Talk:Names of the American Civil War/Archive 1

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American Civil War vs. Civil War

Disambiguation of the name is usually appropriate and necessary in Wikipedia discussion of the American Civil War, due to Wikipedia's international audience. However, it needs to be clear in this article specifically that the popular name (as endorsed by NPS) is "the Civil War", not "the American Civil War." The vast majority of (A)CW discussion and study takes place within the United States, and Americans simply don't commonly include the word "American" in the name, similar to how Britons refer to the events of 1642-1651 as simply "the Civil War." --VT hawkeye 04:43, 9 May 2005 (UTC)

Surely U.S. Civil war is far more accurate than American Civil War? Markb 09:28, 14 December 2005 (UTC)

The use of the word "Southern partisans" is POV. I am a northerner, but still think that the term "Civil War" is inaccurate historically. Perhaps we can change it to something toned down? --RegBarc 16:44, 9 July 2005 (UTC)

Hm, for the article to say that all Southerners accepted the outcome immediately after the war shows a fundamental lack of understanding of the South. I'm changing that right now -- "all Southerners" didn't necessarily accept the result in 1966, much less 1866. Perhaps the term "War of Southern Independence" fell into disuse because Southerners recognized they failed, but there's a huge gap between recognizing the result and accepting it. As for your other point, this isn't really the place to debate whether the CW fits into the generic category of civil wars; it's most commonly called the Civil War, and an article about naming the conflict needs to reflect facts on the ground. VT hawkeye 04:50, 10 July 2005 (UTC)

Musick addition

Added it, forgot to log in, logged in, and added the notation for my credit. Sorry.... Ezratrumpet 04:53, 30 October 2005 (UTC)


This site says that "Shiloh" was the Southern name for the battle, while "Pittsburg Landing" was the Northern name. That's the way I've always heard it. --JW1805 23:48, 31 October 2005 (UTC)

The National Park Service refers to it as Shiloh and their algorithm names the battle using the term coined by the victor (which is why they say Manassas instead of Bull Run, somethng Wikipedia ought to fix one of these days). I also checked Grant's Memoirs and he says "Shiloh was the severest battle fought at the West during the war, ..." and it would be hard to dispute that as the Northern view. Since this is obviously in dispute, I will remove the line in question. "Pittsburg Landing" is seldom used by anyone anyway. Hal Jespersen 00:53, 1 November 2005 (UTC)

  • I'll see if I can find any additional references. If we can verify it (one way or the other), we can put it back. --JW1805 01:35, 1 November 2005 (UTC)

more entries

Let's try to agree on limiting more entries to the War name section to those for we have some historical or literary references to cite. OK? I mean I could add U.S. War III (1812 and Mexico were I and II) and say "many people say that", but we need a higher standard for inclusion in an encyclopedia article. I have encountered no historical references to the Revolution as the [First] War of Secession. Hal Jespersen 23:05, 9 December 2005 (UTC)

I agree. --JW1805 (Talk) 05:59, 10 December 2005 (UTC)


I removed the Copperheads sentence, but it was restored [1]. Just from reading the Copperheads article, it seems like it was more of a political party, or political movement, than a generic name for "Northerners who sympathized with the Southern cause". Any comments? --JW1805 (Talk) 06:01, 10 December 2005 (UTC)

  • I removed it again. Even if it were correct, it doesn't really have anything to do with the topic of this article. --JW1805 (Talk) 00:51, 11 December 2005 (UTC)

In fact, Copperhead was not a party, just a generic term. Check Goerge Templeton Strong's diaries, for instance, where he simply uses it as an epithet, the way one might use "traitor" or "radical." -- amherst5282

Copperheads were real enough--they were an important faction inside the Dem party--which they controlled in some states (Ohio, Indiana). Strong certainly disliked them, and they were a major Democratic faction in his New York City. Rjensen 06:18, 15 January 2006 (UTC)

Civil War "incorrect"?

I'm not sure about this edit, adding the sentence under the "Civil War" heading: "Technically, the term is incorrect, as a civil war involves two factions vying for control of a government. This was not the case, as the Southern States sought to separate themselves from the Federal Government, not take control of it." I think that's a bit pedantic. I don't believe "civil war" has such a specific meaning that you can call its usage here "incorrect". The OED defines civil war as "such as occur among fellow-citizens or within the limits of one community." --JW1805 (Talk) 15:40, 10 December 2005 (UTC)

Well, at that point, they weren't fellow citizens, and it wasn't exactly a community tiff either. I think it's worth pointing out historical mislabeling.
MSTCrow 18:15, 10 December 2005 (UTC)
From the Union point of view, which did not recognize the Confederacy, they were fellow citizens of the same country. This is actually explained in this article, see the "War Between the States" section. --JW1805 (Talk) 22:55, 10 December 2005 (UTC)

Here is what Wikipedia says about the meaning of Civil War:

A civil war is a war in which the competing parties are segments of the same country or empire. Civil war is usually a high intensity stage in an unresolved political struggle for national control of state power. As in any war, the conflict may be over other matters such as religion, ethnicity, or distribution of wealth. Some civil wars are also categorized as revolutions when major societal restructuring is a possible outcome of the conflict. An insurgency, whether successful or not, is likely to be classified as a civil war by some historians if, and only if, organised armies fight conventional battles. Other historians state the criteria for a civil war is that there must be prolonged violence between organized factions or defined regions of a country (conventionally fought or not).

Ultimately the distinction between a "civil war" and a "revolution" or other name is arbitrary, and determined by usage. The successful insurgency of the 1640s in England which led to the (temporary) overthrow of the monarchy became known as the English Civil War. The successful insurgency of the 1770s in British colonies in America, with organized armies fighting battles, came to be known as the American Revolution. In the United States, the term 'the civil war' almost always means the American Civil War, with other civil wars noted or inferred from context.

[emphasis added in second graf] So under this definition, the usage in this article is correct. Hal Jespersen 18:20, 10 December 2005 (UTC)

Yes, but if you use the first definition, it's incorrect. To use one or the other is cherrypicking. I suggest placing both contentions in the article.
MSTCrow 12:56, 11 December 2005 (UTC)

It's all one definition, but I see nothing in the first paragraph of it that contradicts the second. Hal Jespersen 17:22, 11 December 2005 (UTC)

The first paragraph states that competing parties are segments of the same country or empire for national control of state. Not only did the Southern States consider themselves not to be segments of the same country, they were not attempting to gain national control of the state, ie the US Federal government, but seeking to remove themselves from its control, leaving it in power over other States who voluntarily ceded to its authority. Ergo, by the very definition placed into evidence as an authoritative source by the pro-Civil War naming convention group, the US Civil War was not, by definition, an actual civil war.
MSTCrow 10:10, 13 December 2005 (UTC)

At the time neither USA nor CSA considered this a civil war. To the USA it was a rebellion and to the CSA a war for independence. HOWEVER< outside observers unanimously called it a civil war. It was by far the largest such in the 19th century and it set the norm for deciding what was or was not a civil war. By 1890 all American scholars agreed it was a civil war. AS for the dictionaries, they tell us how people use words. The dictionary makers are historians of words, but not of events. Rjensen 14:40, 13 December 2005 (UTC)

In 1863, an important guy in the USA used the term: see Gettysburg Address. Hal Jespersen 15:39, 13 December 2005 (UTC)
If historians use different meanings for words than are in the dictionary, they you end up with a complete collapse in meaning of historian's work, and end up with a giant null, that can be conviently interpeted in any way desirable. Simply because people call, or called, the war the Civil War doesn't necessarily make it true, anymore than people used to think that everything was coimprised of four elements made that true. The proper course of action to take in Wikipedia, which is related to a dictionary, I might add, is to make technical distinctions on the wording and meanings of events in order to better present an accurate picture of said events. Also, please make correct usage of indentation in talk replies.
MSTCrow 17:06, 13 December 2005 (UTC)
  • This whole article is about how different people called the conflict by different names. To pronounce in the article that Civil War is incorrect based on some narrow definition of the term is just ridiculous. --JW1805 (Talk) 17:28, 13 December 2005 (UTC)

The term you offered, in its entirety, defeated your own claims. Either the accepted definition of the term is too narrow for your liking, and didn't happen to include your definition, meaning your definition is therefore invalid, or it was broad enough to include both yours and my definition, and both are worthy of inclusion in the article. You cannot have it both ways. I did offer to include both definitions in the article in the spirit of compromise, but you've been unrelenting. Need I remind you that (at least in spirit) Wikipedia is an ecyclopedia of facts, not of cherry-picked opinion? If you cannot accept this, then I'll be forced to start going through the Wikipedia dispute resolution process.
MSTCrow 23:04, 13 December 2005 (UTC)
For anyone to say the term "civil war" is "incorrect" means that all historians, dictionaries, encyclopedias, newspapers, magazines, governments and textbooks are all wrong, which is very odd indeed. They all use "civil war" as the preferrred term. Does Wikipedia have some secret information that they are all wrong? Of course not. We just have one user who is pretty confused on the matter and should do a little more reading before announcing the rest of the world is mistaken. Rjensen 23:48, 13 December 2005 (UTC)

I've referred this issue to the Wikipedia RFC page.
Rjensen, if you look at the Wikipedia cited by Hal of the meaning of "Civil War," you'll see that you may be confused. If you're going to jump into a talk discussion, please read fully and completely all previous posts. Otherwise, it's just trolling. (Also, some history books, such as PIG's Guide to American History, do devote text to the "Civil War" misnomer. Strawman arguments are against Wikipedia policy.)
MSTCrow 20:22, 15 December 2005 (UTC)

By the way I have read the debate here and consider it amazingly stupid. No serious expert disputes the Civil War term; every dictionary and encyclopedia has it. Is there a serious history book that takes up the point: I challenge that. Name the book and pages please. Rjensen 20:31, 15 December 2005 (UTC)

I'm arriving at this discussion from RfC, and having read the above debate I have only two thoughts to weigh in. Firstly, the name of the article, per Wikipedia:Naming conventions, should be the common name for the conflict; this is pretty clearly "Civil War". Secondly, it's quite obvious that there exists some substantial debate over naming. Outside of this discussion I (a Northener) have heard several different names for the Civil War, most intended to lay the blame on a particular party, including "The War of Northern Aggression", "The War of Southern Rebellion", and "Lincoln's War". None of these are competitors for the most common name, but the fact that there exists such a debate is a very important and encyclopedic point, and is certainly worth detailing in the article (or even forking into another article and summarizing in this one if it's long enough). Declaring it to be a misnomer or not would be POV and also original research; making a declaration one way or another on a contentious topic is not the job of wikipedia. siafu 20:40, 15 December 2005 (UTC)

saifu, thank you for your input. I would like to take the opportunity to point out that the naming of the article is not in dispute, only that the technical information regarding the (mis)naming of the Civil War be included under the first sub-entry.
MSTCrow 00:20, 16 December 2005 (UTC)

To a non-American, this whole argument seems ridiculous and partisan. To the rest of the English speaking world, this conlict is the American Civil War. Within the US, I would expect "Civil War", much in the same way that to us Brits, Civil War means the English Civil War of the 17th Century. What is important is not the name of the conflict, but its causes, events and outcomes. The only reason I can see for all this controversy is the partisan views of one side or another with regard to their geography or leanings. Anyone coming to Wikipedia nad looking for info on the ACW will type that in for the search. Just because you don't like the name is no reason to change it. Or maybe we should change the names of all wars to something more literal or partisan. How about "The War against totalitarian evil" or "The Democratic Intervention War" for WW2? Or maybe we should change the name of the War of the Roses as there were no flowers involved. Don't you guys see how ridiculous this debate is. By all means note in the main ACW article that the war had different names at the time and later, but let's get serious. [Mbalmer]

