Monday February 4, 1861
The delegates to the Montgomery convention were largely chosen by the state conventions. They were a distinguished group of southern leaders, and a surprising number were moderates. Prominent fire-eaters, as ardent secessionists were called, were often passed over in favor of more moderate men. Not surprisingly, therefore, they chose the United States Constitution as their model, and retained its basic features. There were significant changes, however, such as references to state sovereignty, slavery, and God. The Confederate constitution also provided for an item veto of appropriations, a single six-year term for the President, and for the seating of cabinet members in Congress for discussions of department matters. It expressly protected slavery in the Confederacy and its territories, but much to the dissatisfaction of radicals, it prohibited the international slave trade. Ironically, the Confederate constitution implied, but did not assert, the principle of peaceable secession. It spoke about sovereign and independent states, but also referred to a permanent federal government.
Bibliography: Thomas, Confederate Nation, pp. 56-66; Potter, Impending Crisis, p. 499; Nevins, Emergence of Lincoln, 2: 433-35.