Why Did the Confederate Constitution Have a Single-Term Presidency?

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The Constitution of the CSA altered very little of the US Constitution except for explicit defenses of state sovereignty, slavery, low tariffs, and other issues central to Confederate political ideology. Why, then, did it change Presidential terms from a (then-unlimited) four-year cycle to a single one of six years? This would be more understandable if there had been recent experience of a strong Presidency, but all the ones since Jackson had been effectively nonentities. Was it just from the supposition that any leader who managed to shepherd the CSA to independence would be electorally unstoppable, so the framers decided to pre-limit him, as it were? Was Presidential term limit reform already a going debate in mid-19th century America that the CSA just decided to use its blank slate to modify?
 
One of the complaints about two four year terms of the President is that in the first four years Presidents sometimes decide issues based on the idea of setting themselves up for getting reelected again. Another idea is that the six-year term and only once is that it keeps the President focused on running things and not on will I get elected again.
 
The only real difference between the US and CS constitution when it came to state's rights was that the CS constitution denied the states the rights to ever abolish slavery, so it actually gave the states less rights than the US one.
the Confederates were a bunch of hypocrites? shocker
 
the Confederates were a bunch of hypocrites? shocker
Of course. The same politicians and media men from the south that cried about states' rights were fine with the Missouri compromise of 1820 that denied new states the right to chose for themselves wether they wanted to be free or slave states. They were also peachy about the fugitive slave act of 1850, in which the federal government gave slave owners the right to simply point at a black person in a free state, claim it was one of his runaway slaves and the local state authorities were then required to apprehend the black person and deliver him or her to the slave owner, without trial or even a tribunal trying the case. Basically, the federal government forced states to spend resources, suspend Haebus Corpus and completely circumvent their own laws and legal system and denying their citizens rights they had according to the state constitution.
 
I would guess their thinking was a longer single term would remove the reelection politics. like having Senators elected by their states, rather then popular vote, and giving them 6 year terms to free them from some political influences, a president could think about the national interest. One term also makes it harder for a president to accumulate executive power. Washington setting the precedent of only running for 2 terms was good one. FDR being elected 4 times was a very bad precedent, that was wisely corrected by Constitutional Amendment, FDR was very much a power grabber.
 
The Constitution of the CSA altered very little of the US Constitution except for explicit defenses of state sovereignty, slavery, low tariffs, and other issues central to Confederate political ideology. Why, then, did it change Presidential terms from a (then-unlimited) four-year cycle to a single one of six years? This would be more understandable if there had been recent experience of a strong Presidency, but all the ones since Jackson had been effectively nonentities. Was it just from the supposition that any leader who managed to shepherd the CSA to independence would be electorally unstoppable, so the framers decided to pre-limit him, as it were? Was Presidential term limit reform already a going debate in mid-19th century America that the CSA just decided to use its blank slate to modify?
I think that they were worried about strong and popular president who could try push some such things what Southern Founding Fathers couldn't accept.
 
The Constitution of the CSA altered very little of the US Constitution except for explicit defenses of state sovereignty, slavery, low tariffs, and other issues central to Confederate political ideology. Why, then, did it change Presidential terms from a (then-unlimited) four-year cycle to a single one of six years? This would be more understandable if there had been recent experience of a strong Presidency, but all the ones since Jackson had been effectively nonentities. Was it just from the supposition that any leader who managed to shepherd the CSA to independence would be electorally unstoppable, so the framers decided to pre-limit him, as it were? Was Presidential term limit reform already a going debate in mid-19th century America that the CSA just decided to use its blank slate to modify?
They were explicitly afraid of a strong, central executive. There was a very recent -- in fact: current -- example of that exact threat: his name was Abraham Lincoln. In a wider sense, the entire ideology of the Republican Party embodied this existential threat to the notion of state sovereignty. (And whatever else we may say about the Confederates, the gradual but ultimately immense increase in size of the Federal government since the essentially 'minarchist' days of the Antebellum period certainly demonstrates that fears of encroaching Federal power weren't exactly insubstantial.)

