In his April 1861 message to the Confederate Congress, Jefferson Davis announced that the Constitution, which sought to establish a permanent Confederate government, had been ratified by each of the Confederate states. He informed the members that his address was necessitated by Abraham Lincoln's declaration of war on the Confederacy on April 15 and the need to prepare for the defense of the newly formed country.
Davis then outlined the history of the United States, beginning with the American Revolution. He argued that the initial purpose of the union created between the states was corrupted:
An organization created by the States to secure the blessings of liberty and independence against foreign aggression, has been gradually perverted into a machine for their control in their domestic affairs.
State sovereignty was threatened. Slavery had been guaranteed by the United States Constitution. The North, which initially practiced slavery, began to gradually withdraw from the practice owing to practical considerations dictated by the nature of the climate and the soil, which was not conducive to agriculture. The South, where the conditions were different and the land was suitable for agriculture, continued to employ slave labor. Attempts at restrictions of slavery by the North were dictated by the desire to subordinate the slaveholding states. Those who were enslaved in the South benefited from the institution of slavery, argued Davis; they were instructed in religion and allegedly gained in civilization.
In response to infringements on the freedom of the states intended by the U.S. Constitution, the South began to organize to ensure the continuation of sovereignty and freedom in their common interest. Confederate commissioners proposed peace to the U.S. government and went to great lengths to try to promote peace in early April. The U.S. did not listen in good faith, having already secretly decided to reject all Confederate proposals two weeks earlier, and detained the Confederate commissioners so as to clandestinely prepare for war. The details of the incident at Fort Sumter might be examined more closely, but according to Davis, it was a story of provocation and sleight of hand on the part of the North. Davis's closing championed peace but not at the cost of Confederate freedom and independence, and he expressed a belief and hope in the victory of the Confederacy, which he characterized as fighting for a just and holy cause.