1. Education
Matt Rosenberg

Confederate States of America

By August 27, 2007

Follow me on:

Jim writes to ask whether the short-lived Confederate States of America (1861-1865) could have been considered as an independent country. Since the Confederate States of America lacked recognition by other countries and thus did not have internationally recognized boundaries or sovereignty, it did not meet the criteria to be considered an independent country during its existence.

Comments

August 27, 2007 at 10:08 am
(1) Don says:

While I agree with that answer conceptually, I feel that it condemns other areas that want to be recognized as a country (deservedly so) and are ignored such as Tibet and Taiwan.

August 27, 2007 at 8:58 pm
(2) Matt Rosenberg says:

Hi Don! Thanks for the post! I do recognize Taiwan as an independent country. Tibet, however, doesn’t have a chance for independence in the near future.

August 27, 2007 at 11:53 pm
(3) Carrie says:

This is mistaken all the way around ! THE CSA WAS VERY RECOGNIZED and SUPPORTED by all the European countries, and WAS AND IS STILL ITS OWN SOVERIGN CONSTITUTIONAL NATION ! The CSA has its’ own official government and Supreme Court, etc.
THE CSA IS A REAL NATION !

August 28, 2007 at 12:18 am
(4) Matt Rosenberg says:

Whoa Carrie! What time machine did you just step off of? Still is independent?! Where’d you get that one from?

August 28, 2007 at 7:15 am
(5) Catholicgauze says:

Carrie,
Sorry but no. While the CSA did have its own government, controlled its own territory, and even had diplomatic missions with other countries; it was never recognized as soverign by any other country.

August 28, 2007 at 10:03 am
(6) Bert says:

Yes the Confederacy was even recognized by the US gov’t. They negoiated the prisoner exchanges with the Confederate Gov’t and had to release our 2 diplomats they captured on the high seas in a British ship and the US Gov’t continually refered to Jefferson Davis as President Davis and did respond to the Confederacy as an independent country.

August 28, 2007 at 7:35 pm
(7) Catholicgauze says:

The CSA was not recognized as a legal government by the US. While there were negotiations, the legal US line was that the southern states were in rebellion and that the act of secession was illegal. Just because a government deals with another does not mean legal recognition, al la US-Iran negotiations from 1979 to present.

August 30, 2007 at 1:29 pm
(8) Doug Stewart says:

Perhaps the single biggest glaring piece of evidence concerning the independent government and territory of the Confederate States of America, is the known unwillingness of the Union to prosecute President Jefferson Davis as a traitor, though he was kept in prison for two years after the end of the War of Northern Aggression. Attorneys for the Union were completely aware that secession exactly as taught at West Point was legal, and that the illegal invasion of the Union into the CSA would become readily apparent in a court trial. Instead, President Davis was freed and pardoned, though honorably, he did not accept the pardon because to do so would imply that he had been guilty of something.

The Confederate States of America was recognized by many foreign governments. Lincoln’s mental problems probably played a predominant role in his distortion of reality, which was, in part, characterized by his unwillingness to officially recognize the CSA, in a manner similar to that in which one would deny the existence of a large wart on the end of one’s nose.

August 30, 2007 at 10:31 pm
(9) Catholicgauze says:

This is getting too deep and personal. But I leave on the note that no government ever formally and legally recognized the Confederate States of America as a legitimate, sovereign, independent power.

September 3, 2007 at 11:37 am
(10) d says:

Stewart says it well and yes, you better look into what Carrie is saying.
Why should something be “formally or legally recognized”? Legally, by whose law? Formally, by whose standard? It is obvious that, for the most part, the citizens of the CSA considered themselves to be an independant nation. That is what matters.

September 3, 2007 at 6:52 pm
(11) Lois says:

The CSA is more of a state of mind than an actual state. President Lincoln realized that only military action would prevent the breakup of the United States and he managed to prevent the actual secession of the CSA by waging a very long and costly war. The remnants of the Civil War and its bitter aftermath are still with us though the Union held together. The Civil War was truly brother against brother. More soldiers died of disease than on the battlefield. The soldiers on both sides were ill equipped, ill fed and ill clothed. I look at the picture of my great grandfather, a boy of 18 in his Union Army uniform, and think that he is probably typical of his time. He survived but his brothers did not.
Those who look at the Iraqi war would do well to remember that in the Civil War as well, the young and promising are sacrificed for the future, whether that future is worth the sacrifice, only time will tell.