What I'm saying is: the Confederates knew that the central power would increasingly be dominated by the North, that (per the Republican Party's essentially neo-Hamiltonian ideals) it would increasingly amass power, and that it would ultimately use this power to abolish slavery (and all other elements of states' rights, but for the Southern elite, slavery was the Big Thing). This looming threat is what prompted secession in the first place, and it's what informed all their revisions to the Constitution: explictly small government, explicitly states' rights, explictly pro-slavery (the Big Thing, superseding states' rights), and explicitly against a too-powerful executive.

From their perspective, it made perfect sense.
 
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The Constitution of the CSA altered very little of the US Constitution except for explicit defenses of state sovereignty, slavery, low tariffs, and other issues central to Confederate political ideology. Why, then, did it change Presidential terms from a (then-unlimited) four-year cycle to a single one of six years? This would be more understandable if there had been recent experience of a strong Presidency, but all the ones since Jackson had been effectively nonentities. Was it just from the supposition that any leader who managed to shepherd the CSA to independence would be electorally unstoppable, so the framers decided to pre-limit him, as it were? Was Presidential term limit reform already a going debate in mid-19th century America that the CSA just decided to use its blank slate to modify?
The Confederate constitution didn't guarantee low tariffs. It said tariffs could only be used for raising revenue and not the protection of domestic industries but didn't outline any criteria for distinguishing between the two nor did it grant states rights they didn't have under the US constitution. Yes, the preamble said "each state, acting in its sovereign and independent character, but it also proclaimed the CSA would be "a permanent federal government." The only real difference other than the 6 year single term for presidents was the defense of slavery.
 
They were explicitly afraid of a strong, central executive. There was a very recent -- in fact: current -- example of that exact threat: his name was Abraham Lincoln. In a wider sense, the entire ideology of the Republican Party embodied this existential threat to the notion of state sovereignty. (And whatever else we may say about the Confederates, the gradual but ultimately immense increase in size of the Federal government since the essentially 'minarchist' days of the Antebellum period certainly demonstrates that fears of encroaching Federal power weren't exactly insubstantial.)

What I'm saying is: the Confederates knew that the central power would increasingly be dominated by the North, that (per the Republican Party's essentially neo-Hamiltonian ideals) it would increasingly amass power, and that it would ultimately use this power to abolish slavery (and all other elements of states' rights, but for the Southern elite, slavery was the Big Thing). This looming threat is what prompted secession in the first place, and it's what informed all their revisions to the Constitution: explictly small government, explicitly states' rights, explictly pro-slavery (the Big Thing, superseding states' rights), and explicitly against a too-powerful executive.

From their perspective, it made perfect sense.
Not to mention Jefferson Davis's centralization (though sometimes counterproductive) of power at the national level.
 
Not to mention Jefferson Davis's centralization (though sometimes counterproductive) of power at the national level.
During a war on that scale, you'll always see both sides turning into command economies, provided the war last long enough. It's kind of hilarious to see in the context of the CSA, but it's not unexpected.
 
I have no idea, but I do have a question about the CSA Constitution, In Article 1, Section 8, Part 3 of the CS Constitution, effectively the CSA's version of the Commerce Clause, it specifically says

To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian tribes; but neither this, nor any other clause contained in the Constitution, shall ever be construed to delegate the power to Congress to appropriate money for any internal improvement intended to facilitate commerce; except for the purpose of furnishing lights, beacons, and buoys, and other aids to navigation upon the coasts, and the improvement of harbors and the removing of obstructions in river navigation; in all which cases such duties shall be laid on the navigation facilitated thereby as may be necessary to pay the costs and expenses thereof
So, in other words, you cannot create a obstruction of the river for any reason other than to aid navigation. Why was the Commerce Clause specifically altered in the CSA Constitution to ban constructing anything in the river? Did the Confederate Congress not see any need for dams or any other kind of water-based infrastructure?
 
