Jefferson Davis Named Provisional President of the CSA in 1861

On February 9, 1861 Jefferson Davis was named provisional president of the Confederate States of America.

But it was on this date, February 10th, in 1861 that he, and the rest of the world, learned about it. His inauguration occurred barely a week later on February 18, 1861.

“The news from the South this morning is of the highest importance” was the opening of the announcement in the New York Herald announcing Jefferson’s election and the adoption of a constitution for the Southern Confederacy.

In conformity with a resolution of the Confederate Congress, Davis immediately appointed a Peace Commission to resolve the Confederacy’s differences with the Union. In March 1861, before the bombardment of Fort Sumter, the commission was to travel to Washington, D.C., to offer to pay for any Federal property on Southern soil, as well as the Southern portion of the national debt; but it was not authorized to discuss terms for reunion.

After serving for most of 1861 as provisional President, Davis went on to be elected to a 6-year term as President of the Confederate States of America on November 6, 1861.

The News

The news from the South this morning is of the highest importance.

The Southern Congress at Montgomery, Alabama, on Friday unanimously adopted a constitution for a provisional government. It is in substance the same as the constitution of the Union. It gives the congress ample power as regards the questions of revenue and taxation. It prohibits the importation of negroes from Africa and other foreign countries, as well as the introduction of slaves from any State not a member of the confederacy.

The Congress yesterday unanimously elected Jefferson Davis, of Mississippi, for President, and Alexander H. Stephens, of Georgia, for Vice President of the Southern confederacy, and the President of the Congress was directed to appoint committees on Foreign Affairs, of Finance, on Military and Naval affairs, on Postal Affairs, on Commerce and on Patents.

An ordinance was passed continuing in force, until repealed or altered by the Southern Congress, all laws of the Unites States in force or use on the 1st of November last. It is understood that under this law a tariff will be laid on all goods brought from the Unites States. The Provisional Government is now fairly under way.

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