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The President of the Confederate States of America was the Head of State and Head of Government of the Confederate States of America, which was formed from the states which declared their secession from the United Statesmarker. The only person to hold the office was Jefferson Davis. He was President from February 18, 1861, to May 5, 1865, and his Vice President was Alexander Stephens. Howell Cobb, as president of the Provisional Confederate Congress, was the highest ranking Confederate official before the election of Davis, but he was not titled President of the Confederate States.

Office

According to the Confederate States Constitution, the President's office was almost entirely the same as that of the President of the United States. The President was to be:
  • chosen by an electoral college from each state in the Confederacy. Each state had as many electors as they had members in the Confederate Congress (senators + representatives).
  • elected jointly with a Vice President running mate (but the President and VP could not be citizens of the same state)
  • either a born citizen of the Confederacy or a born citizen of the United States born prior to December 20, 1860 and to have "been fourteen years a resident within the limits of the Confederate States, as they may exist at the time of his election."
  • at least thirty-five years of age


Oath of Office

Like the Oath of office of the President of the United States, the oath or affirmation of office of the President of the Confederate States was established in the Confederate States Constitution and was mandatory for a President upon beginning a term of office. The wording, almost an exact copy of the United States' version, was prescribed by the Constitution (Article II, Section 1, Clause 10), as follows:

As with almost every President of the United States, upon taking the oath on February 18, 1861, Jefferson Davis added the words "So help me God" to the end of the oath.

Powers



The President of the Confederacy held most of the same powers as the President of the United States. Though he could not directly propose legislation, he was given the power to nominate members of the Supreme Court of the Confederate States, ambassadors, cabinet members, and other executive officials to be approved by the Senate.

He was also Commander-in-Chief of the Confederate States Army and held veto power over legislation.

The President could be impeached by Congress for "treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors."

Differences

There were a few key differences between the Confederate President and the United States President:
  • Unlike the United States, which allowed for indefinite re-election (until the passage of the 22nd Amendment in 1951) of both the President and Vice President after a four-year term, the Confederacy limited both offices to only one six-year term. After the war, this innovation gained considerable popularity in the re-constituted Union, most notably being endorsed by Rutherford B. Hayes in his inaugural address.
  • The Confederate president had the ability to subject a bill to a line-item veto, a power held by most state governors.


See also

Election ballot, Virginia, November 6, 1861



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