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Portrait of Jabez Lamar Monroe Curry, McClee’s Gallery of Photographic Portraits of the Senators, Representatives, and Delegates of the 35th Congress, 1859

Representative Jabez L.M. Curry of Alabama served in the 36th and 37th U.S. Congresses (1857–1861) before withdrawing to join the Confederacy. During the Civil War he served in the Confederate Congress and as a Confederate Calvary officer. After the war Curry had a career as an educator and served as U.S. Envoy and later Ambassador Extraordinary to Spain.

Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

Portrait of Jabez Lamar Monroe Curry, McClee’s Gallery of Photographic Portraits of the Senators, Representatives, and Delegates of the 35th Congress, 1859

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.