In February of 1861 six states seceded from the United States of America and declared themselves independent. They formed a new, rival country known as the Confederate States of America. In the months that followed, seven more American states followed suit, slicing the former United States into two clearly-divded rival factions.
The Civil War that followed, in which the armies of the Confederacy fought the armies of the remaining United States, is one of the seminial events of American history. But why was the Civil War even fought in the first place? Hecj, why did the Confederacy even exist?
Modern-day Confederate apologists insist the Southern states only separated in response to legitimate political grievances, namely that the South's capacity for self-government was being unjustly restrained by a tyrannical federal government dominated by northern politicians who had no respect for "states' rights," federalism, and local sovereignty. Everyone else insists the Confederacy was founded for a much less noble reason, namely to keep slavery legal at a time when the rest of country was uniting against the practice.
We can get a good glimpse into the founding principles of the Confederacy by taking an in-depth look at the Confederate constitution, which was approved, and came into use by the rebel states on March 11, 1861. The document is largely a word-for-word copy of the United States constitution, but with several key changes. The changes offer the clearest window of insight into how precisely the CSA intended to be different from the USA, and why.
Before we get into a line-by-line comparison, I should point out the minor, mostly cosmetic changes that occurred during the revision process:
All references to the "United States" were changed to the "Confederate States;" references to the "Union" were changed to "Confederacy."
The CSA's constitution's punctuation, capitalization, and in some cases spelling, are all updated from 18th Century to 19th Century English standards.
The CSA constitution numbers its clauses. In most cases, each paragraph from the US constitution is numbered as a single clause, but in some cases the CSA merges multiple clauses into one big one, or breaks up long paragraphs into several smaller ones