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The Confederate Constitution

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The Congress of Delegates from the seceding Southern States convened at Montgomery, Alabama, on February 4, 1861. They quickly adopted a provisional Constitution, and in less than a month, devised and approved a permanent Constitution, which was adopted March 11, 1861.

The original signed manuscript consists of five vellum sheets pasted together into a roll 148 1/2 inches long. This manuscript was part of a wagon load of boxes rescued from the railroad station in Chester, S.C. in April of 1865 by Felix G. DeFontaine, a newspaper correspondent during the war. The boxes, which had been abandoned by fleeing troops, contained the records of the Confederate government, which were being sent south after the evacuation of Richmond. The prizes among the records which DeFontaine recovered were the two Constitutions of the Confederacy, Provisional and Permanent.

DeFontaine sold the manuscript copy of the Provisional Constitution at auction in New York in 1883. It is now in the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond. He sold the manuscript copy of the Permanent Constitution to Mrs. George Wymberley Jones DeRenne on July 4, 1883. The University of Georgia purchased the Constitution from the DeRenne family in 1939.

 


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