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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Many of these questions arise frequently on the talk page concerning the American Civil War.
To view an explanation to the answer, click the [show] link to the right of the question.
Q1: Should slavery be presented as the most important cause of the war? (Yes.)
A1: Yes. Slavery was the most important cause of the war. Slaveholding states presented preservation of slavery as the central issue, in their own words. However, the US Congress did try to take slavery off the table at the last minute with the Crittenden Resolution, stating that the goal of the Northern States was not abolition of slavery, but preservation of the Union. Ironically, these positions were reversed later, especially with the rise of the Lost Cause interpretation.
There are other issues, such as the tariff issue, or states' rights which have been included in the article as well. Wikipedia requires that we rely on the best officially documented research available, without any original research. The best historians (McPherson, Nevins, Freehling and even the better Southern historians such as Potter) don't support Lost Cause interpretations of causes.
States' rights was a lesser issue. The original secessionists were not very careful in separating states' rights from the slavery issue. South Carolina's declaration of reasons for secession is one example out of many. However, Lost Cause historians did try to separate state's rights from slavery after the Confederate defeat.
The tariff was a lesser issue. The tariff issue was a much larger issue three decades before the war, and even then John Calhoun, who led South Carolina's attempt to nullify the Tariff of 1828, said that the tariff issue was related to slavery. In his March 6, 1860 speech at New Haven Lincoln said that the slavery issue was more important than the tariff or any other issue.
While northern states didn't allow equal civil rights for blacks, they were still much more antislavery than the South. Also, secessionists mentioned fears for the future of slavery many times in their declarations of reasons for secession, political speeches and editorials.
Both Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis said a great deal about controversy over slavery before the war. They downplayed the slavery issue when the war began because, as historian James Ford Rhodes explained, Lincoln needed to keep the loyalty of the border states, which were both pro-slavery and pro-Union, and Davis hoped to get support from Britain and France, where slavery was unpopular.
Q2: Did Lincoln propose to immediately abolish slavery in the South when elected? (No.)
A2: No. Lincoln combined moral opposition to slavery (calling it "a monstrous injustice") with a moderate, gradual program of action. Lincoln, like most Republicans, believed that compromises of the Constitution (a three-fifths clause, a 20 year extension of the African slave trade and a fugitive slave clause) implied Constitutional recognition of slavery where it existed. However, Lincoln would not compromise on preventing any expansion of slavery in the hope that this would put it "in the course of ultimate extinction."
Q3: Did Lincoln ever say that he had no plans to abolish slavery? (Yes.)
A3: Yes, he did say so during the early years of the war. However, the things Lincoln said in favor of equality were many, the things he said against it were few, and those few were combined with a great deal of political pressure. This is especially true with regard to Lincoln's letter to Greeley at a time when border state people and War Democrats might reject emancipation and the war if the issue wasn't explained in a way that they would accept. Also, Lincoln's sole justification for emancipation was military necessity. Lincoln was inconsistent on the equality issue during the Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858 partly in order to deflect the politically damaging charge (by 19th century standards) that he was a "Black Republican" abolitionist.
Q4: Should the article refer to Confederate states as slave states? (Yes.)
A4: Yes, because Confederates referred to their states as slave states, and because Confederate states had more slavery than the border states, and because slavery related concerns were by far the major complaint mentioned by secessionists.
As to whether issues of right and wrong were part of the controversy, Abraham Lincoln and Alexander Stephens had the following to say about this:
"You think slavery is right and should be extended; while we think slavery is wrong and ought to be restricted. That I suppose is the rub." - From Abraham Lincoln's letter to Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens, Dec 22, 1860
"We at the South do think African slavery, as it exists with us, both morally and politically right. This opinion is founded upon the inferiority of the black race. You, however, and perhaps a majority of the North, think it wrong." - From Stephens' reply to Lincoln, Dec 30, 1860
Q5: Did some slave states fight for the North? (Yes.)
A5: Yes, the five border states. These states had less slavery and more support for the Union than the Confederate slave states. They opposed emancipation at first, but largely accepted the military need for it eventually. Kentucky and Missouri had more slavery than the rest, and had loyalties that were more divided than the rest. For example, Missouri's Governor Claiborne Jackson was a southern sympathizer, but was prevented from seceding by Union Brigadier General Nathaniel Lyon. Missouri saw some of the worst guerrilla fighting of the entire war because of its divisions over slavery.
Q6: Should the title be American Civil War? (Yes.)
A6: Yes. The title "American Civil War" is used only because it is the most common international name for the war. It is used in order to be understood, regardless of whether it could be better. The title does ignore the South's point of view, and it ignores the fact that Central America and South America are also America, in a sense. The other names should be mentioned, but not in this article. They are mentioned in Naming the American Civil War. The main article links to this.
