Talk:American Civil War

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Former good article American Civil War was one of the Warfare good articles, but it has been removed from the list. There are suggestions below for improving the article to meet the good article criteria. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
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Semi-protected edit request on 16 October 2014[edit]

the south was primarily fighting for freedom of states the major issue was not slavery (talk) 17:41, 16 October 2014 (UTC)

Nope. This is a factual article; that assertion is contrary to the long-established historical consensus. The phrase "freedom of states", in addition to being non-grammatical, is arrant neo-Confederate nonsense. --Orange Mike | Talk 17:45, 16 October 2014 (UTC)
Those states purporting to secede into independence immediately reconstituted a confederation, just as planned by the Fire-Eaters. Recommended reading on the two uses of "freedom": James McPherson's "Battle Cry of Freedom". -- TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 20:01, 16 October 2014 (UTC)

Is a secessionary civil war really a civil war?[edit]

Under whose definition of "civil war" is the conflict of 1861-65 considered a civil war, considering that the southern states did not want to change the national government but to leave it? And how does this change the naming conventions of the article? - (talk) 00:07, 5 November 2014 (UTC)

It doesn't. The naming convention of the article follows common name policy.
 — Berean Hunter (talk) 02:14, 5 November 2014 (UTC)
Considering that a substantial portion of the war was fought in states/sections whose majority opposed secession, it was definitely a civil war for them. Tens of thousands were fighting to retain their national identity against tens of thousands in the same state. See Missouri, Kentucky, West Virginia, and East Tennessee for example. Plus there is that little problem of the Confederacy having its sights set on U.S. territories (New Mexico, Arizona, Indian Nations, Colorado and even California.)
Another problem with the "secessionary war" argument is that "Southern rights" advocates had for the previous three decades done every thing they could to alter the United States govt. into the form of national govt. they wanted. When that finally failed, they attempted to achieve the same by withdrawing and adopting a slightly modified constitution that included these new Southern rights. In essence they were fighting over control of the govt. which they had lost in the national election. And the irony is the actual shooting started with an attack by the states on a piece of real estate that had been built by and deeded to the Federal govt. The "peaceful coexistence" narrative of secession really doesn't fit with the public statements of the time, or the expansionist nature of Southern slavery--the very factor that fueled the dispute and led to war. The Union states appear to have seen this war as a fight for survival against an aggressive and hostile section. As Lincoln summarized, "Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure." Red Harvest (talk) 07:17, 5 November 2014 (UTC)
And this page isn't a forum to discuss this issue. There isn't a chance in hell we are going to change the title of the article. Dougweller (talk) 09:33, 5 November 2014 (UTC)
Agreed, but that doesn't seem to stop people from coming in to propose doing just that. Best to give the weak argument the smack down it deserves. Red Harvest (talk) 10:13, 5 November 2014 (UTC)
Definition? See for example, scholars cited in civil war. Alanscottwalker (talk) 11:56, 5 November 2014 (UTC)

hola — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:42, 6 November 2014 (UTC)

I agree with Beran Hunter. Beyond that, there are many civil wars that are never named as such, like the Malayan Emergency. The English and Russian civil wars both had attempted secessions due to a regime change. Although there was no conflict between pro- and anti-slavery northerners, you can bet that the civil war would have likely never happened if a Democrat had won the election.2601:D:6900:731:5AF:2D9B:EE18:8307 (talk) 18:41, 8 November 2014 (UTC)
Debating the name here is not helpful to anyone. We must follow the WP:RS's WP:COMMONNAME; our opinions, right or wrong, do not matter. --A D Monroe III (talk) 19:48, 8 November 2014 (UTC)

Conflicting death totals in opening section[edit]

it reads "It remains the deadliest war in American history, resulting in the deaths of an estimated 750,000 soldiers and an undetermined number of civilian casualties.[N 2] One estimate of the death toll is that ten percent of all Northern males 20–45 years old, and 30 percent of all Southern white males aged 18–40 perished.[10] From 1861 to 1865 about 620,000 soldiers lost their lives - So it is 750k or 620k?

Good question. The problem is that nobody knows: these are all estimates and really represent a range or more accurately, ranges. The reference for the note on the 750k number actually says that Hacker's census based analysis says "the most probable number of deaths attributable to the Civil War is 752,000, although the upper bounds of his data set point to as many as 851,000 deaths." The paragraph could use some clean up to reflect that. I don't think Hacker's numbers distinguish between males of military age who remained civilians vs. soldiers...or the gray areas of emergency militia, home guard, guerrillas, and people not officially in either army but killed or executed for various reasons.
The Union losses are relatively well documented although some are missing: particularly in home guard actions and such. (The first husband of one of my ancestor was apparently executed under this sort of circumstance, with no official record, so nothing can be verified about whether he was or was not with militia on either side or simply a neutral civilian.) But it is apples-to-oranges when comparing Union to Confederate since Confederate record keeping and reporting is/was problematic. There were a lot of Confederate records lost and/or destroyed. Some state records were hidden for decades after the war. But even had all the records survived there are many that would not have been reported. This was particularly true of recruiting/guerrilla/"partisan" commands that were broken up before being formally registered. For that reason there are several whole battles in Missouri where the Confederate roster and losses are largely unknown. In these instances there are some unofficial estimates, and some names of known dead. Researchers keep adding to the names and totals. Besides those who died of sickness, accident, or wounds while in service there are also those who died during the time frame while on furlough or being discharged because of wounds or chronic illness.
McPherson notes some of what I outlined above, but I don't think he appreciates the impact it had on early war figures in border areas. His commentary on Hacker includes: "I became increasingly aware that the standard estimate of 258,000 Confederate war dead was a significant undercount. Many Confederate records were lost or incomplete, especially for the last—and bloodiest—year of the war. The number of disease-related deaths of Confederate soldiers was clearly underreported. There were no reported Confederate noncombat deaths from 'miscellaneous' causes—accidents, drownings, causes not stated, et cetera—compared with nearly twenty-five thousand such deaths recorded for Union armies." Red Harvest (talk) 23:32, 21 November 2014 (UTC)

Broken link reference[edit]

I'm moving this link to talk page because it is broken. It came from the section "States align".

