Presidential election results map. Green denotes states won by Davis/Stephens. Numbers indicate the number of electoral votes allotted to each state.
The 1861 Confederate States presidential election of November 6, 1861, was the only presidential election held under the Permanent Constitution of the Confederate States of America. Jefferson Davis, who had been elected president and Alexander H. Stephens, who had been elected vice president, under the Provisional Constitution, were elected to six-year terms that would have lasted from February 22, 1862 until February 22, 1868. However, the terms expired on May 5, 1865 instead when the Confederate government dissolved, with Davis and Stephens both leaving office without successors.
On February 9, 1861, Jefferson Davis was elected Provisional President and Alexander H. Stephens was elected Provisional Vice President. Stephens took office on February 11 and Davis took office on February 18, 1861. On March 11, 1861, a permanent Constitution was adopted.
Article II Section 1(1) reads: "The executive power shall be vested in a President of the Confederate States of America. He and the Vice President shall hold their offices for the term of six years; but the President shall not be re-eligible."
Article II Section 1(7) of the Confederate Constitution provides citizenship to people "born in the United States prior to the 20th of December, 1860" and also requires candidates for the President of the Confederacy to have resided "within the limits of the Confederate States" for 14 years.
Article VII Section 1(2) includes instructions for electing permanent officials after the ratification of the Confederate Constitution:
When five states shall have ratified this Constitution, in the manner before specified, the Congress under the Provisional Constitution, shall prescribe the time for holding the election of President and Vice President; and, for the meeting of the Electoral College; and, for counting the votes, and inaugurating the President.
On May 21, 1861, the Congress of the Confederacy passed "An Act to put in operation the Government under the Permanent Constitution of the Confederate States of America". It includes the following provisions:
Section 1. ... And on [the first Wednesday in November, eighteen hundred and sixty-one] the several states shall elect or appoint Electors for President and Vice President of the Confederate States of America, according to said Constitution, and in the manner prescribed by the laws of the several States made for that purpose; and in states where no such laws may exist, according to the laws heretofore in force in such states for the election or appointment of Electors for President and Vice President of the United States.
Sec. 2. The Electors for President and Vice President shall meet in their respective states on the first Wednesday in December, eighteen hundred and sixty-one, and proceed to vote for President and Vice President, and make out lists, certify the same, and forward the same to the President of the Senate; all as directed by the said Constitution in that behalf.
Sec. 3. The members of the House of Representatives so elected, and the Senators who may be elected by the several states according to the provisions of said Constitution, shall assemble at the seat of government of the Confederate States, on the eighteenth day of February, eighteen hundred and sixty-two; ... and the President of the Senate shall, on the nineteenth day of February, eighteen hundred and sixty-two, open all the certificates; and the votes for President and Vice President shall then be counted, as directed by said Constitution.
Davis and Stephens ran without opposition.
The election effectively confirmed the decision that had been made by the Provisional Confederate Congress earlier in the year.
Davis remained President until May 5, 1865, when the Confederate government was officially dissolved.
|Presidential candidate||Party||Home state||Popular vote(a)||Electoral
|Count||Percentage||Vice-presidential candidate||Home state||Electoral vote(b)|
|Jefferson Finis Davis||Nonpartisan||Mississippi||47,057||96.98%||109||Alexander Hamilton Stephens||Georgia||109|
|Needed to win||55||55|
(a) Totals reflect the popular vote in North Carolina only.
(b) Missouri and Kentucky did not participate in this election. Missouri was admitted November 28, 1861, and Kentucky December 10, 1861.
The Confederate States Electoral College was the institution that elected the president (Jefferson Davis) and vice president (Alexander H. Stephens) for a six-year term without possibility of re-election for the president.
The president and vice president were not elected directly by the voters. Instead, they were elected by electors who were chosen by popular vote on a state-by-state basis, with the exception of South Carolina, where the electors were chosen by the state legislature. This system was established by the Constitution of the Confederate States, in emulation of the United States Constitution. Like the U.S. Constitution, the Confederate Constitution provided that each state would have a number of electors "equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress" (Article II, Section 1).
The Electoral College consisted of 109 electors. The electors (chosen in the November 6 elections) met in their respective states to cast their votes on December 4, 1861 (Confederate law mandated that electors meet on the first Wednesday in December). The Congress met in joint session on February 19, 1862 and certified the result. Davis and Stephens were inaugurated on February 22, 1862.
|Presidential election||Electoral College vote||Electoral vote tabulated
by a joint session of Congress
|November 6, 1861||December 4, 1861||February 19, 1862||February 22, 1862|
Journal of the Congress of the Confederate States of America, 1861-1865 [Volume 5], Journal of the House of Representatives of the First Congress of the Confederate States of America, Second Day--Wednesday, February 19, 1862, page 12 and page 13