November 6, 1861 – Elections took place throughout the Confederacy to replace the provisional national government with a permanent one.
The Confederate government set this date for a national election, but states had conducted their own balloting based on their constitutions. An editorial in the Richmond Daily-Dispatch stated:
“For the first time the people of the Confederate States will to-day elect their own President and Vice President. There is no opposition to either of the candidates for these high positions. But it is most important that this fact should not be permitted to keep a single voter from the polls. Every loyal citizen of the Confederate States should feel that he has a duty to discharge to his country to-day by voting for the President and Vice President, and thus ensuring a full vote, and thereby letting the world see that the new Government is the work of the People of the South, and not of a faction, as is falsely pretended by the Yankee despotism.”
The Democratic Party was the only major political party operating in the Confederacy, making the focus of this election more local than national. Voters tended to cast ballots according to prewar preferences, ignoring candidates’ stances on secession as long as they supported the Confederacy. Five states (Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Florida, and Alabama) allowed soldiers to vote by absentee ballot.
Members of the Confederate House of Representatives were generally chosen at public meetings, with most provisional congressmen winning permanent seats. State legislatures selected the Confederate senators.
Jefferson Davis and Alexander Stephens were the unanimous choices for permanent president and vice president. According to the Confederate Constitution, they were to serve one six-year term. Inauguration ceremonies were scheduled for February 22, George Washington’s Birthday.
CivilWarDailyGazette.com (November 6); Davis, Jefferson, The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government: All Volumes (Heraklion Press, Kindle Edition 2013, 1889), Loc 12382-90; Faust, Patricia L., Historical Times Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Civil War (New York: Harper & Row, 1986, Patricia L. Faust ed.), p. 237-38; Foote, Shelby, The Civil War, A Narrative: Fort Sumter to Perryville (New York: Vintage Books, 1958), p. 132; Long, E.B. with Long, Barbara, The Civil War Day by Day (New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1971), p. 135