<ref>[ Declaration of Causes of Secession]. Retrieved 2012-11-28.</ref>
Sparkie82 (tc) 20:19, 7 December 2014 (UTC)


I would like to request a revision as well to statements such as "The war had its origin in the fractious issue of slavery". The war itself being started as the "Union" wanted a strong federal government, while the "Confederates" wanted a more state run government tied loosely together in a confederation, as the United States was before the Constitution replaced the Articles of Confederation. I firmly believe just because you can site a source it doesn't necessarily mean the source is correct, and that generally history is written by the victor through their eyes. I believe if I wanted the generally accepted history I would dig out my high school history book Zhoffman0308 (talk) 15:03, 14 December 2014 (UTC)zhoffman

This is discussed and explained quite well in the FAQ at the top of this page. Here on Wikipedia we not only look at sources, but we also look at the preponderance of sources, which in this case doesn't agree with User:Zhoffman0308's assessment. Based on my reading of many sources, it is unmistakably true that one of the major effects of the war was to strengthen the U.S. federal government. It is likewise true that before and during the war many Confederates wanted a central government much more akin to the Articles of Confederation. It could be reasonably argued (and many sources do) that the more decentralized form of government didn't serve the wartime CSA as effectively as the Union's tighter federal system seemed to do during the conflict. However (again based on the preponderance of sourcing available to wikpedians), during the secession winter of 1861, southern states were attempting to withdraw from the Union because they were concerned that the newly elected president from Illinois was going to prevent the spread of, and eventually end the practice of, slavery in the U.S. BusterD (talk) 17:00, 14 December 2014 (UTC)
This is already covered in the article with the quote of McPherson: "While one or more of these interpretations remain popular among the Sons of Confederate Veterans and other Southern heritage groups, few professional historians now subscribe to them. Of all these interpretations, the states'-rights argument is perhaps the weakest. It fails to ask the question, states' rights for what purpose? States' rights, or sovereignty, was always more a means than an end, an instrument to achieve a certain goal more than a principle." The efforts by Southern interests to weaken the Federal govt. were all centered on protection of slavery. Historians have also noted that Southerners were very selective in their interpretation of states' rights, having no problem in restricting the rights of other states in the defense of slavery (see Fugitive Slave laws.) The "history is written by the victor" line ignores the prolific rendition of revisionist Southern history known as the Lost Cause. Red Harvest (talk) 17:07, 14 December 2014 (UTC)
Agree with BusterD and Red Harvest. And Emory Thomas argues in “The Confederate Nation: 1861-1865”, that to achieve independence for a slavery-based republic, Southerners gave up states rights to allow Jefferson Davis more centralized control during the war (over imports, exports, planting and manufacturing) --- than was acceptable to them either before the war or after it. Even so, some scholars claim the Confederacy "died of States Rights" because of jealously guarded state militia units restricted to in-state service. TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 18:57, 14 December 2014 (UTC)
So because of people like you I will no longer use Wikipedia as a credible source. All of these things are true, but in the article it sounds as if the entire war was about slavery, and this is common knowledge. I don't come here for knowledge. I can get in the discount book section of a thrift store. I would be content to have both sides in the article, but the unrelenting bias of Wikipedia authors ruin the credibility of it. I feel like when I research stuff on Wikipedia I shouldn't feel as if I am reading peoples opinions. I just am saying shouldn't both sides be in it?
ps. I believe slavery to be an abomination, and despicable, but feel as if the greater meaning of the most impactful war in American history is being overshadowed. If I have to, would you like me to dig up my own reference for these statements? I understand I am probably talking to a brick wall though. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Zhoffman0308 (talkcontribs) 19:38, 14 December 2014 (UTC)
If you read the article you will find that the other aspects are discussed: see the sections on states' rights, sectionalism, and protectionism. The problem isn't with the article's rendering, the problem is your proposal that it should be written to support what you (or any other editor) "believe" vs. what the mainstream consensus historians have reached. That's not the way encyclopedias work. Red Harvest (talk) 16:21, 15 December 2014 (UTC)

Civil War defined[edit]

Why is the Civil War called the Civil War? The article does not explain this...does "civil" stand for civilian ? There really was nothing "civil" about the battles especially many having high casualties Shiloh...Gettysburg...The Wilderness...Should the term "civil war" be explained or defined in the article? Cmguy777 (talk) 16:33, 16 December 2014 (UTC)