Your concern is, of course, the reason we moved this topic into its own subarticle. The purpose of this article is to describe the various names that have been used widely since the war, an interesting situation because few wars in history have so many disagreements over the name. Unfortunately, some of the editors believe that the purpose of the article is to argue for the correct name of the war, rather than simply to document what names have been used widely. Yes, certainly, the overwhelming majority of people in the world and the United States refer to this conflict as the [American or U.S.] Civil War, which is why the main Wikipedia article on the subject has the name that it does. Hal Jespersen 21:15, 29 October 2006 (UTC)
I see your point regarding the separation of this issue from the main ACW article. It remains amusing to see the desire that authors have to rewrite history in this field to run into line with their own views. (Professional historians as well as Wiki contributors.) I guess you must have a constant battle against this as an ACW editor. Good luck and keep up the good work! [Mbalmer]

Adjective or no adjective

There should be an adjective to differentiate this civil war from other civil wars. This is a separate issue from what the adjective should be. Dropping the adjective to avoid picking an adjective is not the best solution.--Gbleem 19:05, 16 December 2005 (UTC) Or maybe I'm wrong. Civil War (United States of America) might work. --Gbleem 19:08, 16 December 2005 (UTC)

American vs. United States

American is a common adjective form meaning from or of the United States. While it probably wasn't thought out when first used it could be thought of as an abreviation of United State of American. I'm a "United States of American," doesn't role off my tongue but American is vague. I'm not sure we can fix the U.S. vs. American thing however I think there is a trend to use U.S. as an adjective and American as a noun. I am an American. The U.S. Military. The U.S. government. I think the title of the film "An American President" suggests an exception for using American to describe people. How do I explain American car or American music? Maybe we americans don't know who we are. I suppose American works well for cultural things that don't stop at the boarder. In the case of the Civil War I lean towards United States as an adjective because of the political nature and that it involved the relationship among the states. United States of America is probably better since United States is an abreviation of the country name. If one thinks there should be an adjective, and I do but that is a separate issue, then I support "United States of America Civil War". --Gbleem 19:03, 16 December 2005 (UTC)

Or maybe I'm wrong. Civil War (United States of America) might work. --Gbleem 19:07, 16 December 2005 (UTC)

I disagree. "American" is an adjective (American Revolution, American Football). "U.S." is used for proper nouns (U.S. Government, U.S. Army). Jrkarp 22:34, 27 December 2005 (UTC)


Actually I believe Wikipedia convention would be Civil War (United States) or Civil War of the United States. The country's full name seldom appears in article titles. American Civil War is inappropriate because other countries in the hemisphere have also had civil wars. I'm not completely happy with the policy of avoiding American as a national adjective. Yet since the country's name is hard to distinguish from two continents we sometimes get unwieldy titles. Add the common names for the war in the first line. Best wishes. Durova 19:28, 16 December 2005 (UTC)

  • Hm...thinking about this a bit more, the naming issue might deserve a short section of its own. Part of the issue revolves around whether the Confederacy was actually a separate country. This could give a good introduction to points of view regarding the war. Durova 19:32, 16 December 2005 (UTC)
I sympathize with how it is annoying how the United States has coopted the term "America," but I really don't see the potential for confusion here. If it were the "North American" or "South American Civil War", then I can see how this vagueness would be a problem. But, in practical terms and in English, people rarely use "American" by itself to refer to other countries besides the United States. If it was the Civil War of the AmericaS, there would be a problem. However, because the alternative names you propose have very little documented use in comparison to this name, I think it would only create problems to change the title, especially considering how people use search engines to find these articles. However, there is an easy solution. If you can find a documented source that makes this criticism of the most frequently used title of the war, the criticism could easily be added to this article which critiques the various names for the war. Tfine80 19:43, 16 December 2005 (UTC)
Regarding Wikipedia convention on the name of the conflict itself, the contents of List of civil wars indicate that the use of "National-adjective Civil War" is standard. Whether "American" is the proper national adjective for the United States is the subject of its own article. VT hawkeye 16:46, 17 December 2005 (UTC)
Why are we discussing what the name of the war should be? I, and others, agree that the name isn't accurate, and could be improved, but that doesn't matter. We can't change the name people use for this war. "Fixing" the name is prohibited as original research. --A D Monroe III 18:11, 17 December 2005 (UTC)

Although I can't call myself a fan of this convention, it's consistent with the rest of Wikipedia to make "American civil war" a redirect (until or unless some article examines civil wars of North and South America as a group, in which case that would lead to a disambiguation page). Depending on what region one comes from, the war itself has different names and the battles follow different naming patterns (Manassas/Bull Run). An early section in this article would be an excellent place to discuss those matters. Let the alternate names for the war redirect to the main article. Durova 03:34, 19 December 2005 (UTC)

"American Civil War" -- notice "civil war" is capitalized as a title -- is the common label. The words are in essence a thing in themselves. This is very different than other situations where we have to create our own titles to examine a subject -- for example "American charcoal drawing" versus "Charcoal drawing in the United States". But, if you would like it, American civil wars and Civil wars in the Americas can be a redirect to your proposed article Civil wars in North and South America. Tfine80 06:34, 19 December 2005 (UTC)
I appreciate your effort to explain the situation. I am already well acquainted with it. I hold a university degree in history. My point is that Wikipedia publishes for a worldwide audience. Its somewhat idiosyncratic title system is consistent. The editors of this article requested comments. Now you have mine. Best wishes. Durova 16:12, 19 December 2005 (UTC)

While it's certainly not the only civil war that's taken place in America, "American Civil War" is a widely accepted title among historians, largely because this war was so large in scope and of significant duration. I would stick with "American Civil War" - for clarity, a subtitle might read, "War of the Rebellion, 1861-1865", the title given the war by the United States Army in publishing the Official Records. I think that the discussion regarding the title is healthy, illuminating, and quite Wiki-ish. Best regards. Ezratrumpet 19:19, 20 December 2005 (UTC)

Comment ...Wikipedia publishes for a worldwide audience... point well taken. The name for the nationality of someone from the United States the world over is the variation of American in that country's language, i.e. Amerikaner in German, Americain in French, etc. Calling someone an American and meaning a U.S. citizen is an accepted practice, thus calling it the American Civil War should also follow and not be a big deal. Redirects at Civil War (United States) and Civil War of the United States (and probably a whole host of others) seem superfluous, but probably necessary.
Yikes! I thought this was on the actual article, that's what I get for leaping before I look... --Easter Monkey 03:06, 28 December 2005 (UTC)


I rewrote the main section of the article based on the excellent new article in North and South Magazine that I included in the References. Coincidentally, upon reading Bruce Catton's The Coming Fury, I was struck by how frequently the major Southern players used the term "Civil War" before the war. I think that it is important to recognize that the purpose of this article is not to advocate the correct name for the war, but to document the names that have been in historic and popular usage. I am hopeful that reviewers will agree that presenting historical quotations about the issues is preferable to merely making non-referenced assertions about them. Hal Jespersen 17:53, 1 January 2006 (UTC)

Very nice job indeed! Thanks. Rjensen 20:39, 1 January 2006 (UTC)

Thanks. I reverted your change about use of "War of the Rebellion" being the official name in documents during the war. I did a relatively thorough search of the Official Records and found only a trivial number of such uses, outside of the tile pages and prefaces to the documents, which were written in the 1880s. If you can cite some sources to contradict this, let me know. Hal Jespersen 23:32, 1 January 2006 (UTC)

Good Point. Lincoln's official documents called it "the rebellion" which should therefore be included. Rjensen 00:52, 2 January 2006 (UTC)

Whether you call it 'common' or 'enduring' (the latter term being well-defined, not meaningless), "War of the Rebellion" has not been used by anyone in a century and belongs in a secondary list. There are only 2 terms that have any currency in either popular usage or scholarship and the second one is fading. I chose to separate the two parts of the list of names for a reason and don't want to see everyone jumping in with their favorite names. If you have documentary evidence that "War of the Rebellion" is in significant usage currently, I may modify my stance. Hal Jespersen 15:01, 2 January 2006 (UTC)

I think we have an interesting philosophical difference. You look at the war from the point of view of today (when "rebellion" is less common) and I look at if from the point of view of 1865 (when "rebellion" was the most common term.) The advantage of the latter approach is that it does not change --the viewpoint of 1865 is fixed. But today always changes--we are now in 2006 and "insurrection" is the common term for Iraq fighting. What will the term for Iraq be in 2100?? Who knows. Rjensen 21:22, 2 January 2006 (UTC)

Yes, I can see that we have a philosophical difference. I believe that this article is only interesting in that it addresses a long-standing historical disagreement over the name. It is not simply a comprehensive list of all possible names that were in use at the time or soon after. If that were the standard we were using, we would probably also have "Naming the American Revolutionary War", "Naming World War II", "Naming the Iraq War", etc. Those articles do not exist because while there may have been a number of names used contemporaneously, most observers in the long term agreed upon a common name. In the case of the American Civil War, the losing faction took such complete umbrage to the name used by the winners that they have been arguing for over a century about the philosophical underpinnings of the name chosen. And thus we are left with two common terms that virtually everyone in the United States at least can identify correctly, whether or not they are comfortable with them. (And I hope I have done a good job in describing the genesis of those two terms in the article.) Try this as a test: pick someone off the street and ask "Did you have any ancestors in the War of the Rebellion?" and I will bet that 99% of the people you select randomly will not know what you are talking about. If the question were about the War Between the States, virtually all American adults would at least understand the expression, even though many outside the United States would not. So I am hoping that the article can continue to segregate the terms that faded away or were coined for very narrow political purposes in recent days away from the two enduring terms. Hal Jespersen 22:05, 2 January 2006 (UTC)

