President of the Confederate States of America

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President of the Confederate States of America
Former political post
Seal of the Confederate States of America.svg
President-Jefferson-Davis.jpg
Jefferson Davis
First officeholder Jefferson Davis
Last officeholder Jefferson Davis
Style Mr. President
Official residence White House
Appointer Electoral College
Office began 18 February 1861
Office ended 10 May 1865

The President of the Confederate States of America was the head of state and head of government of the Confederate States of America, which was formed from the states which declared their secession from the United States, thus precipitating the American Civil War. The only person to hold the office was Jefferson Davis. He was President from February 18, 1861, to May 10, 1865, and his Vice President was Alexander H. Stephens. Howell Cobb, as president of the Provisional Confederate Congress, was the highest ranking Confederate official before the election of Davis, but he was not titled President of the Confederate States.

Office[edit]

According to the Confederate States Constitution, the President's office was almost entirely the same as that of the President of the United States. The President was to be:

  • chosen by an electoral college from each state in the Confederacy. Each state had as many electors as they had members in the Confederate Congress (senators + representatives). The only CSA presidential election took place on November 6, 1861, when electors for the electoral college were chosen in each state. Davis, who was already in office by action of the Confederate Congress, was elected president without opposition (receiving all 109 electoral votes).[1][2]
  • elected jointly with a Vice Presidential running mate. The President and Vice President could not be citizens of the same state. Like Davis, his running mate Alexander H. Stephens of Georgia received all 109 electoral votes in the November 1861 election.
  • either a born citizen of the Confederacy or a born citizen of the United States born prior to December 20, 1860 and to have "been fourteen years a resident within the limits of the Confederate States, as they may exist at the time of his election."
  • at least thirty-five years of age
Election Ballot, Virginia, 6 November 1861.
Inauguration of Jefferson Davis in February 1861

Oath of Office[edit]

Like the Oath of office of the President of the United States, the oath or affirmation of office of the President of the Confederate States was established in the Confederate States Constitution and was mandatory for a President upon beginning a term of office. The wording, almost an exact copy of the United States' version, was prescribed by the Constitution (Article II, Section 1, Clause 10), as follows:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the Confederate States, and will, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution thereof.

As with almost every President of the United States, upon taking the oath on February 18, 1861, Jefferson Davis added the words "So help me God" to the end of the oath.

Powers[edit]

The President of the Confederacy held most of the same powers as the President of the United States. Though he could not directly propose legislation, he was given the power to nominate members of the Supreme Court of the Confederate States, ambassadors, cabinet members, and other executive officials to be approved by the Senate.

He was also Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and held veto power over legislation.

The President could be impeached by Congress for "treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors."

Differences[edit]

There were a few key differences between the Confederate President and the United States President:

  • Unlike the United States, which allowed for indefinite re-election (until the passage of the 22nd Amendment in 1951) of both the President and Vice President after a four-year term, the Confederacy gave these offices six-year terms, but the President could not be re-elected, similar to the term limits imposed on the President of Mexico. After the war, this innovation gained considerable popularity in the re-constituted Union, most notably being endorsed by Rutherford B. Hayes in his inaugural address.[3]
  • The Confederate president had the ability to subject a bill to a line-item veto, a power held by most state governors.

List of presidents[edit]

Parties

      Nonpartisan

No. President Took office Left office Party Term Vice President
1 President-Jefferson-Davis.jpg Jefferson Davis
(1808–1889)
February 18, 1861 May 10, 1865 Nonpartisan 1 (1861) Alexander H. Stephens

Davis was the provisional president from February 18, 1861 to February 22, 1862 when his six year term under the CSA constitution began.

Notes[edit]

See also[edit]