”Civil War” does not mean civility, it rather relates to civilians. Merriam Webster would have Civil War defined as "a war between opposing groups of citizens of the same country." [1].
The American Heritage New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy (2005) defines Civil War in U.S. history, "refers to the war fought in the United States between northern (Union) and southern (Confederate) states from 1861 to 1865, in which the Confederacy sought to establish itself as a separate nation" [2]. TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 17:43, 16 December 2014 (UTC)
Thanks TheVirginiaHistorian...I believe that definition needs to be placed in the article...the war was really between two armies the Confederate and Union armies...I think more acurate description is the Union-Confederate War rather then Civil War... Cmguy777 (talk) 22:26, 16 December 2014 (UTC)
Proposed sentence:
The American Civil War was an ultimate struggle that determined the United States survival as a nation fought between the respected Union and Confederate armies and navies. Cmguy777 (talk) 02:36, 17 December 2014 (UTC)
That seems rather POV for an encyclopedia article. — (talk) 07:50, 17 December 2014 (UTC)
I agree. It has some debatable adjectives and really doesn't add anything. Additionally, there is an implication of sterility of combat between two militaries. In reality it was fought on a much more personal level for citizens and involved much greater citizen support and sacrifice (particularly in the border states and eventually the Upper South and some of the Deep South) than a war on some far-away or neutral soil. Red Harvest (talk) 10:42, 17 December 2014 (UTC)
It’s called the Civil War because it was a civil war, or a war between opposing factions in the same country (which is the meaning of “civil” here). — (talk) 07:50, 17 December 2014 (UTC)

POV for an article...This statement is sourced by an encyclopedia in the Overview American Civil War: The Definitive Encyclopedia and Document Collection (2013) lix edited by Spencer C. Tucker ...Also these were not one town against another town these were two armies and navies battling it out for the destiny of the United States. The reader in my opinion is left with an unanswered question for the definition of Civil War... Tucker is an established historian. I would not call his work POV... Cmguy777 (talk) 21:24, 17 December 2014 (UTC)

I think both of us were questioning the wording, but I could be mistaken about the other person's objection. Did Spencer really use "was an ultimate struggle" (which is kind of strange phrasing open to multiple interpretations) and "respected Union and Confederate armies and navies." Respected? By whom and for what are the typical tags that result when stated this way without explanation. Did you mean "respective"?
I'm not really sure where you are going with this. To explore the matter you would need a whole paragraph explaining the definition used for a civil war (which is itself not fully agreed upon) then a discussion of what makes this qualify. Instead the approach taken by the article is that it is the most common name, and others are available in the "sectional names" Wikilink (to Names of the American Civil War) in the introduction. Red Harvest (talk) 05:00, 18 December 2014 (UTC)
It was not simply “two armies and navies.” These words imply a certain amount of official organization which was often missing, and it was not uncommon for these opposing militias to have family members on either side. Also, everything Red Harvest said. The article makes the reasonable assumption that the reader understands the meaning of the term civil war, and the first use of the term (rather than the name of this war) is linked to a page with a definition:
Lincoln's inaugural address declared his administration would not initiate civil war. (talk) 05:46, 18 December 2014 (UTC)
My whole idea was to define the Civil War with an updated source. I don't believe there is any need to have a whole is Spencer's exact wording...
"The American Civil War was a struggle to determine whether the United States would survive as a nation and if so what sort of nation would it be."
I believe some or part of this sentence needs to be incorporated into the first sentence of this article...I put in "ultimate" since casualties were involved in many battles fought... Cmguy777 (talk) 05:56, 18 December 2014 (UTC)
While the quoted introductory statement is accurate, it’s not a definition by any means, and was not intended to be. Also, that is not the meaning of “ultimate,” and casualties are involved as a general rule of battle and war. — (talk) 07:03, 18 December 2014 (UTC)

Alternative proposal[edit]

The American Civil War, commonly referred to as the Civil War, was as a struggle between the Union and Confederate forces that ultimately determined the survival and future of the United States. Cmguy777 (talk) 06:25, 18 December 2014 (UTC)

Isn’t much of this true of many wars and other events? I think a simple definition of civil war would be better, something like:

The American Civil War, widely known in the United States as simply the Civil War as well as other sectional names, was a war between opposing factions of the nation fought from 1861 to 1865

Probably not the best wording, but something along those lines would benefit those unaware of what the name even means. — (talk) 06:40, 18 December 2014 (UTC)

A combination of Cmguy777 and IP.82 might be, Alternative C:
The American Civil War, widely known in the United States as simply the Civil War as well as other sectional names, was fought from 1861 to 1865 between opposing factions of the nation to determine the survival of the Union.TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 09:16, 18 December 2014 (UTC)

Thanks for the additions ! I think we are getting more in line with Spencer source... Here my revised version:

The American Civil War, widely known in the United States as simply the Civil War as well as other sectional names, was a war fought from 1861 to 1865 between opposing factions to determine the survival and future of the United States as a nation. Cmguy777 (talk) 16:34, 18 December 2014 (UTC)
I don’t think the “survival/future of the US” bit belongs in the first sentence, personally. It still sounds a bit hyperbolic to me. (And it has nothing to do with the question of why it’s named the Civil War.) But I won’t press it if no one else feels the same. =) — (talk) 18:14, 18 December 2014 (UTC)
The issue of the American Civil War really was important, but the last proposal still sounds somehow grandiose, overwrought. But just by a little — Was the future of the U.S. “determined” forevermore? No, it was only determined that it would have a future together. I suppose I object to “and future” the most, -- otherwise I think Cmguy's last is serviceable. TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 19:30, 18 December 2014 (UTC)