I quite agree. The tendency these days is to ask exactly the question you asked, "How do you feel about Event ABC?" The battles over names was indeed a battle over feelings today. I predict (with 40% confidence) that in 25 years it will get named "The War to Abolish Slavery". You see that trend already. Rjensen
That would be a very sad day indeed, since the war was categorically not fought for the purpose of abolishing slavery—in fact, from the POV of the South, it might be argued that it was fought in order to ensure servitude (of the States to the Federal Govt). Tomertalk 06:20, 9 January 2006 (UTC)
The Republicans at the time were sure it was fought a) to preserve the Union and b) to destroy the Slave Power--that is the organized efforts of the slave owners to destroy the union and spread slavery. Rjensen 06:36, 9 January 2006 (UTC)
(a) is true, (b) is not--slavery could only have been "spread" further in the territories claimed by the various southern states. Their declaration of independence puts the claim that they were interested in spreading slavery within the Union on shaky ground indeed. Slavery became a rallying cry in the North only after the Emancipation Proclamation was delivered, and even that is widely regarded by historians as a political ploy designed as an appeal to emotion in an effort to sway slaves in the South to take up arms in favor of the Union war effort. That the most-commonly cited outcome of the Civil War was the abolition of slavery throughout the US is an effect of looking back from the present on the panorama of the past, but that was by no means a guaranteed outcome--if it had been, the 13th Amendment would have been passed prior to the end of the War, not after the fact. New Jersey, in fact, hardly a bastion of slavery, as the 19th state to submit is yea/nay vote on that amendment, initially voted against adoption thereof. IMHO, a far less glamorous and further-reaching outcome of the war was the severe reduction in the rights guaranteed to the States by the Constitution, not because of any legislative, judicial or executive law, ruling or statute doing so, but by default—the Constitution guaranteed (and still does) the right of States to secede from the Union if the State so chooses, and that right was clearly abrogated by the fact, the Declaration of War itself declares the abrogation of that right. (Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that the abolition of slavery was inconsequential, I'd argue in fact that the 13th Amendment would have been proposed and passed regardless of the outcome of the War.) Tomertalk 10:40, 9 January 2006 (UTC)
The Slave Power issue is what drove most Republicans, including Lincoln (in addition to the nationalism involved in poreserving the Union). The issue came to the head in Kansas--and in efforts to annex Cuba as slave territory in 1854--see Ostend Manifesto. The main reason for Emancipation proclamation was to weaken the Confederacy by seizing the slaves owned by its leaders. That is, break the Slave Power once and for all. The 13th amend't was passes in Feb 1865 by Congress, but the war was really over by then and the goal was to make sure slavery never reappeared somewhere in the USA at some future point (or in places like Cuba if the US annexed it). Rjensen 11:11, 9 January 2006 (UTC)
The Slave Power issue drove Republicans, but it was an issue of political power and the view that the South gaining too much power would stifle the nation's economic future. The South's declaration of independence made moot the argument that the slaveholders had too much power in Washington, but it also cut off the important ports of New Orleans and Charleston (for example). As for the war being over when the 13th Amendment was passed, I already said that. :-) It wasn't passed tho, to prevent a reemergence of Slave Power, but to enshrine the principles outlined in the Emancipation Proclamation. Tomertalk 11:37, 9 January 2006 (UTC)
I think we generally agree. One interesting point is why the North did not let the South go. That was seriously discussed, but I think it was another element--the conservative nationalist Democrats who took over Buchanan's cabinet in Jan 1861--who forced the issue. It's interesting that Canada/Quebec have been debating secession for 25 years and have come to agree with Lincoln, that one-sided secession is illegal and it takes an agreement of both sides to split. Rjensen 13:15, 9 January 2006 (UTC)
Well, that assertion I'd put in Category:Idle conjecture, since while the Canadians may agree with Lincoln, the Constitution, with which Lincoln did not agree, and which has no particular relevance to the Canadians, per se, establishes that Lincoln's view was actually the "illegal" one.  :-p Anyways, it's now 8:38 AM, I've cast all kinds of votes for ArbCom including some particularly silly sounding (but completely serious) ones, and I'm about to go to bed, since I haven't slept all night. I'm in accord with you that we're not really at loggerheads about any particular issue, and in fact, I think we've drifted quite far afield of a discussion that actually has anything to do with editing the article, to say nothing of any dispute over its name, which is what initially brought me here! :-p Gnite! Tomertalk 14:40, 9 January 2006 (UTC)

Well, we're quite off the subject of editing at the moment, but I cannot say I agree. There have been over 50,000 books and articles written about the war, the vast majority presumably using the term Civil War, and that amount of momentum would take many more years than 25 to be turned around. Although I think it is likely that we will see a continuing trend of emphases on the contributions of African Americans in the war, and thus more discussions of slavery than of battles, I seriously doubt the name will change. I do think that "War Between the States" may be a completely obscure term in 25 years. Hal Jespersen 00:21, 3 January 2006 (UTC)

In my research to write a book on Prof. Lowe, the Union Army Balloon Corps' Chief Aeronaut, I have seen written and have even seen him having written "the emergency" and "the Rebellion." I believe the word emergency was used when it was thought that the war would only last a few months. But even by 1863 Lowe was writing about serving for the duration of the emergency. Not an upper case "E", but it was still called the emergency in his Official Reports. The Rebellion was another word used by contemporary writers of the same subject — and with an upper case "R." Magi Media 00:14, 27 February 2006 (UTC)Magi Media

I just thought maybe someone might want to change this sentence, as it doesn't make sense;

"The combatants, armies, and battles of the war also had distinctive names used at the time and historically."

I don't think I can change that, since i'm not a registered user yet, but anyway, it's near the beginning of the article. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) at 20:04 on 30 January 2007

You don't have to be a registered user to make the change. -- Rob C (Alarob) 00:44, 1 February 2007 (UTC)

Secession Movement

Few other secession movements are called civil wars so I don't see why this one is. For instance, the American Revolution wasn't called "The Second Brtiish Civil War", so why is this war called "The American Civil War"? Cameron Nedland 20:28, 29 January 2006 (UTC)

  • Because history is written by the victors! -JW1805 (Talk) 20:40, 29 January 2006 (UTC)

The naming of the war was a loaded issue in 1861. The C.S.A. had proclaimed its independence, but the U.S. government did not wish to even acknowledge the right of states to secede. Therefore, the Confederate government referred to the war as a war between two nations (soon shortened to "war between the states") while the U.S. government called it a "civil war." The correct name for the war is a matter of opinion. So this article has to fairly represent divergent opinion while maintaining a neutral point of view. -- Alarob 00:09, 29 September 2006 (UTC)

Two points here. The American Colonies were just that, colonies, not part of the home country. Thus, no-one in Britain would have considered their break anything other than rebellion. Never civil war and never secession. As an example, the French have made some of their colonies Departments of France. These could in theory attempt to secede and take part in civil war. This was never the case with Britain (except perhaps for the argument over Ireland, but that's a a whole other can of worms.) And as an aside, England and Britain have been riven with dozens of "civil wars", and yet when we say Civil War, we mean the 17th century conflict between King and Parliament. So, even suggesting that the Revolution would be the "Second British (sic, should be English) Civil War" is rather parochial. My second point is that it is my understanding that whilst Lincoln did not recognise the right of the South to secede, he did recognise their right to revolution and rebellion. I think that this is a pretty crucial point, because it is on that basis that the US Government could legally suppress the rebellion with military force. [mbalmer]

I didn't mean to imply that the American Revolution could properly be regarded as a "civil war." I was describing the politics of 1861 as I understand it. It included a contest between North and South to shape both domestic and world opinion of the conflict. As for Lincoln's views, he was constrained by the presence of slave-holding states in the Union (MO, KY, MD, DE) and his desire to keep them there. It would not serve his turn to allow that there was any resemblance between the rebellion of 1861 and that of 1776. In 1861 he sought to emphasize what Americans of all states had in common, and he remained convinced for months that most Southerners were still Unionist. Meanwhile Southern leaders strove to claim the mantle of George Washington and sought to beat the Union just as he had beaten the Empire. Each side went into the war with assumptions about the fellow-enemy that did not prove valid. So the war changed, and it kept grinding on. (The latest survey I've read: Fellman, et al. This Terrible War ISBN 0321125584). -- Alarob 22:49, 30 October 2006 (UTC)

The Wawah

This was deleted " The War (or parodied in the non-rhotic Virginia accent as "The Wawah"), "The Waw" or "The Wawah" is a fairly common mock pronunciation of "The War" here in Virginia (Richmond being the "capital of the Confederacy" ought to lend this a little weight. [2] Should it be added back in? MPS 22:00, 22 February 2006 (UTC)

There are plenty of humorous parodies that don't make it into encyclopedia articles. Simply because people pronounce things with regional accents is no reason to include them as unique terms. How about Der Var, spoken by the the German immigrant veterans? Hal Jespersen 01:28, 23 February 2006 (UTC)
I agree with the removal. That's just too silly for an encyclopedia article. --JW1805 (Talk) 02:25, 23 February 2006 (UTC)
I hear you that it is a colloquialism, but I think calling someone (e.g. Bush, Kofi Anann) "Der Fuhrer" in a German accent is loaded with cultural connotations that compares them to Hitler's authoritatianism. This is similar to loaded cultural connotations of referring to the Civil War as "The War" and pronouncing it "The Wawah" to stress that somone's views on The War are distinctively Southern POV and perhaps antiquated/discredited. Wikipedia documents Der Fuhrer because of these connotations, and it would do well to at least mention "The Wawah" somewhere. MPS 16:27, 23 February 2006 (UTC)
Concur with the removal. I'm in Virginia (grew up in the Richmond suburb of Midlothian, actually), and the pronunciation I think you're specifying (phonetic spelling of accent/dialect being a notoriously difficult task) doesn't have anywhere near the currency or common sense of meaning of your German example, not even locally. The Google link you offered gave some rather scattershot results as well. The concept needs to be more solid to be included in Wikipedia. VT hawkeyetalk to me 01:58, 24 February 2006 (UTC)

I also concur with the removal of this entry, for the stated reasons and one additional one: lack of clarity. As an Alabamian I found it easy to hear the intended pronunciation of "wawah" for "war," but many readers from other English-speaking nations will not be able to do so. They are likely to hear, e.g., two equally stressed syllables (like the baby-talk for "water"), or to wonder whether stress belongs on the last syllable (to rhyme with "aha!"). All in all, this kind of observation belongs in a detailed discussion of English dialects, with IPA transliteration and/or sound files. Not in this article. Alarob 18:03, 13 September 2006 (UTC)

"Miss" as an aristocratic title?

This edit, drops the "Miss" from "Miss Mildred Lewis Rutherford", and has the summary "POV (no aristocratic titles in U.S.) and wf". Is "Miss" an aristocratic title? Ewlyahoocom 01:47, 3 March 2006 (UTC)

  • I don't know about that, but it was unnecessary in that case. --JW1805 (Talk) 03:39, 3 March 2006 (UTC)

May 22 edit

I removed the two recent additions. The first (on War of Northern Aggression) was redundant with the preceding sentence. The second (on War for States' Rights) did not need explanations of Dred Scott; the purpose here is to catalog names in enduring use, not justify them, particularly newly emerged ones. By the way, on ACW pages, we spell it "defense." Hal Jespersen 14:18, 22 May 2006 (UTC)


In concert with my addition of a link to this page at the beginning of the ACW page, I just added in the Motivations section as the page failed to make note of the actual reasons that people wished to use different names for the war, focusing solely on the fact that they have. I find the motivations to be far too important to leave unmentioned. Any input or modifications would be appreciated.AlexMc 08:01, 15 July 2006 (UTC)

new material has to be based on identified reliable sources. Speculation doesn't count. Rjensen 08:43, 15 July 2006 (UTC)
I may not have provided a source, but there was nothing remotely speculative about it, and while you're within your "Wikipedia rights" to remove something that's not sourced, it's a shame that you're being a dick about including information that everyone who knows the subject knows. What's your motivation here? It's like removing a statement saying that "the sky is blue" because it's not sourced.AlexMc 09:19, 15 July 2006 (UTC)
Anyway, I redid it at the end of the War Between the States section and used a source. Since the source is affirmed by an organization that advocated the use of the term, I'm sure you can agree that it's "reliable."AlexMc 09:38, 15 July 2006 (UTC)

Other languages

I have reverted some additions about the French name and someone else has done the same about Japanese, but I am having some second thoughts. Would it be useful to have a section with a bulleted list for names in other languages? For one thing, I have seen little indication that Wikipedia articles in one language pay attention to other languages. For example, World War II does not list non-English names for the war, even though it was a conflict between people of many languages. My other concerns are that we would be getting uncited information that I would have little opportunity to verify and that we would be subjected to the same sorts of editor conflicts about whether names were justified or not. As an example of the latter, I noticed that the German version of American Civil War is titled Sezessionskrieg and that has a warning label at the top that says the name is under dispute. I would hate to see those disagreements proliferate in this article. Other opinions? Hal Jespersen 14:21, 27 July 2006 (UTC)

I agree with Hlj: the article should have a section on the main foreign language terms.Rjensen 14:28, 27 July 2006 (UTC)
Well, to be more clear, I have strong reservations about the approach, as I describe above, and am asking for other opinions, not soliciting support for the idea of listing alternative names. (Another concern that I just remembered is that we might not be able to deal with any alternative character sets needed for those names. Don't know...) Hal Jespersen 15:50, 27 July 2006 (UTC)
I disagree with having a list of foreign-language translations. The real aim of this article, as I see it, is to describe the various names used for the war in colloquial and political discussion through the past 150 years and the conflicting points of view associated with them. That historical conflict has operated almost completely in English and among English speakers, with rare crossover to other languages (as in German above), as it's a primarily American topic. Keep the foreign-language controversies on their own WPs. VT hawkeyetalk to me 16:42, 27 July 2006 (UTC)

War of Southern Secession?

