Congress, Secession, and the Confederacy
With the secession of eleven Southern states in 1860 and 1861, the House and Senate lost more than 85 members. Congress quickly acted to ensure that it could continue to fulfill its legislative responsibilities to the Union. One of the first issues members addressed was whether to recognize secession and withdrawal from Congress as legitimate under the Constitution, or simply to declare the Southern congressional seats vacant. Meanwhile, Southerners who departed drew on their experience in Congress to establish a government for the Confederacy.