I can remove the word future...that would be a great compromise ! Cmguy777 (talk) 20:01, 18 December 2014 (UTC)

Modified proposal:
The American Civil War, widely known in the United States as simply the Civil War as well as other sectional names, was a war fought from 1861 to 1865 between opposing factions to determine the survival of the United States as a nation. Cmguy777 (talk)
Without any further objection, I would say we should try it. it conveys a sense of urgency. TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 05:54, 19 December 2014 (UTC)
Factions sounds awkward as I've never heard it in context of the American Civil War. -- Calidum 06:00, 19 December 2014 (UTC)
What about "governments" in place of "factions"...the Confederacy had a Constitution and representative bodies...although unrecognized by the United States Congress nor President Lincoln...yet the Confederacy was enemy territory... Cmguy777 (talk) 06:33, 19 December 2014 (UTC)
I think the term "survival" address the why issue since the two governments were battling for supremacy and victory... Cmguy777 (talk) 06:35, 19 December 2014 (UTC)
Upon further thought, I agree with TheVirginiaHistorian’s “survival of the Union.” That’s what the Civil War was fought over: whether the Union, binding the North and South together, would survive. The “United” part of the United States. (If the North won, unity would stand; if the South won, it would not.) @Calidum: I did say it probably wasn’t the best wording (and after looking up the word, it’s clearly not). I don’t think “governments” fits either—the term means a war fought between citizens, not governments. “Opposing sides”? “Opposing forces”? — (talk) 08:13, 19 December 2014 (UTC)
How about "opposing sectional forces"...Union versus Confederacy ? Cmguy777 (talk) 10:47, 19 December 2014 (UTC)
The American Civil War, widely known in the United States as simply the Civil War as well as other sectional names, was a war fought from 1861 to 1865 between opposing sectional forces to determine the survival of the United States as a nation. Cmguy777 (talk) 10:47, 19 December 2014 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── That there were two sides is understood, we can omit “between two [opposing factions] [opposing governments]”. We are agreed the war was over survival, then the question is the object of the contest best rendered as “the Union” or “the United States as a nation”. We already refer to the United States earlier in the sentence, we might choose a variation just as a matter of style, and to give a nod to the importance of Union as the primary motivator for the North. On the other hand, the primary motivation for the South was independence for the Confederacy. That leads me to this proposal to try to define the sides in the same sentence:

The American Civil War, widely known in the United States as simply the Civil War as well as other sectional names, was a war fought from 1861 to 1865 to determine the survival of the Union or independence for the Confederacy.’’ TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 10:53, 19 December 2014 (UTC)

I like this wording. -- Calidum 13:28, 19 December 2014 (UTC)
Yes. I can accept this wording...survival is the key word...and this gives the reader a definition...also this identifies the sectional forces Union versus Confederacy... Cmguy777 (talk) 16:58, 19 December 2014 (UTC)
I made the edit...I modified the last part of the sentence from "the Union or independence for the Confederacy" to "the survival of the United States as a nation"...I did this because the Union and Confederate States of America are linked in the following sentences... Cmguy777 (talk) 05:01, 20 December 2014 (UTC)
I much prefer TVH’s version. It doesn’t make sense to use “determine” this way if you don’t give both options, and you removed the mention of what the other side was fighting for. Come to think of it, that’s what really bugged me about some of the previous proposals, that odd usage of “determine.” Spencer said the war “determined whether” the US would survive as a nation. Taking that word out of context like this makes it a little nonsensical. You can determine whether event A or B happens; you can determine whether or not a thing happens; but you cannot determine a thing happening. — (talk) 08:01, 20 December 2014 (UTC)
@TheVirginiaHistorian: The point was that the two sides were part of the same nation, hence Civil War. That subtle definition is missing in the current opening sentence. — (talk) 07:36, 20 December 2014 (UTC)

Poll on alternatives[edit]

In a way, we have two options, with three lining up for A during discussion and Cmguy boldly editing B. Modifying A slightly,
A. The American Civil War, widely known in the United States as simply the Civil War as well as other sectional names, was a war fought from 1861 to 1865 to determine the survival of the Union or Confederacy independence.
B. The American Civil War, widely known in the United States as simply the Civil War as well as other sectional names, was a war fought from 1861 to 1865 to determine the survival of the United States as a nation.
I see Cmguy’s stylistic point, the Confederacy is addressed in the following two sentences immediately following. "Determine whether" survival [or extinction] is probably understood, but of course there would have been a remnant US were there Confederate independence.
On the other hand, I had meant to balance the primary motives of both in the first sentence, then the next three sentences define “Confederacy” and “Union”. The shorter “Union” fourth sentence can be moved to second place to follow the order of “Union” and “Confederacy” in the opening sentence.
@Calidum,, Cmguy777:Could we have a poll for a preference between A. or B.? TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 09:35, 20 December 2014 (UTC)
A. TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 09:35, 20 December 2014 (UTC)
B. Spencer uses the name United States, however, one would have to add context on the Union and Confederacy prior to any potential mention... Cmguy777 (talk) 09:52, 20 December 2014 (UTC)
The original A (survival of the Union or independence of the Confederacy) has a stronger parallel, and its loss makes a misreading possible (survival of Union [independence, or survival of] Confederacy independence), so my vote is for the earlier A… though I still disagree with the use of “determine” in this construction. How about “over” or “about” or “for” instead of “to determine”? — (talk) 11:08, 20 December 2014 (UTC)
A because I prefer that we introduce both sides in the lead sentence. -- Calidum 17:22, 20 December 2014 (UTC)

