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    [Civil War] Constitution of the Confederate States of America. (Montgomery, 1861). 29 broadsheets printed solely on the recto, 8.5" x 14", third and final draft. Roman and italic type, printed with line sections numbered. Heading reads: "In Congress - March 1861 - Amended constitution - 100 copies ordered to be printed." 19 contemporary corrections are made throughout, in ink; there are 3 additional corrections made in pencil, but the date is unknown. Bound together at the top margin with string. Protected by white boards bound with gold cloth on the spine. Some staining along the edges, especially on the front leaf; verso of the final sheet is heavily stained. Small tear on the top right corner of leaf 3. Possibly a later version to be submitted to the Convention for amendments and final drafting.

    In February 1861, forty-three delegates met at a Constitutional Convention held in Montgomery, Alabama. Represented were the states of South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Florida, and Louisiana; all recently seceded from the United States (the delegates from Texas were en route). They knew that time was limited, the winds of war were blowing, and they must form a new government before the newly elected United States president, Abraham Lincoln, took office. They drew up a Provisional Constitution that was to last for one year only. But one month later, the Convention drafted the third and final copy of the Constitution of the Confederate States of America.

    The day after the Provisional Constitution was signed, a twelve man framing committee was appointed and work on the permanent constitution was convened, chaired by South Carolina secessionist leader Robert Barnwell Rhett, Sr. Rhett proposed using the U. S. Constitution as a model and "make only the most necessary changes." Their task would be, he stated, "a matter of restoration, than of innovation." Amongst his proposals for the new constitution was the exclusion of a preamble; an idea that all residents of the new nation, excluding Indians, but especially African slaves, who were only counted as three-fifths in the
    U. S. were to be counted as a full person; a reform on taxation; the creation of a Capital similar to the District of Columbia with land given freely by a State or States; a six year term for the president (limited to one, non-consecutive term at a time); the guaranteed extension of slavery into new territories; the expulsion of any State that should abolish slavery (he later wanted to add an amendment barring any free state from entering); and others. In the end, only the term of the president and the protection of slavery were kept.

    Structurally, the final draft of the Confederate Constitution is almost identical to the U. S. Constitution. One major difference is the inclusion, almost verbatim, of the first twelve amendments of the U. S. Constitution into the body of the Confederate Constitution under Article I, Section 9.

    Rhett and his committee presented the draft to the Convention on February 28, 1861, and it was ratified eleven days later, on March 11. By the end of 1861, all thirteen states of the Confederate States of America had ratified the Constitution.

    This draft is one of only four copies known. It belonged to Albert Gaius Hills, a Boston Journal war correspondent (and for a three month period in 1863, First Lieutenant in the United States Army) who was present throughout the expedition to capture New Orleans in 1862. Hills never had children and his personal effects, including his journals, collection of newspapers from the war, the draft of the Confederate Constitution, maps, etc. ended up in the sole possession of his brother, Frederick Calvin Hills.

    References: Parrish & Willingham, Confederate Imprints 7; Streeter sale 1275; William C. Davis, Look Away: A History of the Confederate States of America, 2002.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    December, 2011
    8th-9th Thursday-Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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