I'm not sure if this is correct, but I think I remember hearing the Civil War being referred to as the "War of Southern Secession" - has anyone else heard this before? I live in New England, so it could just be a Northern thing. Retroviseur 13:03, 17 August 2006 (UTC)

United States Civil War

United States Civil War is a redirect to American Civil War. Apparantly, a lot of pages use that name, although I've never heard it before. Is that term acceptable, and if so, shouldn't it be mentioned here? -LtNOWIS 08:06, 31 August 2006 (UTC)

"United States Civil War" is occasionally used in libraries, (to be consistent with their catalogs) but is not usually found in books or talks. Rjensen 11:09, 31 August 2006 (UTC)

War for States' Rights?

If you do a search through Making of America at Cornell and Michigan online books and magazines, you do not find the term. Library search show no such title, Questia shows it is not used inside old books. Google search indicates the first usage is late 20th century by neo-confederates--I found no use before 1990 by anyone. So I make that point in the main article. Rjensen 17:59, 13 December 2005 (UTC)

The article needed a section heading to cover the terms War of Northern Aggression and War for States' Rights. Under Historical terms I inserted a new Partisan terms heading and a brief description. Also removed a few sentences of polemic and anecdotal evidence, and summarized the point that the other author had made. I think it is important to note that the "states' rights" case is an argument against the dominant thesis that the southern states seceded to preserve slavery. That is now mentioned.
It is true that the term is not historical (i.e., in use during the war or even by veterans), but it is in use today among partisans of a particular point of view concerning the war's nature or causes.(unsigned/undated, by User:Alarob, 19:03, 13 Sept. 2006(UTC))
I regret that neither one of you have been able to find usages of the term "States' Rights" in context to the War. Please bear in mind that your inability to locate online usage of the term is not evidence that the term was never used in context to the War. Certainly, written memoirs and other documents of Confederate soldiers and period newspapers in the South clearly reference the term "States' Rights" in context to the War. I and others are working to provide citations. There are better alternatives (cites tag) than the blanking/deleting our efforts to provide documentation to the article. We request that you not do so in the future. Sincerely,--Fix Bayonets! 12:27, 14 September 2006 (UTC)

Although I have not been one of the recent reverters, I can comment on the subject. The edits you have been doing may have some historical significance, but you are doing it in a way that is introducing sloppiness into the formatting and writing of the article. It is often easy and tempting to revert such changes rather than investing the time to correct them. For example, improper capitalization in headings, use of nonstandard headings such as Specific References and General References (there should be a References section for lists of books and a Notes section for the in-line references, or footnotes), sloppy punctuation, etc.
One of the hardest things about this article is to get people to separate the notion of the adjectives associated with the war and actual terms used to name the war. From my own experience, I recall many instances of Vietnam being called "this f***ing war." These were quite common, but you cannot find any formal usage that indicates "The F***ing War" was ever used as a name for the war that was meant to substitute for "Vietnam War." There are a few names in this article that were and are actually used that way, appearing frequently in titles of books and names of scholarly articles, such as Civil War, War between the States, and, less often, War of the Rebellion. The purpose of the article is to describe those formal names and their usage in history, not to find adjectives that may be used frequently, but were not used as actual names of the war. I think you need to provide better documentation that "War for States' Rights" was used in this way. It is fine that a soldier wrote that he was fighting for states' rights, or a song mentions it, but that does not mean the term was ever used as a formal name. (Perhaps it was. I have not seen evidence of it, but perhaps you have some.) Hal Jespersen 15:13, 14 September 2006 (UTC)

First of all, I thank you for your comments and suggestions. I agree with the view that there are numerous problems with this article. I concede that problems exist with regard to some of my own efforts to remedy the problems. In response to your comments, I have attempted to "wikify" the subheadings and rectify the problem with the Notes and References.
In response to the issue of the "purpose of the article," it is my opinion that there had been significant deviation from that intent some time ago (i.e., prior to my edits). It does not appear that each subsection (and the contents thereof) were written with the afore-mentioned purpose in mind. Perhaps an additional sub-heading can be created to treat "adjectives" for the war that were frequently used but were not terms used to name the war ? It is also my preference that post-war "names" be treated separately under another subsection. I welcome any comments on these issues.
I agree that citations should be provided for any and all alleged names. I also think that comments alleging that certain names were not used, infrequently used, etc., should also be fully cited as well.--Fix Bayonets! 16:02, 14 September 2006 (UTC)

I suggest that it is inappropriate to include claims that you are "working to provide citations" for. Until you have your evidence, kindly do not make your claim. Also note that Wikipedia, like any encyclopedia, is not the place for original research. If your aim is to revolutionize the historiography of the Civil War, you are in the wrong place. --Alarob 18:36, 20 September 2006 (UTC)

Perhaps the entire article can be scrapped until each and every sentence is cited in full with credible (i.e., non-revisionist) sources. If your aim is to revolutionize the historiography of the Civil War by revisionist tactics, you are in the wrong place. Yours truly,--Fix Bayonets! 19:07, 20 September 2006 (UTC)

Perhaps a fuller critique of the passage under discussion would be in order.
[regarding F.B. edit: The association of the "States' Rights" issue and the War are inexorably mingled.] A statement of opinion that does not help establish whether "War for State's Rights" actually belongs in a list of historical names for the war.
[regarding F.B. edit: Thus, in speaking of the War, the term "States' Rights" (or variations thereof) frequently appears in context to references and discussions of the War.] This also fails to establish a historical context for "War for States' Rights." It also fails to clarify whether the term was in use on both sides (assuming it was in use at all). The reader must infer from the examples given that the term was associated with the South. I suggest that many Wikipedia readers will know little about the politics of the American Civil War, and we should briefly provide the necessary background.
[regarding F.B. edit: For example, in discussing the War, Confederate Private Sam Watkins wrote in his memoir that “We believe in the doctrine of State rights… [w]e only fought for our State rights… [t]he South fell battling under the banner of State rights…," etc.[9] Thus, to Watkins, as to many other Southerners, the War was indeed the "[War for] States' Rights."] Yes, my friend, but the issue is not what Southern soldiers believed, but whether or not the term "War for States' Rights" was actually in widespread use.
  • Addendum to above: I've been reading Watkins' memoir and have found passages that also contradict the idea that the war was fought for states' rights. Not that this proves much: From the soldiers' perspective, loyalty to friends in uniform probably overrode all other principles. (Some earlier comments removed.)Alarob 22:40, 27 September 2006 (UTC)
[regarding F.B. edit: And it cannot be argued that the States' Rights debate was at the forefront of Southern political climate, and the subject of heated debate in the various State legislative bodies, courts, and printing presses; and had appreciable affect in the Dred Scot decision.] I believe the intended wording was It cannot be disputed -- an important difference. Also, I think it is clear that this passage is argumentative. It does not relate to the provenance of the term "War for States' Rights" but tries to make a case for why Southerners fought. My friends, this is not what the article is about.
[regarding F.B. edit: "For Southern rights hurrah!" echoed in the hills and valleys of the South land in the form of the everpresent tune The Bonnie Blue Flag: This is charming use of imagery, but seems unsuited to an encyclopedia article. Does the editor wish to assert that the indicated cheer "echoed" in every Southern valley during the period 1861-65? Or only certain ones? Are we to believe that the song "Bonnie Blue Flag" was sung incessantly over this five-year period, as the unusual adjective "everpresent" implies? However, while these questions are interesting, they still offer no evidence that the term "War for States' Rights" was ever used by anyone. It does demonstrate that "rights" were a treasured political value to Southerners. But that is not the same thing.
[regarding F.B. edit: Thus, it is no surprise that the States' Rights theme was interwoven into Confederate unit flags,] which statement is followed by a list of unit slogans, none of which contain the term "States' Rights." I am at a loss to understand how this list of anecdotal evidence contributes to the article.
[regarding F.B. edit: On rare occasions, Southerners even used the term "States' Rights" as given or middle names for children (e.g., States Rights Gist).] Very well, a man born in South Carolina at the height of the Nullification Crisis was given the name "State's Rights" and went on to serve as a general in the Confederate Army. This is interesting and informative, but it does not establish that the term "War for States' Rights" was ever in use, anywhere, until it was added to this article.
I stand by my earlier changes (oldid=75553107). Do I hear support for restoring them? Alarob 18:17, 20 September 2006 (UTC)

[regarding Alarob response: It also fails to clarify whether the term was in use on both sides (assuming it was in use at all). The reader must infer from the examples given that the term was associated with the South.] I concur that it should be clarified that the term was associated with the South.--Fix Bayonets! 19:32, 20 September 2006 (UTC)
[regarding Alarob response: I suggest that many Wikipedia readers will know little about the politics of the American Civil War, and we should briefly provide the necessary background.] I concur.--Fix Bayonets! 19:32, 20 September 2006 (UTC)
[regarding Alarob response: I think it is clear that this passage is argumentative. It does not relate to the provenance of the term "War for States' Rights" but tries to make a case for why Southerners fought. My friends, this is not what the article is about.] Yes, quite a nice defeat on your part of a straw man argument. But that was not the point which I made.--Fix Bayonets! 19:32, 20 September 2006 (UTC)
[regarding Alarob response: [w]hile these questions are interesting, they still offer no evidence that the term "War for States' Rights" was ever used by anyone. It does demonstrate that "rights" were a treasured political value to Southerners. But that is not the same thing.] Again, quite a nice defeat on your part of a straw man argument. But that was not the point which I made.--Fix Bayonets! 19:32, 20 September 2006 (UTC)
As I suggested above, since you seem so concerned about documentation, let's remove each and every sentence that is not fully cited via credible sources.--Fix Bayonets! 19:32, 20 September 2006 (UTC)

  • Support. Your arguments are thorough and exactly on point. Hal Jespersen 19:09, 20 September 2006 (UTC)

ASK AND YE SHALL RECEIVE...CITATION TO USE OF TERM “WAR FOR STATES’ RIGHTS: Davis, Burke, The Civil War: Strange and Fascinating Facts, New York: The Fairfax Press, 1982. pp. 79-80.--Fix Bayonets! 21:05, 20 September 2006 (UTC)

  • I won't do a revert, as there have been so many changes, but will reincorporate some previous content (when I get a chance). Alarob 22:40, 27 September 2006 (UTC)

So far the earliest (and only) use of "War for States Rights" that I've seen is in Sam Watkins' memoir, ca. 1881 (in a passage not yet quoted in the article). Baylis' memoir is transcribed here, at least in part, and the phrase is "War for Southern Rights," not "States Rights." I have not yet had a crack at Burke Davis' book (a secondary source), but so far it's looking like this was an obscure name. Is there other evidence that would be relevant here? -- Alarob 22:53, 5 October 2006 (UTC)

States' Rights revisited

After waiting a decent interval for some response to earlier criticisms of this subsection, I've done a drastic repair job. In the event of controversy, here are my comments. I made my case against the use of songs, slogans, and military banners earlier (see War for States' Rights?). I will only address the material added since then:

  • Unless there is something wrong with the UDC transcription I saw, John Baylis Lewis refers to the "War for Southern Rights," not "States' Rights."
  • A cavalryman's statement about "four long years of bloody war for States Rights and liberty" does not tell us what he (or anyone else) called the war.
  • Sam Watkins' memoir (first published 1881-1882 in the Columbia, Tennessee Herald) is an excellent source but provides contradictory evidence on this matter. Here's the cited quote, complete and in context (Watkins, Co. Aytch, ISBN 0743255417 Parameter error in {{isbn}}: Invalid ISBN., p. 6):
We believe in the doctrine of State rights, they in the doctrine of centralization.
John C. Calhoun, Patrick Henry, and Randolph, of Roanoke, saw the venom under their wings, and warned the North of the consequences, but they laughed at them. We only fought for our State rights, they for Union and power. The South fell battling under the banner of State rights, but yet grand and glorious even in death.