Done. Original A is posted as a trial. The American Civil War, widely known in the United States as simply the Civil War as well as other sectional names, was a war fought from 1861 to 1865 to determine the survival of the Union or independence for the Confederacy. TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 18:49, 20 December 2014 (UTC)

The United States divided into the Union and the Confederacy...since the Union won and in 1871 under President Ulysses S. Grant all former Confederate states were brought back into the United States Reconstructed...With a Union victory...the Union ceased to exist and the United States began again...the Union of America does not exist today, rather, the United States of America...more clarification is the Union and Confederacy are mentioned prior to their definitions... Cmguy777 (talk) 05:44, 21 December 2014 (UTC)
In other words...the Union did not survive the war, rather ended, and the United States became United again... Cmguy777 (talk) 05:46, 21 December 2014 (UTC)
The Union and the United States are one and the same, I thought. — (talk) 08:00, 21 December 2014 (UTC)
They are. The Union is perpetual, it never divided; secession is illegal, the question is settled by the American Civil War. There was a rebellion for Confederate independence, never internationally recognized; it was put down. Under Grant, states resumed representation in Congress after rebellion when Congress decided it was time. TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 08:18, 21 December 2014 (UTC)

@ TheVirginiaHistorian Spencer C. Tucker (2013) American Civil War: The Definitive Encyclopedia and Document Collection states "The American Civil War was a struggle to determine whether the United States would survive as a nation and if so what sort of nation would it be." There is no mention of survival of the Union, rather the United States...if the Confederacy won independence then the United States would not exist anymore...The Union won and the United States continues...The Union was the Northern States for the most part while the Confederacy was the Southern States for the most part..The United States is all the states... Cmguy777 (talk) 13:32, 21 December 2014 (UTC)

The Union encompasses the entire nation as conceived at the time, see Gary Gallagher’s “The Union War” p.1,6. “The loyal American citizenry fought a war for Union that also killed slavery…Union always remained the paramount goal…” Loyal citizens “routinely deployed ‘United States’, ‘the Union,’ ‘the country’, and ‘the nation’ as synonyms.”
While we are to be sourced, it is not important to directly quote entire phrases from Tucker to convey his meaning. wp:plagiarism notes, "In addition to an inline citation, in-text attribution is usually required when quoting or closely paraphrasing source material.” That encumbrance is not appropriate for the first sentence of an introduction. Union is synonymous with United States for the paraphrase here. TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 14:12, 21 December 2014 (UTC)
The Union, Confederacy, and the Unites States are three seperate governments or countries and three different articles...It is not wp:plagiarism to state the words "United States" in the article since this is a noun, not an state that Tucker (2013) actually meant the Union or Confederacy is going beyond what the source is stating in my opinion... Cmguy777 (talk) 18:29, 21 December 2014 (UTC)
The government of the Union in war time was the government of the United States. They did not form a new, separate government. You’re drawing a distinction that isn’t there. If you disagree, please share a quote from that Civil War encyclopedia or some other reliable source that unambiguously states what you claim, so that we can add this rather important distinction to the article. — (talk) 19:27, 21 December 2014 (UTC)
The United States and the Union are not separate governments; places disrupted by rebellion lost representation in Congress, but they were ultimately restored by U.S. Government force of arms as the rebellion was put down to the satisfaction of Congress.
The American Heritage Dictionary has terms United States and Union used interchangeably as synonyms: "the Union, the United States: The Union defeated the Confederacy in 1865" [3]. The first sentence uses the term United States previously, it would be an awkward construction to repeat it.
While Merriam-Webster has "Union - capitalized  : the federal union of states during the period of the American Civil War" [4]. In this second sense, the Union is made parallel with the Confederacy in the phrasing to determine the survival of the Union or independence for the Confederacy. TheVirginiaHistorian — continues after insertion below
And in this sense, “Union” means “United States at this time.” — (talk) 21:04, 21 December 2014 (UTC)
@ Cmguy: Why would you not relent when there are three editors for using the phrase sourced with Gallagher and the American Heritage Dictionary — and your objection is met by balancing Union with Confederacy in the same opening sentence, with defining discussion immediately following? TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 20:06, 21 December 2014 (UTC)

Continued discussion I[edit]

