The Confederate States of America, commonly called the Confederacy, was a republic formed by 11 states that seceded from the United States. This nation existed from 1860-61 to 1865 and following the American Civil War, the Confederacy was dissolved and the states were readmitted into the US federal union.
The divide between the Northern and Southern states of the Union had been growing deeper for years before the American Civil War broke out. The Southern States grew convinced that their agrarian lifestyle which depended greatly on slave labor was threatened by the fast pace of industrialization and liberal ideas of the North. The high tariffs that protected and promoted the goods produced in the North proved detrimental to the Southerners who depended greatly on imports. Added to this, the rise of the Republican Party and the election of Abraham Lincoln as the President of the US seemed to herald the end of slavery itself.
On December 20, 1860, South Carolina became the first state to secede from the Union and was soon followed by other states of the Deep South – Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas. On February 8, 1861, these Southern states joined together to form the Confederate States of America. A provisional government was formed at Montgomery, Alabama. In April 1861 hostilities broke out in Fort Sumter and escalated into a full-fledged Civil War. Soon after, four states of the Upper South – Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina – also seceded from the Union and joined the Confederacy. Within a year, a permanent government was set up at Richmond, Virginia, and the Confederacy had issued its own stamps. The Stars and Bars flag came to represent this newly formed nation. Despite its attempts, the Confederacy was not recognized by any foreign government as an independent country. Britain and France did, however, conduct a healthy trade of arms, ammunition, and supplies with the “belligerent” Confederate States of America.
The American Civil War lasted a good 4 years and despite early victories it cost the Southern States many thousands of lives and about $ 5 billion. The Confederate Armies led by General Robert E. Lee and General Joseph E. Johnston surrendered completely between April and June 1865, liberating the slaves in these states and making way for Reconstruction – the process of reintegrating the South with the Union again.