When the first six states seceded from the United States of America in February 1861, they had to whip up a constitution in a jiffy. So, they did what any reasonable, treasonous group would do — they plagiarized. The Constitution of the Confederate States of America is about as close to a ripoff of the US Constitution as there could ever be, with a few fundamental differences, of course.

The ties that bind

The Confederate Constitution was in effect from February 22, 1862, until the end of the war in 1865. The differences in the document outlined precisely the divisive priorities they held dear.

As far as slave-owning rights go, four different clauses detail the legality of slavery. The document effectively blocks any sort of anti-slavery law from ever being put into effect. In the Confederacy, nothing could be more unconstitutional than abolition. Another significant difference was that slaves were called “slaves.” In the US Constitution, a slave was referred to as a “person held to service or labor.”

Nothing says “I’m better than you” like corrected grammar

The Confederate Constitution wasn’t satisfied with just out-classing the US with better ideas. They had to sound good doing it. They swapped out the words “United States” for “Confederate States” wherever they had the chance. It would have been a heck of an oversight if they forgot to!

Eighteenth century English was so last century. The Confederate States of America’s grammar, capitalization, and spelling were all updated to 19th-century English.

To the states go the spoils

There were a few other minor differences in regards to legal content. Most had to do with empowering states with greater individual powers. States could agree to treaties with one another for the use of waterways. Each state had the right to individually tax ships.

That about sums up the innovative alterations made to the Constitution. The Confederate government didn’t have time to write one from scratch. They had a war to fight.