The discussion is in the context of Watkins' affirming that the South had a legitimate right to secede, regardless of how the war turned out. He calls it a "digression" before returning to his narrative.

Let's consider briefly a few other passages from the same source. I'm doing this to show that there can be problems with relying on a soldier's memoir (even an excellent one) for developing theories about the causes or meaning of the war:

  • ...I write these reminiscences of the war of secession, rebellion, state rights, slavery, or our rights in the territories, or by whatever other name it may be called. (p. 4) Speaks for itself.
  • Watkins differs rather sharply from the "Bonnie Blue" view given in the present subsection. Watkins writes:
Our people were divided upon the question of Union and secession. Our generals were scrambling for "Who ranked." The private soldier fought and starved and died for naught. (p. 230)
  • Co. H held an election for fourth corporal that pitted Dave Sublett, a known "Union man" (although a Confederate soldier), against Frank Haliburton, a "states' rights democrat." The "Union man" won the election in a landslide -- proving, I guess, that the Confederate soldier opposed states' rights and supported "a glorious Union forever." It's right there in the book. (pp. 70-73) Would I actually make that argument? No, it's absurd.

I want to finish with Sam Watkins by returning to that passage on p. 4, referring to the "war of .... state rights" and of four or five other things. It's the closest thing I've seen to a historic use of the name "war for state's rights" (in lower case, and with elision). The date is 1881.

If this is the best we can do, then I think we have to concede that the term War for States' Rights is actually of recent vintage, and probably not widespread. If no other evidence is forthcoming, I recommend we consider removing this subsection entirely.

Here is the kind of evidence that would change my mind: the use of "War for States' Rights" (or "State Rights"), in capital letters, by more than one historian (of any era), or in official government documents. If this was ever a popular name for the war, it should not be hard to come up with that kind of evidence. -- Alarob 22:03, 6 October 2006 (UTC)

Now in this case, you have improved a long and rambling section by shortening it to a length commensurate with its historic importance. I question why you list alternative terms in the second paragraph of that section, rather than in the following section. The first term is sort of a variation, but the others are unrelated. Hal Jespersen 23:34, 6 October 2006 (UTC)

[F.B., to Alarob] [with regard to John Baylis Lewis quote] CHECK YOUR READING GLASSES ;-)
Seriously, see the reference... the John Baylis Lewis quote was given verbatim.--Fix Bayonets! 12:59, 13 October 2006 (UTC)

[with regard to Sam Watkins quote “Our people…”] "Our people" -- references Tennesseans, who were in fact divided over the issue (primarily sectional). Therefore, Watkin’s use of the term "[o]ur people" does not support your assertion that Watkins was not fighting for States’ Rights.--Fix Bayonets! 13:09, 13 October 2006 (UTC)

[with regard to Alarob’s statement that during a company election for fourth corporal, Dave Sublett, a known "Union man" (although a Confederate soldier), was pitted against Frank Haliburton, a "states' rights democra;" The "Union man" won, proving, I guess, that the Confederate soldier opposed states' rights and supported "a glorious Union forever." Would I [Alarob] actually make that argument? No, it's absurd."] Agreed. The above would be an absurd argument.--Fix Bayonets! 13:09, 13 October 2006 (UTC)

[Alarob to F.B.]
[with regard to John Baylis Lewis quote]Reading glasses checked. Here's a web page containing at least a portion of Baylis' reminiscences. Neither this page nor its continuation mentions "War for States' Rights," but there is a reference to "the War for Southern Rights."
In any case, a single use in the memoir of one South Carolina reservist is insufficient to prove that the name was current during the War. -- Alarob 19:48, 13 October 2006 (UTC)
[with regard to Watkins quote on company election of 4th Cpl.] My point is that Watkins uses the episode mainly to poke fun at political rhetoric on both sides, and we shouldn't just take what he writes at face value. That cuts both ways, you see. --Alarob 19:48, 13 October 2006 (UTC)


[F.B., to Alarob] [with regard to John Baylis Lewis quote]

GET IT NOW?--Fix Bayonets! 20:19, 13 October 2006 (UTC).

[with regard to Alarob’s statement that “the term War for States' Rights is actually of recent vintage, and probably not widespread. If no other evidence is forthcoming, I [Alarob] recommend we consider removing this subsection entirely"] Again, see John Baylis Lewis quote.--Fix Bayonets! 13:09, 13 October 2006 (UTC)

[Alarob to F.B.]
[with regard to John Baylis Lewis quote]
You are correct. Baylis refers to "the War for Southern Rights" at the beginning of his memoir and the "War for States' Rights" at the end. I was mistaken to overlook the second case. But what do you make of Baylis' use of both terms? Is "States' Rights" more significant than "Southern Rights," which goes unmentioned in this article? If so, why?
I am not asking in order to push an agenda, as you suggested more than once. I am asking in order to find out. -- Alarob 23:52, 13 October 2006 (UTC)
[with regard to F.B.'s statement: "Again, see John Baylis Lewis quote"] My dear Mr. Bayonets. Redundant bold-face text and horizontal rules do not constitute a demonstration of fact. I addressed the Baylis quote where you first introduced it. I also urge you to take into account the difference between one man's description of the war and a name used and recognized by reasonably large numbers of people. This article is about the latter. -- Alarob 21:12, 13 October 2006 (UTC)

War for States' Rights?: Revert

User:Fix Bayonets! has reverted changes to this article without responding to basic objectionns stated clearly above. This is not admirable behavior. I would appreciate advice from fellow editors as to how to proceed. -- Alarob 21:12, 13 October 2006 (UTC) I have done a revert of the changes. I ask that Fix Bayonets! be more deliberate about editing from a neutral point of view. -- Alarob 21:36, 13 October 2006 (UTC)

That is a blatant falsehood, and you are well aware of that fact. First of all, you have mischaracterized what I actually did -- I restored ONLY four (4) of the NUMEROUS sentences which you had BLANKED in their entirety. Furthermore, I posted my reasonings for same above, in bold, and had notified any and all editors to see same (see the original edit comment field). You do not own this page, despite your apparent illusions to the contrary. TO USE YOUR OWN WORDS:

"If you don't want your writing to be edited mercilessly or redistributed by others, do not submit it."

— Alarob 15:42, 6 October 2006 (UTC)(above)

Your agenda does not drive history. Restored partial edits. --Fix Bayonets! 22:28, 13 October 2006 (UTC)

Have a nice weekend. -- Alarob 23:40, 13 October 2006 (UTC)

Subsequent to the above, I have revised the Watkins sentences (two {2}) to incorporate Watkins' use of term "war of... state rights"; and added an additional reference to term "War for States' Rights" (Faust).--Fix Bayonets! 14:17, 14 October 2006 (UTC)

War Between the States section

As it seems that the naming of the war is a topic of hot debate, I am clearly and thoroughly delineating any and all edits I made. Under the section "War Between the States," the prior version stated in the opening paragraph:

"This term has been used widely in the South 1868–1960s. It was seldom used during the war itself.... Although appearing in memoirs and some scholarly publications, the term did not become popular in the South until the late 19th century."

I moved the above three (3) sentences to the sixth (6th) paragraph of that section ["W.B.T.S."], and slightly condensed and reworded them as follows:

"Among Southerners, the term 'War Between the States' has been used widely from 1868 to present. The phrase 'War Between the States' was seldom used during the war itself, although it did appear in memoirs and some scholarly publications."

I also added the terminology which the court used in reference to the war in the 1862 U.S. Supreme Court case The Brig Amy Warwick, and included full pinpoint citations. I noted that The Brig Amy Warwick case made an interesting reference to the Queen of England's declaration of neutrality. Additionally, I noted that in a 1979 United States Supreme Court case, the Court used the term “War Between the States;” and that the term is used in other various courts across the United States (both North and South) in recent times. I provided full pinpoint citations to all of the above.

Next, I moved the section titled "War between the United States of America and the Confederate States of America" and combined it into the section titled "W.B.T.S.," because the text of the former was virtually identical to that of the latter. For those concerned, the text which I moved and combined originally read as follows:

"This [War between the Confederate States of America and the United States of America] was the official term used in documents in Richmond during the war. This term in shortened form may be the genesis of 'War Between the States.'"

As can be seen in the modified "W.B.T.S." section, the change is non-material, as it now states:

"The term 'War between the Confederate States of America and the United States of America' was the official term used by the Confederacy in documents in Richmond during the war. The above-referenced terms in shortened form may be the genesis of the term 'War Between the States.'"

Also, by re-formatting syntax, I caused the various terms to appear in the table of contents. I did so for the purpose of easier navigation.

Lastly, I observed that, with respect to the subject-matter Wikipedia article, in instances where the term 'W.B.T.S.' was used by Wikipedia editors (and not as part of a quote), the term appeared in the following formats:

(1) "War Between the States"; and
(2) "War between the States."

For the sake of uniformity, I changed all uses of the term 'W.B.T.S.' [where not used as a part of quoted material] to "War Between the States." If consensus prefers the form "War between the States," I will revert. But again, it should be noted that the style "War Between the States" is now being used in various courts, including S.C.O.T.U.S.

See the revisions here

Cheers!--Black Flag 05:04, 15 September 2006 (UTC)

FYI, it is not normally necessary to describe edits in detail on the talk page. Those requiring justification are okay, but simple listings are not necessary. The changes to the article speak for themselves. And in the spirit of saving you some fingers stress, were you aware that there is a Show Preview button that allows you to view your changes prior to committing them, allowing you to avoid many dozens of edits that result in relatively minor changes? Hal Jespersen 14:55, 15 September 2006 (UTC)
I split off the occasional legal cases, which are very rarely read and are not in fact legal precedents for the name. (Over 99% of the legal cases uses "Civil War") They should not be here but are testimony to someon'es OR. Rjensen 15:22, 15 September 2006 (UTC)

The issue in the article should be stated that the common term for the war (conflict) is Civil War. This has been so since President Abraham Lincoln used the word when he gave the Gettysburg Address.

