Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Evil Empire: The Confederate Cabinet

According to Yale Professor David Blight, "...both sides in this war will engage in conscription, they will create the draft for the first time in American history. The Confederates were first to do it. The first Conscription Act in American history is passed in April of 1862 by the Confederate Government. It said that all able-bodied men eighteen to thirty-five, later raised to forty-five, would be conscripted into three years of service. They allowed the hiring of a substitute, which led to the charge of elitism, which was accurate."

There were brokers and all kinds of dishonest substitutes. One man is alleged to have sold himself twenty times for the bounty that he got paid to get out. There were exemptions in the Confederate conscription--public servants, ministers, teachers, editors, nurses, factory and railroad workers, miners, and telegraph operators. Among the Confederate troops out at the front they called these people "bomb-proof" positions.

And then, worst of all, in the Confederate Conscription Law in 1863, they passed what was known as the Twenty Negro Law: if you owned twenty or more slaves you were exempt from service.
The reason for that was the deep fear setting in, in 1862 across the South, that if all these white men--eighty percent of white males in the South will be in the Army--and if all these white men left the plantations it would be black men left on the plantations running the place. Any man who had twenty or more slaves was exempt, if he chose to be. This will cause tremendous resentment in the Confederate armies and ultimately become one of the causes of desertion.

The Union Conscription Law came later, it didn't come until early '63. It drafted every able-bodied man twenty years of age to forty-five years of age. It had--its exemptions were more limited.
You could escape if you could find a substitute and pay $300; hence the charge, not inaccurate, that in the North, this "people's war," as Lincoln called it, this war to save democracy, became a rich man's war and a poor man's fight.

Generous bounties were paid if you enlisted, and in the end only about six percent of all the Union forces in the Civil War were draftees. The social pressure in some communities, since regiments were formed locally, was tremendous, especially in the first two years. Approximately 20% of all Confederates were draftees and only 6% of Union troops. (The Civil War and Reconstruction Era, 1845-1877: Lecture 13 Transcript, 26 Feb. 2008, Professor David Blight, Yale University)

The Confederate Cabinet

circa 1863: The Confederate President Jefferson Davis (1808 - 1889) with his cabinet and, centre, General Robert E Lee (1807 - 1870). The cabinet members left to right are - Stephan Mallory, Judah Benjamin, Leroy Pope Walker, Davis, Lee, John Regan, Christopher Memminger, Vice-President Alexander Stephens and Robert Toombs. (Photo by MPI/Getty Images)

Constitution of the Confederate States; March 11, 1861

Article I

(3) Representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several States, which may be included within this Confederacy, according to their respective numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole number of free persons, including those bound to service for a term of years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three-fifths of all slaves. ,The actual enumeration shall be made within three years after the first meeting of the Congress of the Confederate States, and within every subsequent term of ten years, in such manner as they shall by law direct. The number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every fifty thousand, but each State shall have at least one Representative; and until such enumeration shall be made, the State of South Carolina shall be entitled to choose six; the State of Georgia ten; the State of Alabama nine; the State of Florida two; the State of Mississippi seven; the State of Louisiana six; and the State of Texas six.

Sec. 9. (I) The importation of negroes of the African race from any foreign country other than the slaveholding States or Territories of the United States of America, is hereby forbidden; and Congress is required to pass such laws as shall effectually prevent the same.

(2) Congress shall also have power to prohibit the introduction of slaves from any State not a member of, or Territory not belonging to, this Confederacy.

(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, ex post facto law, or law denying or impairing the right of property in negro slaves shall be passed.


Sec. 2. (I) The citizens of each State shall be entitled to all the privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States; and shall have the right of transit and sojourn in any State of this Confederacy, with their slaves and other property; and the right of property in said slaves shall not be thereby impaired.

(3) No slave or other person held to service or labor in any State or Territory of the Confederate States, under the laws thereof, escaping or lawfully carried into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labor; but shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such slave belongs,. or to whom such service or labor may be due.

(3) The Confederate States may acquire new territory; and Congress shall have power to legislate and provide governments for the inhabitants of all territory belonging to the Confederate States, lying without the limits of the several Sates; and may permit them, at such times, and in such manner as it may by law provide, to form States to be admitted into the Confederacy. In all such territory the institution of negro slavery, as it now exists in the Confederate States, shall be recognized and protected be Congress and by the Territorial government; and the inhabitants of the several Confederate States and Territories shall have the right to take to such Territory any slaves lawfully held by them in any of the States or Territories of the Confederate States.


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