September 6, 2007 at 7:40 pm
(12) Mike Keena says:

Lois said that “the Union held together.” I beg to differ, the “Union” did created by the American War for Independance, was destroyed by Mr. Lincoln’s war. In the place of a Union joined and maintained by voluntary will of the various States and their citizens, came a nation geographically sustained by force, compulsion, and sealed by the unecessary blood of 620,000 Americans. The CSA was for a short spell independant, with its own culture, government and geographical boundaries. Reconstruction itself shows that the CSA was considered another. The CSA was ruled by occupation forces and divided into Military Districts. Then, each State had to reapply to be brought back into the Union; or be rejoined to the United States of America.

September 25, 2007 at 5:07 pm
(13) Half Pint says:

This subject has had some great debate on the history forums. Those of you interested should check out Arm Chair General Forums under the Civil War.

Oh, the CSA was a part of the Union in rebellion, not it’s on nation. That’s out dated wishful thinking, at best.

February 6, 2008 at 1:22 pm
(14) Son Of Dixie says:

A part of the Union under rebellion? Thats not how the Southrons felt. They were their own nation by all rights. And the earlier comment is true, that the CSA still exists. The Confederate government never actulally surrendered. Generals surrendered armies but that was all they had the power to surrender. Davis never surrendered anything. And what do you think the British gov. considered the colonies but part of their empire under rebellion. Its all in the eye of the beholder. Any southerer knows we were free, any yankee argues we weren’t. 150 years later we still don’t get along.

February 17, 2008 at 11:25 am
(15) Missouri Brigade says:

The Confederacy was NEVER recognized as an independent nation or a sovereign state by ANY World Power — including the “urban myth” recognition of the CSA often credited to the Vatican– (and I state this as a proud descendent of the Brave Confederate Dead who fought to repel the tyranny of the North).

The CSA WAS recognized as a belligerent power — as was treated de facto as such by the Union — and thus a major reason WHY President Jefferson Davis was NEVER prosecuted for treason.

As a legally recognized belligerent power, Confederate warships were given the same rights as United States warships in foreign ports.

The United States via a series of diplomatic victories ensured the Confederacy failed in it’s attempt to achieve diplomatic recognition by foreign governments.

Many reasons existed for this Northern “victory”. Primary amongst them was the skill of Northern diplomats.

Other factors included:

1) Anti-slavery sentiments of the European populace

2) European attention to crises in Poland and Denmark, which diverted attention from the conflict on the North American Continent

3) The results from the Battlefields on American soil.

Simply put, the Confederate states were incapable of winning enough consecutive victories to convince European governments that they could sustain independence.

Arguably the closest my Southern ancestor’s came was prior to the Battle of Sharpsburg. The British Cabinet had decided to recommend recognition of the Confederacy to the House of Commons. However, before debate could be scheduled — the results of the Battle of Sharpsburg (Antietam) was received — and the British Government “pulled” the recommendation and it was never debated.

While the Union never officially recognized the Confederacy as a Belligerent — it’s actions conveyed such status to the CSA. Examples of Union actions which conveyed a de facto recognition of this status included:

1) The Union’s blockade of Southern Ports.

The blockade’s legal and political implications took on greater significance than its economic effects because it undermined Lincoln’s insistence that the war was merely an internal insurrection. A blockade was a weapon of war normally conducted either between sovereign states — or entities recognized as having “Belligerent” status.

Britain — at that time the Worlds foremost Naval Power — responded to the blockade with a proclamation of neutrality, which the other European powers followed.

This tacitly granted the Confederacy belligerent status,

a) the right to contract loans and purchase supplies in neutral nations

b) the legal justification to exercise belligerent rights on the high seas.

The Union was greatly angered by European recognition of Southern belligerency, fearing that is was a first step toward diplomatic recognition, but as British Foreign Secretary Lord John Russell said, “The question of belligerent rights is one, not of principle, but of fact.”

Sensitive to any further international recognition of the Confederates as statesmen rather than rebels, Secretary of State William H. Seward instructed Charles Francis Adams, Minister to England and the son of former Secretary of State and President John Quincy Adams, to warn the British not to “fraternize with our domestic enemy,” whether officially or unofficially, or risk an Anglo-American war.

But the Union realized that Europe’s declarations of neutrality also constituted official acceptance of the blockade, a position with many long-standing implications.

Although international law stated that a blockade must be “physically effective” to be legally binding on neutral powers, the definition was ambiguous.

