuls; to all cases of admiralty and maritime
jurisdiction; to controversies to which the Confederacy shall be a
party; controversies between two or more States; between citizens of
different States; between citizens of the same State claiming lands
under grants of different States.
(2) In all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers,
and consuls, and those in which a State shall be a party, the Supreme
Court shall have original jurisdiction. In all the other cases before
mentioned, the Supreme Court shall have appellate jurisdiction, both
as to law and fact, with such exceptions and under such regulations
as the Congress shall make.
(3) The trial of all crimes, except in cases of impeachment, shall
be by jury, and such trial shall be held in the State where the said
crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within any
State, the trial shall be at such place or places as the Congress may
by law have directed.
Sec. 3. (1) Treason against this Confederacy shall consist only in
levying war against it, or in adhering to its enemies, giving them
aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on
the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on
confession in open court.
(2) The Congress shall have power to declare the punishment of
treason; but no attainder of treason shall work corruption of blood,
or forfeiture, except during the life of the person attainted.
Section 1. (1) Full faith and credit shall be given in each State
to the public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other
State. And the Congress may, by general laws, prescribe the manner in
which such acts, records, and proceedings shall be proved and the
effect of such proof.
Sec. 2. (1) The citizens of each State shall be entitled to all
privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States.
(2) A person charged in any State with treason, felony, or other
crime, who shall flee from justice, and be found in another State'
shall, on demand of the executive authority of the State from which
he fled, be delivered up, to be removed to the State having
jurisdiction of the crime.
(3) A slave in one State escaping to another, shall be
up on claim of the party to whom said slave may belong by the
executive authority of the State in which such slave shall be found,
and in case of any abduction or forcible rescue, full compensation,
including the value of the slave and all costs and expenses, shall be
made to the party, by the State in which such abduction or rescue
shall take place.
Sec. 3. (1) The Confederacy shall guarantee to every State in this
Union a republican form of government, and shall protect each of them
against invasion; and, on application of the Legislature, or of the
Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened), against domestic
I. The Congress, by a vote of two-thirds, may, at any time, alter
or amend this Constitution.
1. This Constitution, and the laws of the Confederacy which shall
be made in pursuance thereof, and all treaties made, or which shall
be made, under the authority of the Confederacy, shall be the supreme
law of the land; and the judges in every State shall be bound
thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any State to the
2. The Government hereby instituted shall take immediate steps for
the settlement of all matters between the States forming it, and
their other late confederates of the United States in relation to the
public property and public debt at the time of their withdrawal from
them; these States hereby declaring it to be their wish and earnest
desire to adjust everything pertaining to the common property, common
liability, and common obligations of that Union, upon the principles
of right, justice, equity! and good faith.
3. Until otherwise provided by the Congress, the city of
Montgomery, in the State of Alabama, shall be the seat of
4. The members of the Congress and all executive and judicial
officers of the Confederacy shall be bound by oath or affirmation to
support this Constitution; but no religious test shall be required as
a qualification to any office or public trust under this
Done in the Congress, by the unanimous consent of all the said
States, the eighth day of February, in the year of our Lord one
thousand eight hundred and sixty-one, and of the Confederate States
of America the first.
In witness whereof we have hereunto subscribed our names.
HOWELL COBB, President of the Congress.
South Carolina: R. Barnwell Rhett, R. W. Barnwell, James Chesnut,
Jr., C. G. Memminger, William Porcher Miles, Lawrence M. Keitt,
William W. Boyce, Thomas J. Withers.
Georgia: R. Toombs, Francis S. Bartow, Martin J. Crawford, E. A.
Nisbet, Benjamin H. Hill, Augustus R. Wright, Thomas R. R. Cobb, A.
H. Kenan, Alexander H. Stephens.
Florida: Jackson Morton, James B. Owens, J. Patton Anderson.
Alabama: Richard W. Walker, Robert H. Smith, Colin J. McRae, John
Gill Shorter, William Parish Chilton, Stephen F. Hale, David P.
Lewis, Thomas Fearn, J. L. M. Curry.
Mississippi: W. P. Harris, Alex. M. Clayton, W. S. Wilson, James
T. Harrison, Walker Brooke, William S. Barry, J. A. P. Campbell.
Louisiana: John Perkins, Jr., Alex. de Clouet, C. M. Conrad,
Duncan F. Kenner, Edward Sparrow, Henry Marshall.
By a vote of the Congress, on the 2d day of March, in thc year
1861, the deputies from the State of Texas were authorized to sign
the Provisional Constitution above written.
Attest. J. J. HOOPER, Secretary.
Texas: Thomas N. Waul, Williamson S. Oldham, John Gregg, John H.
Reagan; W. B. Ochiltree, John Hemphill, Louis T. Wigfall.
(*) This paragraph was amended as follows:
Be it ordained by the Congress of the Confederate States of
America, That the second paragraph of the first section of the third
article of the Constitution of the Confederate States of America be
so amended in the first line of said paragraph as to read, Each State
shall, until otherwise enacted by law, constitute a district;" and in
the sixth line, after the word " judge," add or judges."
Approved May 21, 1861
Please cite this source when appropriate:
Lee, R. "Civil War:
Constitution for the Provisional
Government of the
Confederate States of America"
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