What Were the Confederate States of America?

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  • Written By: Dan Cavallari
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 24 March 2019
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During the American Civil War, several states seceded from the United States of America (the "Union") to form the Confederate States of America. Also known as the Confederate States or Confederacy, it was made up of southern states and territories that had set up a de facto government led by Confederate President Jefferson Davis. In all, 11 southern states seceded from the Union, and the Confederacy lasted the duration of the Civil War, from 1861 to 1865.

While there were many causes for the rift between the Union and the Confederacy, the primary cause was the disagreement between the two governments over the issue of slavery. The southern states wanted to continue allowing the practice, while the northern states did not. Other issues, such as states' rights and taxes and tariffs, were also major sources of tension, however. As the relationship between the Northern and the Southern states grew more and more difficult, seven Southern states decided to separate from the Union. This occurred before Abraham Lincoln took office, but four more seceded after his tenure began.


The Confederate States of America officially folded when the Confederate Army surrendered in April 1865. Until that time, however, a battle raged between the Union and Confederate armies because the Union — or what was left of the United States of America — did not recognize the Confederacy as an independent nation. President Abraham Lincoln led the Union cause, and for the duration of his presidency, the two sides struggled — as President Lincoln put it — as a nation divided.

After the Civil War ended and the Confederate States of America was abolished, the states that attempted to secede were granted representation once again in Congress in an effort to bring the country together. Freed slaves who fought for the Union, known as Freedmen, were temporarily granted the right to vote, but their civil rights struggle would continue over the course of the next century.


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Post 9

There is a great movie called CSA that imagines what America would be like in the present if the south had won the Civil War. It is funny, and prescient.

I am also a big fan of this kind of historical revisionism. It is so interesting to think about what the present and future would be like if the past had been different.

Post 8

How do you guys feel about flying or displaying the Confederate flag, more commonly called the rebel flag? I know some people who think it is historical artifact with an abstract meaning that can be interpreted in many ways. I know others who see it as a symbol of racism.

I am kind of on the fence. I wouldn't own or display one myself, but I have a hard time judging people who do. How do you guys feel?

Post 7

The Confederacy was considered a worthy investment in Europe due to its large production of cotton. This investment was a great monetary gain, but a crime against humanity, since it was made large on the backs of slaves stolen from Africa.

Post 6


I would disagree that the south was in the wrong, you might as well say America was in the wrong when it split from Britain. The North was flaunting its power, and the US originally recognized states rights to self-governance. Although slavery was an atrocity, it does not excuse the north from its crimes of infringement.

Post 5

In many ways, the war was all a matter of perspective, like any war. People held strong beliefs because the people they knew all believed those things. There was injustice on both sides, and good and bad guys in both the Union and the Confederacy. Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson were wonderful leaders of immense integrity. Nevertheless it is clear that the southern states were in the wrong, deciding to be openly rebellious to the government and keep slaves.

Post 1

This article rocks! --Lisa

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