From before the War of 1812, the United States had insisted upon a strict definition in order to maintain trading rights as a neutral.

Now, however, the United States was the belligerent and Britain the predominant neutral power.

By officially respecting the Union blockade, even if it was not fully “physically effective,”

Britain maintained a consistent position on belligerent rights. The U.S. reversal of its traditional position stressing neutral rights set the precedent that it would be obligated to respect the British argument in future naval issues.

2) In addition to the above actions i.e., the right to contract loans and purchase supplies in neutral nations and to exercise belligerent rights on the high seas, when the Union entered into offical Prisoner exchanges with the Confederacy, that action was also a de facto recognition of the belligerent status of the Confederacy.

For the record, under the International Laws in effect at the time — Belligerent Status gave the entity the right to:

1) the rights of a belligerent party in a public war, or war between opposing states.

2) The belligerents stand on a par with the parent state in the conduct and settlement of the conflict.

3) In addition, states recognizing the insurgents as belligerents must assume the duties of neutrality toward the conflict.

Thus, while NOT recognized as a sovereign nation — the recognition AS a “Belligerent” power DID convey a legal status to the Confederacy — and also helped perpetuate the confusion which has evolved as to it’s actual status.

Regards to All,

MB

May 19, 2008 at 8:40 pm
(16) CSA-resident says:

Excuse me… the CSA is most certainly a Nation. It continues to be occupied to this day.

Dispute this? Then show me a copy of the peace treaty between the CSA and USA.

August 23, 2008 at 1:58 am
(17) Smarty says:

@CSA-resident

There would be no peace treaty because the entity never legally existed as a sovereign state.

I live in Virginia and am a proud citizen of the USA. You’re free to leave if you don’t like it here.

September 16, 2008 at 6:57 pm
(18) Confederate Conservative Christian Patriot says:

The C.S.A. legally seceded following the requiments in the US Constitution. They created their own Declaration of Independance and Constitution, and were in turn recognized by the world as independant from 1861-1865.

General Lee or any of the CS Army Generals had no power to surrender the Government only their individual armies (some of which didn’t even surrender). Jefferson Davis never surrendered. Therefore the CSA is an unrecognized nation under occupation.

“God Save the South”
“Deo Vindice (God Will Prove us Right)”

February 17, 2009 at 4:08 am
(19) Leon - (Inquisitive Red Coat)! says:

As a Brit who has always been interested in this part of your history I find this debate fascinating! If the South still has it’s own government then why has it not been taken to a war crimes trial for the appalling treatment of Northern troops in Valley Forge? Or indeed the mass slaughter of captured Black troops and their white Officers? It does appear to me that the South were perfectly entitled to leave the Union even if they wanted to maintain the disgusting practice of Slavery. Had the South outlawed slavery I think that the CSA would have been recognised, certainly by GB, but with that institution in place it would have been a cold day in hell before it was recognised formally despite what all the enthusiastic CSA supporters would like to think – IT WOULD NEVER HAVE HAPPENED – sorry!

July 17, 2009 at 9:26 am
(20) Tom says:

The Confederacy was never recognized by even one other nation. Even prior to the South’s attempt to secede, they sent emissaries to France and England to negotiate support for secession and war (a convenient fact of treason that Southern apologists like to gloss over). But no nation officially recognized the Confederacy or sent any delegations to meet with them.

Unfortunately the “Lost Cause” movement of Southern apologists rises from the grave every few years and a variety of myths of the Lost Cause are treated as fact by the neo-Confederates.

One of their favorites is that the war was about states’ rights, when even the Southern states declared it was about slavery: http://avalon.law.yale.edu/19th_century/csa_scarsec.asp

In case you care to count how many times slavery is mentioned by the South Carolina legislature as the cause of the war, I counted 18.

Another myth was that the South had a Constitutional right to secede. It did not. The Constitution does not mention secession even once. In fact, the drafters of the Constitution specifically rejected the idea in their discussions. Once the Southern states entered the Union, they were bound to it by their word and deed. The only way to believe in the right to secession is to believe in the Constitution as a “living” document.

Unfortunately the Southern “Cause” has been elevated to an article of faith. Many of the modern adherents to the Lost Cause mythology have an extremely hard time even admitting the South surrendered.

