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Confederate States of America (1861-1865) | Lake Forest College Archives and Special Collections

Name: Confederate States of America (1861-1865)
Variant Name: Confederacy


Historical Note:

After Illinois Republican candidate Abraham Lincoln's election as U.S. president in the fall of 1860, to take office in March 1861, agitation built in the southern slave states to secede from the  "union," the larger U.S., since Lincoln was reputed to represent the Abolitionist position of his party.  The confederacy was organized February 4, 1861, by seven states that already had seceded (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Texas).  Jefferson Davis was elected president the next day by representatives from the seceding states. 

Hopes for a non-violent end to the controversies ended on April 12, with the attack on the U.S.-held Fort Sumter, in Charleston, South Carolina.  This brought in four more states (Arkansas, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia), and the capital was established at Richmond, VA. 

The confederacy collapsed effectively on April 2, 1865, with the

taking of Richmond by the Union Army.  When president Jefferson Davis was captured in Georgia on May 10, 1865, there was no question that the CSA had ceased to exist.  Lee surrendered his Army to the Union commander U.S. Grant on April 9, 1865 in Virginia also.

With the indisputable collapse of the Confederacy the bonds issued by the government were worthless, and the many loyal purchasers of them lost their investments, often their major investment by that point.  The result was the impoverishment of the former ruling planter class in the South.  This is dramatically depicted in Margaret Mitchell's 1936 epic novel, Gone with the Wind.  After the Yankees have swept through, Scarlett O'Hara's father goes mad, telling her that the worthless bonds are all she has for an inheritance.  This climactic scene and Scarlett's reaction to it, defiance and conviction to regain what has been lost, epitomizes one typical response to being wiped out at the end of the war by the default of the bonds.

Sources:

http://www.civilwarhome.com/confederacyoverview.htm

http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/appomatx.htm (this source relies on documents from which it quotes).

Note Author: Arthur H. Miller, Archivist and Librarian for Special Collections, amiller@lakeforest.edu





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