The conflict over the word Civil War exists because the descendants of Confederates believe the word Civil War is misused and it is wrong to define the war as such. They believe this because they believe the definition of the term for civil war does not define the war that occurred. The definition of the word (Readers Digest English Dictionary) civil war is, "War between parties or sections of the same country."

Historian William C. Davis in the book The Cause Lost Myths and Realities of the Confederacy, 178-180 (1996) discusses this controversy. He says the definition of the word civil war is, "a war between two opposing groups of citizens of the same country." He adds Confederate descendants interpret this to mean, "two groups fighting for control of the same nation." Confederate descendants point out, "the South fought only for control of itself and not of the Union as a whole." William Davis points out Confederates views are based on misunderstanding of the definition of the word civil war. "Dictionaries do define civil war as a 'war between opposing groups of citizens of the same country' and similar wording. But that is all. Nothing is said or implied (my italics) about them fighting for control of the same country, for all of it or part of it. A civil war, in short, by universally accepted definition, is any conflict in which citizens fight among themselves."

This definition defines the war that occurred in 1860. A civil war (the Civil War). This topic should be described as a conflict because there is as a misunderstanding by Confederate descendants of the definition of the word civil war. JoseC 05:29, 27 September 2006 (UTC)

WBTS section: Excessive length

My concern about the War between the States section is that it is far too long and contains excessive detail. This is an encylopedia article, not a contribution to the legal history of the Southern states. Quotations from court cases and legislative actions are unnecessary. They are also dull.

The same could be said of other sections, but War between the States is definitely the most over-long. We want people to actually read the article. The topic interests me, and even I have trouble getting through that section. It's close to 1,300 words today. It should need fewer than 500.

Please, let's cut it back and make it friendlier. If no one objects, I'll do it myself.

Alarob 22:29, 27 September 2006 (UTC)

I, for one, do object, and further ask that before you attempt to make such radical changes, we consider the generation of a "sub-article."--Fix Bayonets! 00:52, 28 September 2006 (UTC)

Oppose. The subject-matter material helps to establish both the genesis and foundation of the use of the term "War Between the States." The material also establishes that use of the afore-going term is neither the passing fancy of the post-bellum South, nor the rhetoric of [to use your own words] "partisans of a particular point of view."
--Black Flag 07:26, 28 September 2006 (UTC)

Gentlemen, it is not my objective to minimize the importance of the subject. Please bear in mind that importance is not measured by the number of words spent on the topic. I also ask you to bear in mind the boldface statement on each "edit" page, below the editing window: If you don't want your writing to be edited mercilessly or redistributed by others, do not submit it.
However, as I see that you are men of sensibility -- and no, that is not an insult -- I have posted the proposed revision on my own talk page. Please examine it and decide for yourselves whether I have been unfair. This is an unnecessary step, but I have taken it in the interest of harmony among our community of editors. I hope you will respond in the same spirit, and with a will to see some merit in my effort. -- Alarob 23:32, 28 September 2006 (UTC)
Having posted the edited passage on my talk page for three days, I have now incorporated it into the article. Some links were edited to avoid redirects; otherwise it's the same. -- Alarob 22:08, 2 October 2006 (UTC)

WBTS section: minimize legal trivia

Wiki is a general encyclopedia--not a compendium of trivia distantly related to a topic. A couple examples are enough to make the point of judicial usage to refer to a time frame. (That is saying that such and such happened after/before/during the War Between the States does not pretend to give the war itself a name. There is no need for more than one or two of these trivial examples and certainly no need for a legal trail through the state courts that will not benefit any users. Legal experts should be in Lexis-Nexis if they want authoritative information, not Wiki.

Thank you. Your opinion has been duly noted.--Black Flag 17:04, 15 September 2006 (UTC)
It is also my opinion. Alarob 22:32, 27 September 2006 (UTC)
See the above.--Black Flag 07:29, 28 September 2006 (UTC)

Alas Black Flag-- a pirate name is dumping legal trivia in this otherwise serious article. We need to have a perspective about the Civil War and about Wiki as a serious encyclopedia. The article in question is about NAMING the war and none of Black Flag's additions relate directly to that point. Instead they are incidental references using "war between the states" as an incidental date -- like "before the war" or ""before the great depression" The judges certainly do not attempt to name the war itself. So it's junk information. Rjensen 17:34, 15 September 2006 (UTC)

Mr.Rjensen: I left the following polite message on your User page:
"Please refrain from undoing other people's edits repeatedly. If you continue, you may be blocked from editing Wikipedia under the three-revert rule, which states that nobody may revert a single page more than three times in 24 hours. (Note: this also means editing the page to reinsert an old edit. If the effect of your actions is to revert back, it qualifies as a revert.) Thank you. · ·--Black Flag 17:50, 15 September 2006 (UTC)"
I'm sure you will add it to the collection you seem to be building:
User notice: temporary 3RR block imposed on Rjensen -- 11:30, 6 May 2006 (UTC)
User notice: temporary 3RR block imposed on Rjensen -- 13:24, 15 June 2006 (UTC)
User notice: temporary 3RR block imposed on Rjensen -- 21:14, 1 July 2006 (UTC)
User notice: temporary 3RR block imposed on Rjensen -- 05:03, 13 August 2006 (UTC)
Also, I thank you for the kind manner in which you chose to welcome me to the Wikipedia community. WP:BITE; WP:EQ; WP:CIV--Black Flag 18:20, 15 September 2006 (UTC)

WBTS section gutted

I have not watched this article for a couple of weeks because I was getting sick of all the bickering and incessant and mostly irrelevant editing back and forth. Taking a look today, I will have to say that you have really gutted a lot of the value of this article in the section about War between the States. Go back to look at the version of August 15 and you will see that it is a clear and thorough discussion of how this term, which was not used frequently during the war, was promoted through public relations campaigns by the UDC in reaction and opposition to other Northern names. There are good references at the bottom of the article to support this explanation, although I will have to admit that it was placed in the article prior to the recent frenzy on Wikipedia for in-line citations.

The current version of the section not only omits this interesting history and claims without verification that the term was used frequently during the war, but it has been reformatted into a bulleted list. Bulleted lists are rarely used in formal writing and I have seen a number of discussions in the context of featured article reviews that rejected articles making use of them. There is no requirement that Wikipedia articles be really, really short to maintain reader interest. Perhaps you are thinking of USA Today; I guess the bullets makes sense in that context. In an article like this one, the use of bold headings for the different names make it very simple for readers to skip from one section to another if they lose interest. And the article is not nearly long enough to warrant breaking it into sub articles.

I would like to propose that we return to a section similar in content and format to the one found in the article on August 15. I am bringing it up here in the Talk page to see whether I am completely wasting my time, because I do not wish to be nit picked with hundreds of edits as we have seen in the last month and a half. If I restore that version, I will do so with adequate in-line citations. Please make your views known below. Hal Jespersen 00:04, 6 October 2006 (UTC)

  • Support. For reasons stated. The October version deletes too much history and is poorly formatted. Hal Jespersen 00:04, 6 October 2006 (UTC)
  • Support. I agree that the earlier version seems of more value to the casual reader. Scott Mingus 13:42, 6 October 2006 (UTC)
  • Thanks for the constructive criticism. I did the edit in the expectation that others would jump on it and revise. (It says on every Edit page: If you don't want your writing to be edited mercilessly or redistributed by others, do not submit it. So by all means, work it over.) Seems like the War Between the States subsection should be balanced by one on War of the Rebellion, which ended up on the title page of the war's official records. War Between the States has had the most detail of any section, and is very interesting; OTOH I thought the passage was too stuffed with quotations, notably the one in which a judge quotes Queen Victoria's government. We should cut to the chase. I probably cut a little too close. -- Alarob 15:42, 6 October 2006 (UTC)

WBTS section; other names for the war

[Others, please continue brief comments in the list above.] There was nothing about Queen Victoria in the August 15 version I cited; it was part of the frenzy of editing after that. There are really only two enduring names for the war and it is unfortunate that this article has been turned into such a laundry list of every conceivable variation. Those two names, Civil War and War between the States, are the only ones recognizable by 99% of readers who are not period historians. (If there were popular media such as "War of Northern Aggression Magazine" or organizations named "War for States Rights Preservation Trust" or if people said "I am a War for Southern Independence reenactor", there might be a point in giving extra space to describing those names, but all of them have fallen by the wayside and almost none of them would be recognizable to the average reader as describing the American Civil War without further explanation. War of the Rebellion had a brief lifespan and became the title of a book, but has little relevance to current readers other than the trigger for the emergence of War between the States.) The story of how WbtS emerged is an interesting one, because it encapsulates the lingering resentments of the losing side. I cannot think of any other war that has retained multiple names for so long. Normally, history quickly focuses on a single name. It is only for that reason that this article was even written. Hal Jespersen 17:18, 6 October 2006 (UTC)

I agree with you about the pre-eminence of Civil War and War Between the States. I'm not ready to go the rest of the way, though. Some points:
    • Preference for a certain name is (usually) tied to the way one looks at the war. Once you get past CW and WBTS, the names are decidedly "Southern" or "Northern." Reviewing these names is a way of examining sectional attitudes and how they've changed.
    • Granted, this topic is also a temptation for hard-headed ideologues to try to make their beloved perspective on the war triumphant, while excluding or minimizing other views. I'm not accusing anyone, but I believe that's what created the earlier tension and bickering. (Not much assumption of good faith going on then.)
    • Now for the names: War of Rebellion is almost unheard of today, but had official status during and after the war. It ought to be mentioned. Its heyday was the "bloody shirt" era after the war. The same goes for vitriolic Southern favorites like War of Northern Aggression. (BTW I have heard that latter expression all my life in Ga., Fla., and Ala. -- but always used informally and often humorously. Still, it ain't dead.)
    • War for Southern Independence remains a favorite of some Southern historians. Personally I don't recommend the name, but believe we ought to reflect what's out there. Examples: A 1982 M.A. thesis at Auburn University. A 1992 book by Richard M. McMurry of North Carolina State. The McWhiney Research Foundation at McMurry University preserves its namesake's preference for the term.
    • We need some standard for what gets discussed, what merely gets listed, and what doesn't get in at all. Ideas for inclusion: Any one of the following:
      • It was used by a government in official docs.
      • It is used consistently, in capital letters, by more than one historian.
      • It's inscribed on a public monument.
Other names might get listed, but need not come in for analysis. I have already said my piece about the tendentious section on War for States' Rights. We need to fix that.
Let's see what we can do to make this a worthwhile article with a NPOV. It's the only reason I'm here. -- Alarob 21:26, 6 October 2006 (UTC)

I am not denying that some of these alternative names were used at all, but I am arguing that the amount of space in the article about them should be commensurate with their current usage first, and historic usage second. Your standard is okay, as long as the amount of attention is proportional to the amount of usage. I don't think a masters thesis is very significant, but if the term is used pervasively in many government documents, by many historians, and on many public monuments, it should get more attention. These quantities are all subjective of course, but I think the threshold needs to be greater than one, as you imply above. One of the funniest moments on TV for me was hearing Granny Clampett on the Beverly Hillbillies refer to "Sherman's Retreat to the Sea," but that does not mean that I included that alternative name in the Wikipedia article because of that one usage. Hal Jespersen 23:30, 6 October 2006 (UTC)