September 25, 2009 at 1:34 am
(21) James from TENNESSEE says:

It seems pathetic to suggest that to be an Independent country one must look to another foreign power for its legitimacy.
For all you loyal U.S. citizens out there, hear a few words from your Declaration of Independence, from “The State Of Great Britain”,
( “THE UNANIMOUS DECLARATION OF THE THIRTEEN UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” ).

GOVERNMENTS ARE INSTITUTED AMONG MEN, DERIVING THEIR JUST POWERS FROM THE CONSENT OF THE GOVERNED”.

Was this a declaration of secession from The State Of Great Britain ? Did they have anymore Right to dissolve their connection to Great Britain than did any of the sovereign States that dissolved their federal relations with the United States Of America ?
Did the sovereign State Of Tennessee have the RIGHT to secede from the federal Union ? No, it did NOT have the RIGHT. What it did have, and Does have, is the POWER to dissolve its relations with the federal Union, States do not have RIGHTS. RIGHTS are a gift from GOD to man, not to States. Again, hear the words of your own Declaration of Independence,
” Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed”.
( note, no mention of RIGHTS.)
The question of Secession is not about the Confederate government, but rather about the Sovereignty of a State. A States cannot be a State unless it is a SOVEREIGN, If it is not a sovereign, then it exists under the dominion of another, and therefore is a province,
( an administrative district of a nation ,or empire).
If the United States of America are indeed United States and not just provinces under the dominion of a Federal Empire, then they therefore are sovereigns mutually agreeing on a compact , contract, or constitution. As sovereign States they have the power to do all acts, and things that independent States are given the authority to do by its citizens.
As for Tennessee and its declaration of Independence from the Federal union, it did so as a RIGHT of free and Independent people, granting the authority and power to the Sovereign STATE OF TENNESSEE !
TODAY WE EXIST AS AN OCCUPIED STATE UNDER THE TYRANNY OF THE FEDERAL EMPIRE OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. AS A VOLUNTARY MEMBER OF THE CONFEDERATE STATES OF AMERICA OUR STATE WAS MALICIOUSLY ATTACKED AND MOLESTED BY THE ARMY OF THE FEDERAL EMPIRE. OUR STATE GOVERNMENT, WAS DISBANDED BY FORCE, OUR GOVERNOR ISHAM HARRIS WAS FORCED TO FLEE OFFICE, OUR GOVERNOR ELECT ROBERT CARUTHERS WAS NOT ALLOWED TO TAKE OFFICE, AND A MILITARY GOVERNOR WAS PLACED IN OFFICE UNTIL A SHAM ELECTION WAS RIGGED BY THE FEDERAL EMPIRE OF THE UNITED STATES, IN WHICH NO CONFEDERATES, FORMER CONFEDERATES OR CONFEDERATE SYMPATHIZERS WERE ALLOWED TO PARTICIPATE. UNDER THIS SHAM ELECTION THE TERRORIST, WILLIAM BROWNLOW WAS PLACED IN OFFICE, IT WAS UNDER THIS PUPPET GOVERNMENT THAT TENNESSEE WAS READMITTED TO THE FEDERAL UNION, NOT AT THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE !
THE FEDERAL EMPIRE HAS TAKEN CONTROL OF OUR EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM AND DISTORTED HISTORY MAKING GENERATIONS OF OUR CHILDREN IGNORANT OF THEIR HISTORY AND CREATING A MISGUIDED LOYALTY TO THE AGGRESSORS, THE FEDERAL EMPIRE OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

READ THESE WORDS FROM NICCOLO MACHIAVELLI….

“…[T]hey must at least retain the semblance of the old forms; so that it may seem to the people that there has been no change in the institutions, even though in fact they are entirely different from the old ones. For the great majority of mankind are satisfied with appearances, as though they were realities, and are often even more influenced by the things that seem than by those that are…. [The conqueror should] not wish that the people… should have occasion to regret the loss of any of their old customs….” Niccolo Machiavelli, “The Prince and the Discourses” (New York: Random House, 1950), pages 18, 182-183
……………………………………………………………………………….

DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE AND ORDINANCE dissolving the federal relations between the State of Tennessee and the United States of America.

First. We, the people of the State of Tennessee, waiving any expression of opinion as to the abstract doctrine of secession, but asserting the right, as a free and independent people, to alter, reform, or abolish our form of government in such manner as we think proper, do ordain and declare that all the laws and ordinances by which the State of Tennessee became a member of the Federal Union of the United States of America are hereby abrogated and annulled, and that all the rights, functions, and powers which by any of said laws and ordinances were conveyed to the Government of the United States, and to absolve ourselves from all the obligations, restraints, and duties incurred thereto; and do hereby henceforth become a free, sovereign, and independent State.