First I am leaving your edit as is TheVirginiaHistorian...I gave Tucker source (2013) who does not use the terms Union or Confederacy, rather he uses United States...I felt I had to defend myself with the wp:plagiarism comment...Is Merriam Webster an authority on the Civil War...I don't want any edit wars...The United States was not united in the Civil War, but rather states succeeded from the United States that formed the Confederacy...the loyal states became the Union goverment...The Union government ended in 1871 when all reconstructed states were allowed representation in Congress under President Ulysses S. Grant...I know when I am out voted and I will abide by editor concensus... Cmguy777 (talk) 01:15, 22 December 2014 (UTC)
How about the rest of the encyclopedia/collection? Or the rest of Tucker’s overview? You only gave a single sentence, and it doesn’t seem to be freely available online. Does your source claim that the “Union government” ended or anything similar? Iff so, you may have a point, though I would be rather shocked if it made that distinction outside of a secessionist POV. — (talk) 01:25, 22 December 2014 (UTC)
But Cmguy does apply the term “loyal” to the Union, which I would like to use to edit the fourth sentence, and place it second.
Existing fourth sentence: The states that did not declare secession were known as the "Union" or the "North”.
Proposed second sentence: The states loyal to Congress were known as the “Union" or the “North”.
Union states were loyal to Congress which had certified the presidential election of Abraham Lincoln as constitutional before the Republican majorities were seated in the 37th Congress. TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 11:07, 22 December 2014 (UTC)
  • Support. Perhaps with a small addition? The states that remained loyal… (talk) 17:23, 22 December 2014 (UTC)
  • Support As far as the length of time for the Union that would be from 1861 to 1871...I don't have a source and the Union article does not give any specific date...However the former Confederate reconstructed states were not admitted to Congress until essense the Union was united becoming the United States again...the Union was the remnant of what the United States used to be...succession was officially over...although the Confederacy ended in 1865...All the Confederate States were reconstructed starting in 1868 allowing full civil rights to African American males...Tucker's Overview was found online... Cmguy777 (talk) 02:44, 23 December 2014 (UTC)
    @Cmguy777: I was able to find the overview on Google Books, and Tucker seems to use “Union” interchangeably with other terms for the nation. What I’m asking is whether anyone (other than yourself) has explicitly claimed that the Union government began or ended with the Civil War, or that the Union government was a different thing from the government of the United States, or anything along those lines. Because your comments on this Talk page are the first I’ve ever heard of this view, and if we know where it came from, we can investigate it further and possibly amend the article. Or if you came up with it on your own, you’re certainly entitled to your views, but it would be WP:original research and we wouldn’t be able to do anything with it here. Or if it was simply a misunderstanding of language, we should see if we can address that in the article. — (talk) 07:08, 23 December 2014 (UTC)
  • If more is need than a link to Union, than I would say: "remained loyal to the federal government" as opposed to those who sought to uphold the confederated government. Alanscottwalker (talk) 15:00, 24 December 2014 (UTC)
I did not come up with this idea on my own...Tucker states United States in the first sentence of his overview, not the Union...The four remaining states were admitted into the Union by 1870 under President Ullysses S. Grant (Brands 2012, p 465)...That would mean the Union became united again technically the United States. Succession was over...There is no limit on the date of the Union's existence...the article does not explain this...I don't see how the Union is synonomous with the United States when the Confederacy succeeded from the United States and withdrew from Congress... Cmguy777 (talk) 07:24, 23 December 2014 (UTC)
They wanted to secede from the United States. They wanted to secede from the Union.
Does this help? I’m pretty sure there is no difference between these two statements. The United States is a Union; it’s a country, a nation, formed by a union of many states, which is what makes these states united. The Union was not formed after southern states tried to secede from it, or else they’d have had nothing to secede from. It was just another word for the country those states were part of. Also, keep in mind that they never actually seceded—they were never allowed to.
If that doesn’t clear things up, I’m afraid I still don’t understand where you’re coming from on this. — (talk) 07:42, 23 December 2014 (UTC)
Cmguy: The four remaining states were admitted into the Union...That would mean the Union became united again technically the United States.
No, four remaining state delegations were reseated in the Congress, there is no act of re-admission for each as states, the seats are counted as "vacant" during the rebellion until Congress recognized elections to refill them. Technically, secession is illegal constitutionally, see Texas v. White, as is armed rebellion against the constitutionally appointed federal government --- which administers a national government over all the states in the Union by the supreme law of the land: the Constitution, Acts of Congress and treaties.
The Union was the same before, during and after the Civil War. H.W. Brands says in “The Man who saved the Union: Ulysses Grand in war and peace” Chapter 57, "the republican experiment would fail if the republic fell apart.” — it did not, the rebellion was suppressed. “Saving the Union during the war had been difficult but straightforward…Saving the Union after the war…would doubtless be more complicated." TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 10:53, 23 December 2014 (UTC)
The Reconstruction Act of 1867 nullified all previous Confederate state essense the former Confederate states had no state governments until new state constitutions were made...All states Reconstructed were forced to adopt the 14th Amendment put under military occupation...The Confederacy ended in 1865, but succession did not end until 1870, when all the Reconstructed states were brought back into the Union... Cmguy777 (talk) 16:39, 23 December 2014 (UTC)

In the Texas v. White the Court only addresses the legality of succession, not the reality of succession, the Confederate states did succeed from the Union... Cmguy777 (talk) 17:07, 23 December 2014 (UTC)

If someone sees something unbelievably stupid and wrong, he may say, “I don’t want to live on this planet anymore.” That doesn’t mean he’s no longer on Earth. A statement of intent does not necessarily make a thing happen. — (talk) 22:16, 23 December 2014 (UTC)
All Southern state civil acts relating to legitimate governance such as marriage or criminal justice were acknowledged as legitimate acts of state governance. Acts related to rebellion were disavowed, such as floating bonds to finance illegal activities or resolves of secession. The reality was an illegal rebellion physically blocked the implementation of Congressional law until it was put down. When lawful activity could resume, it did by Acts of Congress.
To enter the Union of the 1789 Constitution, it took two-thirds of the states of the previous Confederacy acting together as the people, then that Confederacy Congress dissolved itself. Although proposed by Southern Senators, no Constitutional Amendment allowing secession was passed by the people of the United States, and the U.S. Congress did not dissolve itself as did the Confederation Congress in the 1780s. No source says it did, rather it prosecuted a war to restore legitimate governance throughout the Union. TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 19:45, 23 December 2014 (UTC)

