8 Confederate Changes
by Dick Tarpley
(Reprinted from the Abilene Reporter-News, Aug. 8, 1993)
Most Americans consider the Constitution inviolate. The
Founding Fathers produced a document envied and copied by
much of the world.
However, the Confederate constitution of 1861 made changes
that many think would reduce costs and improve government.
Confederate leaders copied the U.S. Constitution in most
cases using the exact language of Madison, Jefferson,
Franklin & Co.
But eight major changes put greater restraints on the
Southern government than existed in the North. Stephen Cain
outlined the differences in an
article in the May issue of Freeman, a magazine of the
Foundation for Economic Education, published in New York.
The foundation is a
"non-political, educational champion of private property,
the free market, and limited government."
The eight changes:
Welfare didn't mean the same then as now, of course. But
the federal government would have no role the terrible
floods in the Midwest, the Florida
hurricane, the drought-induced destruction of crops in the
South, aid to dependent mothers, etc.
- A one term limit of six years for the president.
- Promotion of free trade by prohibiting protective
duties levied for the benefit of any industry.
- Elimination of cost overruns. "Congress shall grant no
extra compensation to any public contractor, officer,
agent, or servant, after such contract
shall have been made or service rendered." Of course, part
of the cost overruns comes from agencies changing their
minds or finding defects while a
project is underway.
- Line-Item Veto. It wasn't called that. But the
president was authorized to approve or veto any item in a
bill. That would eliminate horse-trading in
Congress, which swells appropriations severely.
- No Riders on Bills. "Every law or resolution having the
force of law, shall relate to but one subject, and that
shall be expressed in the title." What
a wonderful restriction to the present system of
congressmen tacking completely unrelated bills to
legislation, forcing legislators to take the two
together or nothing at all.
- The Post Office department was required to pay its own
way. No appropriations could come from government. Mail
service, of course, might
become more or less efficient.
- Reduction of "pork barrel" legislation. "No clause
contained in the constitution shall ever be construed to
delegate the power to Congress to
appropriate money for any internal improvement intended to
facilitate commerce" except for navigational aids or harbor
and river improvements.
Though the federal government would pay the costs, the
constitution required repayment through user duties.
- Paying for the "general welfare" was omitted. The U.S.
constitution authorizes laying and collecting "taxes,
duties, imposts, and excises, for
revenue necessary to pay the debts, provide for the common
defense and general welfare of the United States." The
Confederate constitution used
the same language through "common defense," then concluded
with "and carry on the government of the Confederate
States." "General Welfare"
Some of the Confederate rules, such as line-item veto,
limiting legislation to one item, and probably others would
gain overwhelming voter approval.
Some wouldn't even require constitutional change. But
Congress will never surrender its powerful and costly
Read the Confederate Constitution