The M.A. thesis includes "War for Southern Independence" in its title, and was approved by a faculty committee of a major university history dept. R McMurry and G McWhiney are two historians with academic credentials and peer-reviewed publications who favor the term. They do not represent mainstream opinion, by any means, but I think they satisfy the criteria for inclusion. However, you and I probably agree that we need proof that the name was in circulation during the war itself. The idea of a struggle for independence is well attested; the name is not. It might be an invention of maverick Southern historians late in the 20th century. I'd like to know. -- Alarob 03:58, 8 October 2006 (UTC)

There was a book written by a German ambassador or representative who was an observer of the War and stayed with the Confederates. He used the term "War of/for Southern Independence".--Bedford 04:20, 8 October 2006 (UTC)

I can read German and would be interested in getting the title/author. It would be useful especially if the author were quoting Confederates' use of a name for the war. There's an important difference between saying "I consider this to be a war for Southern independence" and "People call this the War for Southern Independence." -- Alarob 15:48, 9 October 2006 (UTC)

War for Southern Independence

This is a contemporary term for the war and has been used in some academic work by Southern historians. I can provide details if requested, but remember usage by the late Dr. Grady McWhiney. I am unconvinced that the term was "popular" during the war itself, and would like to see evidence for the assertion. As for the claim that "to some Southerners" the term harks back to the "American War for Independence," I deleted it on these grounds: 1. Lack of clarity. Is the alleged resemblance ideological or merely syntactical? Is this meant to be poetic? Why do "some" Southerners perceive it, but not all? 2. No evidence. 3. Superfluity. Alarob 19:07, 20 September 2006 (UTC)

CITES HAVE NOW BEEN PROVIDED FOR "War for Southern Independence" and "War for States' Rights." Davis, Burke, The Civil War: Strange and Fascinating Facts, New York: The Fairfax Press, 1982. pp. 79-80.--Fix Bayonets! 21:30, 20 September 2006 (UTC)
And I hope the Charelston Mercury quote was of help.--Fix Bayonets! 14:12, 24 September 2006 (UTC)
I removed the quote from the Charleston Mercury, which is irrelevant here. Assuming it is dated correctly, it cannot be referring to the war, which began five months later. It might be referring to the first round of secession.
I agree that there is evidence that Confederates made comparisons of their struggle for independence with that of George Washington and the Continental Army. Isn't Washington's image on the reverse of the CSA seal? But this should not be stated after mentioning the re-emergence of the term in the late 20th century. It confuses the timeline and suggests that Confederates did not think this in the 1860s, but that present-day Southerners do. -- Alarob 23:58, 28 September 2006 (UTC)

I have added an additional reference, which clearly and unambiguously establishes both the use of the term as well as its link/relation to the War of Independence (1775-1783).--Fix Bayonets! 14:21, 14 October 2006 (UTC)

War of Northern Aggression

A term for the Mexican-American War? I found several references to Guerra de la Agresión Norteña as one of the names for the American Civil War. Only one reference linked it to the Mexican-American War, and it added the comment that the term is "more commonly used in the southern United States to refer to the American Civil War."[3] Spanish Wikipedia has nothing on the subject.

P.S. Bedford restored the passage and sourced it with a web page. It's the same page I saw in Spanish. I am concerned that we will be perpetuating a myth unless we find a better source than this. -- Alarob 03:50, 29 September 2006 (UTC)

While in graduate school, we saw a documentary about the Mexican-American War, and one of the Mexican PhD.s kept refering to it as such. If I could remember the name of the documentary. that would help? Would IMDB be of any help?--Bedford 03:57, 29 September 2006 (UTC)
All IMDB references to "War of Northern Aggression" pertain to our Civil War. It's possible that the Ph.D. coined the term himself. Personally, I think it's an appropriate name, but my opinion doesn't count. We need to establish that the name has been in circulation. Otherwise I would say it does not belong in an encyclopedia article. Let's take it out unless/until we find documentation that it is a recognized term in Mexico. -- Alarob 21:51, 2 October 2006 (UTC)
I tried emailing the professor, but the email bounced back, saying no such coutns now exists, so I guess that professor no longer works there. DO what you wish with it; anyone who is experienced with wikipedia knows to check talk pages to see the other info that may becontained but can't be on the main article page.--Bedford 22:01, 2 October 2006 (UTC)

Removed link on 10/3

I forgot to describe the edit (sorry) so will describe it here: I removed an external link to an article by Walter E. Williams titled "The Civil War was not about slavery." It was irrelevant to the subject of naming the Civil War. (The word "slavery" occurs nowhere else in the article.) -- Alarob 23:24, 3 October 2006 (UTC)

Gettysburg Address

I removed the reference to the Gettysburg Address in the section explaining the commonality of the term "Civil War." Without supporting evidence, it's a very poor example as it's not at all clear that Lincoln intended the term "civil" to be used as anything more than another adjective (and not the proper name of the conflict). Using the same statement, one could equally claim that he was labeling the conflict the "Great Civil War." And that's clearly not the case. Further, without a citation it's clearly original research which is an obvious no-no in Wikipedia. If the assertion that Lincoln used the term on several occassions and used it as the name of the conflict then I'm sure that a suitable source or two can be cited. --ElKevbo 22:39, 13 October 2006 (UTC)

Nonsense--the Gettysburg address is not original reearch it's common knowledge at the 8th grade level. The idea that Lincoln did NOT mean to use the word "civil war" when it appears in every text, seems to be original research--and rather pointless at that. Lincoln often used the term--for example in the 1863 annual message: " DECEMBER 8, 1863. Incidents occurring in the progress of our civil war have forced upon my attention the uncertain state of international questions touching...." and "It is easy to see that under the sharp discipline of civil war the nation is beginning a new life." all in standard editions of Lincoln. Rjensen 01:12, 14 October 2006 (UTC)

It is my opinion that ElKevbo's point regarding Lincoln's use of the term "civil" as an adjective is quite valid. Had the Whiskey Rebellion escalated into serious armed conflict, perhaps similar references would be extant regarding same. The "adjective argument" seems logically applicable to both viewpoints. There is also the issue of weight. Is it of any more value that one term was used by a politician, as opposed to a combatant? In such an instance, while it might seem proper to prefer one term over the other because of the notoriety of the person in question, to do so would nonetheless be logically fallacious [argumentum ad verecundiam]. Similarly, it is improper to prefer one term over the other because of frequency of use or popularity: to do so would be logically fallacious [argumentum ad numerum]. Nonetheless, I agree that there should be a rational correlation between sub-section content/length, on the one hand; and historicity of use, on the other. It is my opinion that sub-section content/length should be commensurate with such term's usage, past or present, as modified by the space necessary to explain the origin of, and reasoning underlying, such usage--Black Flag 01:58, 14 October 2006 (UTC)

Lincoln used it a lot:

Ray Basler ed. Abraham Lincoln: His Speeches and Writings 1946.

  • 1st Inaugural (1861) p 588: In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow countrymen, and not in

mine, is the momentous issue of civil war.

  • p 610 PROCLAMATION OF A NATIONAL FAST-DAY AUGUST 12, 1861 "And whereas, when our own beloved Country, once, by the

blessing of God, united, prosperous and happy, is now afflicted with faction and civil war, it is peculiarly fit for us to recognize the hand of God in this terrible visitation"


"In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity..."


"the great trial of civil war into which we have been brought by our adherence as a nation to the cause of Freedom and Humanity,"


"the steady expansion of population, improvement and governmental institutions over the new and unoccupied portions of our country have scarcely been checked, much less impeded or destroyed, by our great civil war, which at first glance would seem to have absorbed almost the entire energies of the nation."Rjensen 02:11, 14 October 2006 (UTC)

That's all very nice but do any scholars state that he meant the term to be used as a proper noun? For us to state that he did so is still original research. It was certainly a civil war but was it a Civil War? --ElKevbo 04:39, 14 October 2006 (UTC)

This article and its talk page are really getting out of hand. (As an aside, would people please refrain from rearranging the text in the file; it makes it extremely difficult to find recent changes when the entire file shows up as a diff.) This reminds me of the arguments about how many angels can fit on the head of a pin. It is a great illustration of the principal that the most heat is generated about arguments of the least significance. (I do not happen to have a copy of the Encyclopedia Britannica, our prototype for this work, at hand, but I bet if you went to find an article about the various names of the Civil War, you would not find any entry because scholars worldwide do not consider it a serious subject for analysis.)

These arguments about Lincoln's meaning in the Gettysburg Address are an example of people who do not believe Occam's Razor. Although it is theoretically possible that Lincoln meant to separate the compound noun "civil war," the possibility is vanishingly small. (The only combination of separable adjective and noun that I can imagine in this case would be that he meant a war that was being fought in a "civil" manner, which is obviously not the case.)

As to original research, it is theoretically true that citing the text of a primary source (a speech, interview, letter, memoir, etc.) is not considered the optimum means of populating a Wikipedia article; what we should have is a quotation from a reputable historian -- a secondary source -- that says something to the effect of "Lincoln's use of the term 'civil war' in the Gettysburg Address is evidence that the term 'civil war' was used during the war itself," but the statement is so obvious that I believe it will be impossible to find such a secondary source. Why would any historian bother to write that? Therefore, I believe it is perfectly reasonable to include that bit of primary sourcing and draw the obvious conclusion in the article. A citation for the Gettysburg Address should not be required because we are linking directly to the Wikipedia article on the subject, which includes the full text of the address.

On the other hand, some of the proponents of omitting this primary source are themselves guilty of including numerous primary sources, such as the uninterpreted text of Supreme Court judgments, songs, and letters from soldiers and politicians. The philosophy of Wikipedia is for us to report the judgments of professional historians who read those primary sources in complete context, not for us to quote snippets and draw our own conclusions. It is unfortunately difficult for us to do that in this case because the subject is so trivial that it has had little serious academic treatment. Hal Jespersen 19:42, 14 October 2006 (UTC)

[regarding Hlj statement "The philosophy of Wikipedia is for us to report the judgments of professional historians who read those primary sources in complete context, not for us to quote snippets and draw our own conclusions. It is unfortunately difficult for us to do that in this case because the subject is so trivial that it has had little serious academic treatment."]:

Agreed. Under such circumstances, all we can do is present documentable usages, with appropriate cross-reference(s) to other historical data. As to the issue of triviality, I agree that there are other ACW articles which we could and should be working on, instead of wasting time on this issue. However, because certain editors (excluding yourself) make extraordinary claims (e.g., usage of terms "War for Independence," "...States' Rights," etc., are "not historical" and are merely the inventions of "partisans of a particular point of view"), such extraordinary claims require response.--Fix Bayonets! 22:12, 14 October 2006 (UTC)


I think we are forming a consensus about this article.

  • It nitpicks. It belabors the obvious.
  • It's too long. (OK, maybe we don't all think it's too long.)
  • And it makes inappropriate use of primary sources. Sometimes highly selective use.