Continued discussion II[edit]

No one is arguing sucession was not illegal...there were no laws as far as I know that allowed British Colonists to rebel or have a revolution in 1776...Succession was a reality...the Confederacy was a very real country to Union soldiers who died on the battlefields at Vicksburg, Chattanooga, and Cold Harbor...this was a real war between two opposing forces...regardless of any ruling that took place almost exactly four years after the Civil War ended...were any southerners arrested for this illegal war...there may have been a few...but most of the Confederate soldiers were paroled...Texas v White had no effect on the outcome of the war...maybe we are getting off subject...I am not suggesting any changes to the article concerning United States, Union, and the Confederacy...I repeat I am for editor consensus on this matter... Cmguy777 (talk) 05:29, 24 December 2014 (UTC)
Secession (not succession) failed. The Confederate States were denied secession, and were universally denied recognition as a separate country. They fought to make their secession a reality, and failed. They tried to secede but did not succeed. As for editing the article, I think we should do our best to ensure readers aren’t confused about “Union” vs “United States” and about whether the southern states ever successfully seceded. — (talk) 06:10, 24 December 2014 (UTC)
I can read between the lines and can detect some unnecessary hostility towards my comments done in good faith...Tucker (2013) is the one who used the term United States in his first Overview sentence, not the Union...Last I checked the Confederate Army won a few battles, not all failures, and it took the Union five years to put down the Confederacy...The reality is the Union and Confederacy fought each other in real battles regardless of whether sucession failed... Cmguy777 (talk) 08:42, 24 December 2014 (UTC)
Well, it is probably that the discussion has gone on and on, past its usefulness. Tucker's sentence you point to does not say that the United States and the Union are completely different things. Look at it this way: there is a union called the United States, and no one can unilaterally secede from it - a civil war was fought and determined the union of the United States survived with no secession allowed. Alanscottwalker (talk) 14:42, 24 December 2014 (UTC)
I like the term union of the United States...In some respects I was only trying to be compliant with the three articles Confederacy, Union, and United States, all of these are seperate articles...on battle ground the Confederacy was a very real enemy for Union soldiers...for all practical purposes the Confederacy was a real although "illegal" and "unrecognized" nation probably for about three years...until Gettysburg and Grant's capture of Vicksburg that split the Confederacy in two parts... Cmguy777 (talk) 18:33, 24 December 2014 (UTC)
There was certainly a Confederate nationalism which admitted centralized policies not popular in the South either before or after the Civil War for the sake of the war effort. But, the Confederacy was not a real country to Union soldiers, they faced a rebellion had to be put down to preserve the perpetual Union; that’s what some wrote their loved ones the night before they died in battle. See Gary Gallagher (2011) The Union War and James McPherson (1988, 2003) Battle Cry of Freedom. For some years after the conflict, the American Civil War was known as The Great Rebellion in the north. TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 19:52, 24 December 2014 (UTC)

@Cmguy777: I bear you no hostility, and I have no doubt your comments were made in good faith. I do admit to being hostile toward any encyclopedia article that causes people to misunderstand the facts, which is why I’m suggesting editing the article to correct the misunderstandings you’ve brought to light: The Confederacy was its own nation only in the minds of Confederates—they certainly wanted to be independent of the US, to the point of killing and dying for it. But to the rest of the world, they were still part of the US, albeit a fiercely rebelling part, and that never changed. What other measure of “a real nation” is there?

As for the Union, that’s the WP:COMMONNAME used to refer to the United States during the Civil War. The opening line of that article explicitly says as much: “During the American Civil War, the Union was the term used to refer to the United States of America, …” (talk) 22:10, 24 December 2014 (UTC)

My only counter is that Confederate artillary and guns were very real to Union soldiers regardless to the semantics and legalities of sucession... Cmguy777 (talk) 02:02, 25 December 2014 (UTC)
I did say they fought over it. That is an indisputable fact. What is not an indisputable fact is that the Confederacy seceded and formed a new nation. — (talk) 04:16, 25 December 2014 (UTC)
Union soldiers charged rebel artillery and muskets to preserve the Union, not to conquer an alien province. The opposition was referred to as “rebels”, as in rebellion, a conspiracy to overthrow the legally constituted Government of the United States of 34 (KS), then 35 (WV), then 36 (NV) states before the end of the conflict. TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 11:38, 25 December 2014 (UTC)
Seems like we are talking about the American Civil War in terms of the legality of sucession...letters from Union soldiers prove otherwise...these Union soldiers were dying to end slavery that the Confederacy represented...and the Confederacy was a very real force or nation for about three years until split in two by Ulysses S. Grant at 1869 Court ruling on sucession ended the American Civil War...only hard fought battles that had thousands of casualties...we are going in circles and as has been mentioned before we are overtalking the situation...I have no more objections...the article is good as stands... Cmguy777 (talk) 17:38, 25 December 2014 (UTC)
Back to the question of who fought the war. Not just soldiers, but financiers, industrialists, factory hands, housewives, nurses, MD's, farmers, RR workers, diplomats and many others played major roles. Rjensen (talk) 15:06, 26 December 2014 (UTC)

How many states?[edit]

The first paragraph mentions the number of states that seceded. Shouldn’t it also mention the number that did not, or the total number of states? Because it wasn’t out of 50. — (talk) 07:47, 17 December 2014 (UTC)

