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CONFEDERATION (Fr. confederation, Lat...

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Originally appearing in Volume V06, Page 901 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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CONFEDERATION (Fr. confederation, Lat. confoederatio, from foedus, a league, foederare, to form a league), primarily any league, or union of people, or bodies of people. The term in modern political use is generally confined to a permanent union of sovereign states, for certain common purposes, e.g. the German Confederation (Bund), established by the congress of Vienna in 1815, and the Confederation of the Rhine (Rheinbund), a league of certain German states under the protection of Napoleon (1806-1813). The alliance of the Great Powers by which Europe was governed after 1815 was sometimes, especially by the emperor Alexander I., called the " Confederation of Europe "; but this expressed rather a pious aspiration than the actual state of affairs. The distinction between Confederation and Federation (see FEDERAL GOVERNMENT), synonymous in their origin, has been developed in the political terminology of the United States. Up to 1789 these were a Confederation; then the word Federation, or Federal Republic, was introduced as implying closer union. This distinction was emphasized during the Civil War between North and South, the seceding states forming a Confederation (Confederate States of America) in opposition to the Federal Union. Confederation thus comes to mean a union of sovereign states in which the stress if laid on the sovereign independence of each constituent body (cf. the German Staatenbund); Federation implies a union of states in which the stress is laid on the supremacy of the common government (Ger. Bundesstaat). The distinction is, however, by no means universally observed. The variant " Confederacy," derived through the Anglo-French confederacie, and meaning generally a league or union, whether of states or individuals, was applied in America in the sense of Confederation to the seceding southern states (see above). In its political sense, however, confederacy has generally come to mean rather a temporary league of independent states for certain purposes. As applied to individuals, while " confederation " is used of certain open unions of people for political or other purposes (e.g. the Miners' Confederation), " confederacy " —from its obsolete legal sense of conspiracy—has come frequently to imply a secret bond, a combination for illicit purposes, or of persons whose identity is not disclosed.
End of Article: CONFEDERATION (Fr. confederation, Lat. confoederatio, from foedus, a league, foederare, to form a league)
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