During a war on that scale, you'll always see both sides turning into command economies, provided the war last long enough. It's kind of hilarious to see in the context of the CSA, but it's not unexpected.
The CSA centralized far more than the Union did (and that assumes that Davis, or his successors, would give up such powers. Even if they did, precedence has been set for Richmond to power grab during an "emergency").
 
I have no idea, but I do have a question about the CSA Constitution, In Article 1, Section 8, Part 3 of the CS Constitution, effectively the CSA's version of the Commerce Clause, it specifically says



So, in other words, you cannot create a obstruction of the river for any reason other than to aid navigation. Why was the Commerce Clause specifically altered in the CSA Constitution to ban constructing anything in the river? Did the Confederate Congress not see any need for dams or any other kind of water-based infrastructure?
There's no dam ban in that clause, just a ban on federally funded non-clearing river engineering.
 
I have no idea, but I do have a question about the CSA Constitution, In Article 1, Section 8, Part 3 of the CS Constitution, effectively the CSA's version of the Commerce Clause, it specifically says



So, in other words, you cannot create a obstruction of the river for any reason other than to aid navigation. Why was the Commerce Clause specifically altered in the CSA Constitution to ban constructing anything in the river? Did the Confederate Congress not see any need for dams or any other kind of water-based infrastructure?
Much like the tariff and what it can be used for, I believe that whether the federal government had the authority to build and pay for "internal improvements", such as canals and interstate roads among other things, was a hotly debated issue during the early republic-antebellum period. The CSA constitution isn't saying they cant be built, just that the central government can't authorize or pay for them.

I too have often wondered where the single term six year presidency in the CSA constitution came from, but to me it always seemed like the Confederate founding fathers took the U.S. constitution and then took every argument/disagreement they had ever had with the north/New England and wrote their opinion into their new constitution and hit print.
 
The CSA centralized far more than the Union did (and that assumes that Davis, or his successors, would give up such powers. Even if they did, precedence has been set for Richmond to power grab during an "emergency").
Yes, that last bit is probably true, to the extent that all government power will expand over time. Small governments always become big governments if they can get away with it.

Of course, the first line is a bit of a skewed take: the war was primarily fought in the South, which already had by far the lesser amount of resources of the two sides, and lost progressively more as the war proceeded. Under those circumstances, you get things like government rationing, command-economy war production quotas etc.

It would be fairly interesting to see how things would develop from there in a post-war CSA. I have often argued that in the early USA, "federalism versus anti-federalism" wasn't all that regionalist. The North had staunch opponents of central power, and the Federalist Party had a whole bunch of Deep South backers (mostly the slavocrats, as it happened). Only when it became clear that the North was growing way faster, and would eventually overtake the South, did the battle lines get drawn. "Central power yay!" increasingly became a purely Northern attitude (also because Northern industry constantly wanted the Federal government to be more protectionist while the Southern agrarians wanted free trade and therefore small government). "States'rights yay!" became a Southern thing, mainly because it logically became the battle cry of both slavery and free trade in protecting both from Federal encroachment.

Now suppose the South had gained independence. Initially, the culture of "states'rights" would still be deeply entrenched. But with the threat that was the North basically gone, the opposition to its influence -- the opposition to centralism -- would probably evaporate. That being said, the very nature of the Southern economy would favour a smaller state than the industrial North (and the Northern-led USA of OTL) would pursue. I do really think that the war-time measures would be temporary; Southern elites wouldn't stand for things like that becoming "standard". It would be against their interests. The staunch "minarchism" would slowly fade out, and Southern government would grow gradually, but I think it would remain quite small compared to the North (and compared to the OTL USA's Federal government).