We would count 34 including Kansas as of January 29, 1861. Propose the second sentence amended and the third sentence unchanged, read:
Alternate A. "Among the 34 states of the Union as of January 1861, seven Southern slave states declared their secession from the United States, and formed the Confederate States of America, known as the “Confederacy” or the “South”. They grew to include eleven states, and although they claimed thirteen states and additional western territories, the Confederacy was never recognized by a foreign country."
Alternate B. "Among the 33 states of the Union as of November 1860, seven Southern slave states declared their secession from the United States, and formed the Confederate States of America, known as the “Confederacy” or the “South”. They grew to include eleven states, and although they claimed thirteen states and additional western territories, the Confederacy was never recognized by a foreign country."
Favor Alternate A. Although South Carolina had a declaration of secession before Kansas entry, all twelve other declarations followed, and none were recognized internationally. The Confederacy was not established until after Kansas admission, and the American Civil War followed that. TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 09:31, 17 December 2014 (UTC)
Alternate A seems preferable. I'm not convinced that a change is even necessary, but the proposal is inclusive of information and matter-of-fact, rather than exclusive or open to POV complaints, so I have no problem with it. Red Harvest (talk) 10:31, 17 December 2014 (UTC)
Done. Among the 34 states as of January 1861, seven Southern slave states individually declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America, known as the "Confederacy" or the "South". --- TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 09:30, 18 December 2014 (UTC)

Cotton profits[edit]

Bruce Catton alludes that the Civil War was caused by slavery and the over one hundred million dollar profits from the cotton industry that was produced by slave labor...Catton (1960) The Civil War, page 8...Should this be incorporated into the article? Profits $191,000,000 on southern cotton exports rather then the tarrif seem to be why the South suceeded from the Union...slavery was essential to these profits... Cmguy777 (talk) 20:21, 26 December 2014 (UTC)

It is mentioned in Origins of the American Civil War: “They [the largest slaveholders] benefited from economies of scale and needed large numbers of slaves on big plantations to produce cotton, a highly profitable labor-intensive crop.” But no objections here. — (talk) 21:22, 26 December 2014 (UTC)
OK...I think this information would be good for the article...possibly adding to the lede...I can check to see if Catton (1960) is mentioned as a source...the South was a cotton empire and in essense that is why slavery caused the Civil War since slavery and cotton profits were dependent on each other. Cmguy777 (talk) 22:33, 26 December 2014 (UTC)
Agree. The economics of cotton was a primary reason why the secessionists believed they could make a slave-based republic into a going concern economically after independence from the United States. --- But, also, the narrative should not lose sight of the primary aspect of the "slave society" organization is grounded in the idea of racial superiority of whites over blacks. North (societies with slaves with abolitionists) and South (slavery-based societies without abolitionists), there was legislation discriminating against free blacks in non-cotton port-city enterprises, regardless of their citizen status. TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 13:24, 27 December 2014 (UTC)
Correct, there were two major facets: economic dependence on a single high margin cash crop and a race-based caste system often referred to in terms such as the "natural order" of things. The economic aspect had at least two major components: the enormous amount of capital invested in slaves, as well as the value of the cotton based agriculture (and some other lower margin ones like hemp, sugar, and tobacco.) Red Harvest (talk) 18:38, 27 December 2014 (UTC)
I added information from Catton (1960) on the cotton trade...mentioning the captital invested in slaves and the white superiority is important too...the white superiority caste system did not end with the Civil War...In terms of racism the North may have been just as racist as the South, possible exception would be Boston... Cmguy777 (talk) 23:59, 27 December 2014 (UTC)
The "just as racist as the South" part is a false equivalency in light of the history. While average Northerners of the period shared many of the same prejudices and did not want free blacks competing with their own free white labor pool, they notably rejected the enslavement of blacks as a normal part of their society (enslavement is a step far beyond considering someone inferior or denying them equal citizenship.) Average Northerners were unwilling to allow the expansion of slavery into the territories, while Southerners were willing to secede and go to war over the issue. Northerners, on average not supportive of outright abolition, eventually accepted it as a war aim. And on the whole Northerners were willing to grant Constitutional equality after the war. That equality under the law was effectively rolled back soon after in the South and beyond. There are different degrees of racism involved in period aggregate behavior, rather than simply racist/non-racist categorization. Red Harvest (talk) 08:55, 28 December 2014 (UTC)
Agree on balance with Red Harvest. There is a useful distinction in regards to degrees of racism between "slave-based societies" and "societies with slaves" even in the 1700s. TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 09:06, 28 December 2014 (UTC)
We already have a major article on King Cotton & the prewar issue belongs only in the causes article no here, in my opinion. The CSA GAVE UP all its cotton profits in early 1861 as it cut off cotton sales to Europe. During the war itself it had an entirely different meaning as the Union profited from cotton it seized and sold. Rjensen (talk) 11:34, 28 December 2014 (UTC)
Indeed while the British Empire increased cotton plantings in India and Egypt, the Union not only seized Southern cotton stockpiles, but it re-planted cotton by freedmen in plantations among areas opened by its coastal operations to be sold to the French. Meanwhile as Southern cotton fields were converted to subsistence level foodstuffs for Rebel armies, surplus grain production in the North exploded to amply feed the Union armies, and to supply Europe during crop failures there in the early 1860s. TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 13:55, 28 December 2014 (UTC)