Second. We furthermore declare and ordain that article 10, sections 1 and 2, of the constitution of the State of Tennessee, which requires members of the General Assembly and all officers, civil and military, to take an oath to support the Constitution of the United States be, and the same are hereby, abrogated and annulled, and all parts of the constitution of the State of Tennessee making citizenship of the United States a qualification for office and recognizing the Constitution of the United States as the supreme law of this State are in like manner abrogated and annulled.

Third. We furthermore ordain and declare that all rights acquired and vested under the Constitution of the United States, or under any act of Congress passed in pursuance thereof, or under any laws of this State, and not incompatible with this ordinance, shall remain in force and have the same effect as if this ordinance had not been passed.

Source: Official Records, Ser. IV, vol. 1, p. 290.

[Sent to referendum May 6, 1861 by the legislature, and approved by the voters by a vote of 104,471 to 47,183 on June 8, 1861.

September 25, 2009 at 1:54 am
(22) James from TENNESSEE says:

ITS TIME TO END THE FEDERAL EMPIRE OF THE UNITED STATES OCCUPATION OF THE CONFEDERATE STATES OF AMERICA.
JUST GET OUT !!!!

FOR OUR CONFEDERATE CITIZENS GO TO YOUR OFFICIAL GOVERNMENTS WEB SITE.
CSA.gov

September 25, 2009 at 1:59 am
(23) James from TENNESSEE says:

Sorry, that’s CSAgov.org

September 25, 2009 at 3:23 pm
(24) Kurt Konrath says:

BRAVO, BRAVO, to James from Tennessee, you nailed it. Finially someone who can distinguish the true meaning of our existance under the constitution and the true sanctity of our states rights.Per your quote
“THE FEDERAL EMPIRE HAS TAKEN CONTROL OF OUR EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM AND DISTORTED HISTORY MAKING GENERATIONS OF OUR CHILDREN IGNORANT OF THEIR HISTORY AND CREATING A MISGUIDED LOYALTY TO THE AGGRESSORS, THE FEDERAL EMPIRE OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.” could not have said it any better.

The way things are going the CSA, maybe not in its original form, will rise up again. This time any realation to slavery will not be restricted to color.

November 28, 2010 at 7:25 am
(25) Zacharias says:

The Confederate States of America had everything a well maintained nation should have. A president, cabinet, congress, senate, ambassotors, army, navy, capital, and currency.
Despite modern ill equiped claims that slavery was the cause of the English or French not recognizing the Confederacy the real fact is that these two nations only wished to avoid a world war. Both countries understood from Secretary Seward’s threats that the U.S. was well in its means to fight a bigger war than it was already fighting.
Abraham Lincoln went so far to avoid the recognition of Confederate independence that one northerner quiped, “You won’t admit your fighting somebody but at least admit you are at war with someone.”
It took the colonies more than ten years to form their Union while the CSA had a government and constitution up in months.

January 4, 2012 at 1:02 am
(26) Matthew says:

@Zacharias What was happening during those ten years? Why did it take that long? The declaration of independence didn’t make America a nation, nor did the Continental congress, winning the Revolution did. The South never won their revolution. They were not a country.

May 24, 2012 at 4:42 am
(27) GaryD says:

Interesting debate. If you look at everything that is said you must come to the conclusion that even though the southern states proclaimed they had seceeded from the United States they in all actuality were fighting for their right to. That being the case the fact that we teach our children that the United States became a country on July4, 1776 is in itself not true because we were fighting a war to become independent that did not end until 1783 when we signed a treaty with England. One tiny country recognized us in 1777 as a country. Adding to this is the fact that the Continental Army was disbanded after the war and before the signing of the treaty. The first military unit, which was set up by Alexander Hamilton in 1790 to collect taxes, was not The U.S. Army as taught in our schools. It was called The Revenue Cutter Service at that time but would continue over the years to change names. Today it is referred to as The U.S. Coast Guard. I say that not to offend any one who has ever served as a member of The U.S. Army as I am extremely proud of all those who have ever served this country but to show that it would be a wonderful change of pace to teach the truth in schools in this country instead of political balogna.

Leave a Comment


Line and paragraph breaks are automatic. Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title="">, <b>, <i>, <strike>

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.