As for Davis potentially not being willing to give up his power: well, that's exactly what the "one-term-only" clause was for, I suspect.
 
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Eventually, CSA agriculture is going to be entirely concentrated in the hands of the big plantation owners (thanks to economies of scale, and after agricultural shocks like the boll weevils, the big planters can buy up all the bankrupt yeoman farms since the big planters and their cronies control all the credit). Displaced lower and middle class farmers can't even get factory work, since a lot of antebellum southern factory work, including the skilled parts, was already being done by slaves.

After a couple of generations, slaves and poor whites are going to start reading Marx and put two and two together...
 
The only real difference between the US and CS constitution when it came to state's rights was that the CS constitution denied the states the rights to ever abolish slavery, so it actually gave the states less rights than the US one.
Technically speaking, the Confederate Constitution did not deny the states the right to abolish slavery. Yes, it says "No bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law denying or impairing the right of property in negro slaves shall be passed" but that is in the context of the portion of Article I which deals with the powers of Congress, not of the states.
https://avalon.law.yale.edu/19th_century/csa_csa.asp When the Confederate Constitution wants to limit the powers of the states, it uses language specifically referring to the states: " No State shall enter into any treaty, alliance, or confederation; grant letters of marque and reprisal; coin money; make anything but gold and silver coin a tender in payment of debts; pass any bill of attainder, or ex post facto law, or law impairing the obligation of contracts; or grant any title of nobility." Note that this passage does not say anything about the "right of property in negro slaves."

However, while a Confederate state could forbid its own citizens from owning slaves, it could not forbid citizens of other Confederate states from "transit or sojourn" in the state with their slaves: "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." https://avalon.law.yale.edu/19th_century/csa_csa.asp#a4 "Transit" implies something short-term but "sojourn" can last for a long time as long as you do not announce your intention to become a permanent resident of the state. What the Confederate Constitution did here was to make explicit a "right" (like the right to take slaves into the territories) which southerners believed was already present in the US Constitution; and as the Dred Scott decision had supported their position on the territorial issue, the US Supreme Court, had the ACW not broken out, would probably have supported their position on this issue. As I wrote some time ago, " What was more likely and more insidious was the possibility that the court would establish slavery in the North gradually by first recognizing slaveholders' rights briefly to pass through northern states with their human "property" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lemmon_v._New_York and then step by step expanding that right to one of staying there with the slaves indefinitely--and perhaps even buying and selling them. (The issue was often spoken of as the slaveholder's right of "transit or sojourn." "Transit" might seem to imply a short presence in the free states on the way to a slave state; but "sojourn" could mean virtually indefinite presence of slaveholders and their slaves in northern states, just as long as the slaveholders do not declare an intention to become permanent residents--remember that John Emerson with his slave Dred Scott had "sojourned" in Illinois and the Wisconsin Territory for years...)" https://www.alternatehistory.com/forum/threads/wi-the-war-of-northern-secession.471503/#post-19648288

It would therefore technically be possible for free states to join the Confederacy (subject to "transit or sojourn" etc.). Indeed, some Confederate leaders did hope to lure nonslaveholding states into the Confederacy--to (in effect) make the Confederacy the "new" or "real" United States, with the "fanatical" New England states (and perhaps Upstate New York if New York City seceded from the state of New York) left out. Others however feared this would just mean re-creating the slavery issue on Confederate soil--and partly for that reason, it was made harder to admit states into the Confederacy than it had been to the United States. ("Other States may be admitted into this Confederacy by a vote of two-thirds of the whole House of Representatives and two-thirds of the Senate, the Senate voting by States...")
 
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The one term president for six years was a control on the president being in office for extended years. Legally you could run for president in the usa as many times as you wanted at this point which FDR did. The Confederate gained powers in exchange for this cap including the Line Item Veto. I dont think one is better than the other just different. It's one of the areas where the Confederate Founding fathers saw themselves as streamlining the us Constitution.
 
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