Q7: Did the South start the war? (Yes.)
A7: The South bombarded and seized Fort Sumter, a federal fort in South Carolina. Historians regard this as the incident in which the actual fighting began.
This talk page is automatically archived by MiszaBot I. Any threads with no replies in 2 months may be automatically moved. Sections without timestamps are not archived.
What is with the first sentence? "...was a civil war fought from 1861 to 1865 to determine the survival of the Union or independence for the Confederacy." The terms used aren't defined until much later in the lede, nor are they linked, and they only make sense in the context of the war itself. It also sounds very awkward and doesn't match the tone of the rest of the paragraph. This is not a good introductory sentence. 220.127.116.11 (talk) 21:47, 2 January 2016 (UTC)
the first sentence works for me. people reading the paragraph will make sense of it. Rjensen (talk) 21:51, 2 January 2016 (UTC)
It's tough to say everything in one sentence, unless it's way too long.Jimmuldrow (talk) 03:37, 6 January 2016 (UTC)
Agree. The existing first sentence is unsatisfactory in the use of "breakaway" POV. It reads, "The American Civil War was a civil war fought from 1861 to 1865, to determine the integrity of the United States of America as it defeated the bid for independence by the breakaway Confederate States of America."
To be more accurate so as to include the number eleven states, I copy edited the proposal to "The American Civil War was a civil war fought from 1861 to 1865 between the federal government for Union integrity and the secessionists in eleven Southern states known as the Confederate States of America." I hope that still serves our purpose. TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 09:50, 7 June 2016 (UTC)
Maybe if we drop the number of states, because it certainly can be said that seven state governments were captured by secessionists, it could be "The American Civil War was a civil war fought from 1861 to 1865 between the federal government for Union integrity and Southern states known as the Confederate States of America." TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 09:55, 7 June 2016 (UTC)
Seems a bit awkward, as if there was some entity called "the federal government for Union integrity". I'd suggest reworking the sentence, or maybe dropping "for Union integrity", and explain the motivations later, perhaps in a follow on sentence in the lead. I also think United States should be retained in the lead sentence. Maybe something like: "The American Civil War was a civil war fought from 1861 to 1865 between the United States federal government (the Union) and Southern states known as the Confederate States of America." Or perhaps reworked as: "The American Civil War was a civil war fought from 1861 to 1865 between Southern states known as the Confederate States of America, which were attempting to secede from the United States, and the U.S. federal government, which was attempting to preserve the Union." Mojoworker (talk) 16:30, 7 June 2016 (UTC)
I broke it into two sentences and the problem with breaking out the federal government is the northern states also participated. Alanscottwalker (talk) 17:09, 7 June 2016 (UTC)
Ahh. Sorry. I had an old version of the page up from earlier this morning when I started reading the comments, and I didn't realize you had already changed it. I think it reads well. Mojoworker (talk) 18:36, 7 June 2016 (UTC)
I have just modified one external link on American Civil War. Please take a moment to review my edit. If you have any questions, or need the bot to ignore the links, or the page altogether, please visit this simple FaQ for additional information. I made the following changes:
Couldn't the article contain some information about the states in the war,information such as the battles fought in the state,the secession,the regiments,etc.
In addition,it could contain the two templates of the states in the war to lead for the articles for more information. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 18.104.22.168 (talk) 03:57, 24 May 2016 (UTC)
I added in See also -- * "*state* in the American Civil War". Templates sounds more ambitious. TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 23:41, 17 August 2016 (UTC)
Forgive me my novice-ness, please; I will be short:
In the second paragraph, regarding this sentence:
> Four years of intense combat left 620,000 to 750,000 soldiers dead, a higher number than the
> American casualties of World War I and World War II combined
If you were to replace the word "casualties" with deaths, this sentence will agree with the data on , because casualties include the wounded, which wound send the number well over 1,250,000 for both world wars combined.
The Confederacy was never diplomatically recognized by any foreign country.
Total BS. France was buying cotton from them like it was going out of style. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 22.214.171.124 (talk) 11:30, 27 September 2016 (UTC)
Trade is not the same thing as formal diplomatic recognition. Just ask Taiwan. -Ben (talk) 17:43, 27 September 2016 (UTC)
It is not true that French businessmen were buying lots of cotton from the Confederacy. The Southerners themselves imposed export embargo and early 1861, and by the time it was lifted the US naval blockade shut down 90+ percent of cotton exports. French businessman purchased more cotton from the United States than from the Confederacy. In any case, the French government bought zero cotton and the French government did not recognize the Confederacy. Rjensen (talk) 20:37, 27 September 2016 (UTC)