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*On this date in 1861, The Confederate States of America was formed. Commonly referred to as the Confederacy, they were an unrecognized republic in North America that existed from 1861 to 1865.
The Confederacy was originally formed by seven secessionist slave-holding states: South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas in the Lower Antebellum South region.
Their economy was heavily dependent upon agriculture, particularly cotton, and a plantation system that relied upon the labor of Black slaves. Convinced that white supremacy and the institution of slavery were threatened by the November 1860 election of Republican Abraham Lincoln to the U.S. presidency on a platform that opposed the expansion of slavery into the western territories, the Confederacy declared its secession in rebellion against the United States, with the loyal states becoming known as the Union during the ensuing American Civil War.
Confederate Vice President Alexander H. Stephens described its ideology as being centrally based "upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and normal condition". Before Lincoln took office in March, a new Confederate government was established in February 1861 which was considered illegal by the government of the United States. States volunteered militia units, and the new government hastened to form its own Confederate States Army from nothing practically overnight. After the American Civil War began in April, four slave states of the Upper South; Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina also seceded and joined the Confederacy.
The Confederacy later accepted Missouri and Kentucky as members, although neither officially declared secession nor were they ever largely controlled by Confederate forces; Confederate shadow governments attempted to control the two states but were later exiled from them. The government of the United States (the Union) rejected the claims of secession, considering it illegitimate. The war began on April 12, 1861, when the Confederates attacked Fort Sumter, a Union fort in the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina. No foreign government ever officially recognized the Confederacy as an independent country although Great Britain and France granted it belligerent status, which allowed Confederate agents to contract with private concerns for arms and other supplies.
In early 1865, after four years of heavy fighting which led to 620,000–850,000 military deaths all Confederate forces surrendered. The war lacked a formal end; nearly all Confederate forces had been forced into surrender or deliberately disbanded by the end of 1865, by which point the dwindling manpower and resources of the Confederacy faced overwhelming odds. Jefferson Davis, the President of the Confederate States of America for the duration of the Civil War, lamented that the Confederacy had "disappeared".