FWIW here's my assessment of some of the subsections:

  • War for State's Rights is weak and ought to be deleted. It is one term among many, and belongs in a list, not at the head of a subsection.
STRONGLY OPPOSE.--Black Flag 16:43, 30 October 2006 (UTC)
VEHEMENTLY OPPOSED I oppose any attempt to delete, marginalize, or reduce.--Fix Bayonets! 21:17, 30 October 2006 (UTC)
Support. Although the current article gives a few instances of the expression "states' rights", it offers no evidence that it was ever used as a name for the war. Everyone acknowledges that some Southerners were fighting for the concept of states' rights, but that does not mean that the term is ever used as a name for the war that would be recognized without further explanation. Otherwise, we would hear instances of "My uncle Billy was killed in the War for States' Rights," "Bobby is spending this weekend with his War for States' Rights reenactor friends," "I got a subscription to War for States' Rights magazine." This term belongs in a list with other descriptive phrases, but does not deserve a lengthy explanation as a name for the war, because it is not one today and there is no evidence from secondary sources that it ever was one. Hal Jespersen 21:46, 30 October 2006 (UTC)
Support All caps, bold and various colors of response notwithstanding, I see no reference to this phrase in any of the standard sources. I challenge those who oppose to provide documentation that ANY major historian used this phrase as a primary term in the 19th century. Undue weight requires this is (if a section) a small section max. BusterD 00:57, 31 October 2006 (UTC)

<<re: "does not deserve a lengthy explanation...">> I believe that the WFSR section #$@$ sure deserves the content it presently contains.--Fix Bayonets! 22:07, 30 October 2006 (UTC)

  • War for Southern Independence has been in use by some scholars, and ought to remain a subsection. It would be of interest to know more of the term's history. Can we trace it back to the 1860s? Probably not, but when did it come into vogue? Can we find out without doing original research? (Historian Grady McWhiney must have written something about why he adopted the name.)
  • War of the Rebellion deserves a subsection. After all, it's in the title of the Official Records. Does anyone use it anymore?
I also wonder why the title used by the publishers of the "Official Record" was not in this article until recently. Seems official, pretty well documented (far better than "...State's Rights") BusterD 01:00, 31 October 2006 (UTC)
  • War of Northern Aggression deserves its subsection. Can we find out who coined that one?
  • Should we organize names by region? -- "Northern" and "Southern" terms?
  • Would it be worthwhile to include a list like the one at this link[4]?

The subject of naming the war deserves the attention we're giving it, and this editing process has turned up some interesting material. The question is, can we work together? Can we remove one-shot quotes of soldiers and banners without starting a revert war?

These are fair questions. I hope the answer is yes. I also hope y'all will weigh in on these suggestions. -- Alarob 23:49, 18 October 2006 (UTC)

I like the idea of a list or a brief explanation of the various terms that do not deserve their own full subsection. The ones that are more common should remain as sections. Scott Mingus 00:19, 19 October 2006 (UTC)
I find the list interesting, particularly considering the source. I'd like to see such a comprehensive list, then appropriate weight given to most important terms. BusterD 01:00, 31 October 2006 (UTC)
BusterD, this makes so much sense to me. If you scour the primary sources, as well as period newspapers, there are many titles / names given to the war, and there are quite a few regional differences. In my home area (southern Ohio), a lot of the letters and diaries refer to the War of the Rebellion, which seems to have been a very common phrase, more so even than the Civil War. Where I now live (south central PA), the Civil War is more common in old writings. Likewise, there is support in certain areas of the South for other phrases, including the common War Between the States. While not wanting to trivialize the name of this horrific conflict that saw dozens of my and my wife's ancestors directly involved, it seems like the 21st Century minds should be able to come up with a decent compromise without a revert war. Scott Mingus 13:50, 31 October 2006 (UTC)

OK, it's been eleven days and only one positive comment, no negative. I'm going to proceed gradually on the assumption that these suggestions are non-controversial. -- Alarob 21:07, 29 October 2006 (UTC)

Although you might be inclined to make such an assumption, you would be wrong in so doing.--Black Flag 16:43, 30 October 2006 (UTC)

Look, all I'm trying to do is encourage a meeting of minds. I appreciate and welcome your contribution, and encourage you and Fix Bayonets! to expand upon it. You seem convinced of the historical significance of the name as being greater than that of other names. Please provide the evidence, so I can be convinced also. -- Alarob 22:23, 30 October 2006 (UTC)

More about state's rights

The late Harvard historian William E. Gienapp (in his sourcebook The Civil War and Reconstruction: A Documentary Collection (W.W. Norton, 2001) ISBN 039397555X) discusses the idea of a "war for state's rights" as originating after the war among ex-Confederate leaders and writers. The same writers during the war spoke of Southern independence and the defense of Southern institutions and Southern civilization -- concepts closely linked to slavery, although not identical with it. Whenever state's rights were invoked, it was in the context of mounting a defense of these Southern institutions.

After the war, even though most whites (North and South) continued to oppose any form of racial equality and to assume their own racial superiority, public opinion even in the South had turned decidedly against slavery. Ex-Confederates accepted this state of affairs and emphasized those elements of their cause that could appeal to a post-war audience. One of these was concern about the greatly increased power of the federal government, which had grown more assertive during the war. "State's rights" was not a new-made issue; it caused South Carolina to face off against President Andrew Jackson in 1830-32. But it was not as important to Confederates during the war as it became after the war.

So it is no wonder that the name or phrase "war for state's rights" only appears in postwar memoirs. This is not a reason for denying it a subsection. But if we continue to imply that this was a name used during the war, we will be guilty of misleading readers. Given that we have located only one use of the name "War for State's Rights" before 1900 (by Baylis), plus one use of the phrase, without capitals (by Watkins), I once again recommend deleting the subsection and placing "War for State's Rights" among the Other names for the war.

In the absence of countervailing evidence (which has been sought over the past several months, but not found), I will go ahead with the change sometime in the next 24 hours. I would like to also improve the Other names section, using ideas that have been tossed around on this page. -- Rob C (Alarob) 02:50, 2 November 2006 (UTC)

Oppose. There are plenty of pre-War and War era documents that solidly support the notion that Southerners viewed the war as a States' Rights issue. The "fact" that you've found a Harvard professor that suggests otherwise is hardly adequate grounds for your argument. Or did we just imagine that John C. Calhoun preached the doctrine of nullification? Furthermore, you suggest Watkins and other soldiers use of the term 'WFSR' is anecdotal. Lincoln's use of the term "civil war" (Gettysburg) was anecdotal as well. And Lincoln's term was preceded by an indefinite article. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to understand the significance of Lincoln's failure to use a definite article in his famous "glad I wasn't defeated on Tuesday" Gettysburg speech.--Fix Bayonets! 17:09, 2 November 2006 (UTC)
1. We can disagree on the validity of Gienapp's interpretation. The question is what Southerners called the war. It has nothing to do with Calhoun, who died 11 years before the war began. 2. I agree that Lincoln's use of (lower-case) "civil war" is irrelevant to this article and need not be mentioned. One step at a time. For the same reason, the Watkins quotes are irrelevant here (although it is an excellent memoir and valuable to read). 3. I am not a rocket scientist. Maybe that's why I don't get the part about Lincoln and the definite article. Are you suggesting that the war should not be called "the" Civil War? -- Rob C (Alarob) 22:30, 2 November 2006 (UTC)

P.S. I have not forgotten that User: Fix Bayonets! has pointed to a primary source in support of the name "War for State's Rights." It is a popular song titled "South Carolina." I have these questions about the source:

  • Does it date from 1861-1865?
  • Does it use the name "War for State's Rights" or just the phrase? Or just the phrase "state's rights"?
  • If the song does use the name, is it sufficient evidence that the name was in widespread use?

I cannot easily get a copy of the book, as the nearest copy is in the next state. More information about this source might be helpful to all of us. -- Rob C (Alarob) 03:07, 2 November 2006 (UTC)

Still waiting. -- Rob C (Alarob) 22:30, 2 November 2006 (UTC)

War for State's Rights has been demoted after being granted a generous grace period. Please note that the name is still in the article under Other names for the war. As always, if any substantive cause can be shown for promoting it again, I am eager to see it. -- Rob C (Alarob) 23:53, 6 November 2006 (UTC)

You blanked the entire WFSR section, which included historical references. You did so without consensus, in violation of WP:CON. I restored it, and respectfully request that before your blank this section again, that we use informal mediation to resolve this issue. Just because you disagree with this subsection does not give you adequate reasons for blanking it in its entirety.--Fix Bayonets! 01:37, 7 November 2006 (UTC)
He actually moved the subsection into a member of a list of other terms. Since none of the historical references were relevant to the subject of the article (the name of the war, versus adjectives that describe the war or the anecdotal motivations of people who fought the war), I do not believe the article is any worse for this change. Alarob asked for citations regarding the name of the war, received none, waited patiently, and achieved consensus by the silence of those who could not provide the relevant citations. I support his modification. Hal Jespersen 02:54, 7 November 2006 (UTC)

I must say, F.B.!, this is exactly what I expected you to do. I have been imploring you to discuss this matter with me, but received no feedback, either here or on my Talk page. If you want to arrange informal mediation, I am more than willing. In the meantime, I shall once again delete the subsection, as I consider the consensus to be in favor of doing so. -- Rob C (Alarob) 02:53, 7 November 2006 (UTC)

No, you and Hlj are both mistaken. I had provided 5 references: 3 primary and 2 secondary. You apparently hold the position that the 5 references are not acceptable. I and others have disagreed. I want you to demonstrate how exactly it is that you have consensus. --Fix Bayonets! 02:58, 7 November 2006 (UTC)

My concerns have been spelled out in almost painful detail in sections above, as well as this one. In the past, I tried to work with you, F.B.!, to keep the section but reduce its argumentativeness and establish NPOV. The only part that was acceptable to you was the sentence, In a similar vein, the war has been called The War for Southern Rights, The War to Suppress Yankee Arrogance, and even War of the Abolition Party Against the Principles of the Constitution of the United States.

Before entering into extended dialogue on these issues again, I would prefer some assurance that you are actually committed to establishing NPOV. You spoke of "informal mediation." I want to know that this is not merely a pretext for loading the article with bias and then subjecting it to an endless round of deliberations, until other editors get fed up and leave. -- Rob C (Alarob) 03:11, 7 November 2006 (UTC)

It is my opinion that your edits to the "War Between the States" section were good, in general. However, with respect to your edits to the "War for States' Rights" section, I believe that the primary source references/citations should remain. I think we can all agree that primary sources are a crucial foundation of historical evidence. By inclusion, Wikipedia readers can draw their own conclusions from the evidence presented. For this reason, unless their is clear consensus to the contrary, I am restoring the primary quotes and citations, without inclusion of any conclusions or further comments regarding same. In order to do so, I had to restore the subsection... though I left it demoted to the last entry. I believe that such treatment is an equitable remedy. --Black Flag 17:10, 7 November 2006 (UTC)

I appreciate the courteous and thoughtful tone of your comment. Some WP guidelines stress reliance on reliable secondary sources, but I think history is often a different case, and primary sources are appropriate. Primary sources can be distorted, or used out of context, but they should not be ruled out entirely. (See also Wikipedia:Reliable sources#History.)

I have these specific concerns about Baylis and Watkins as primary sources for the use of "War for State's Rights" as a name for the war:

  • Baylis also uses the name "War for Southern Rights," with at least as much prominence as "War for State's Rights." (The former occurs at the beginning of his short memoir; the latter at the end.) Why do we emphasize one over the other?
  • Watkins does not use the name "War for State's Rights." His phrase is "the banner of State rights." Earlier he refers to "the war of secession, rebellion, state rights, slavery, or our rights in the territories, or by whatever other name it may be called." Should we give equal prominence to all of these terms?

Perhaps a case could be made for discussing this name at greater length than the others that we merely list. I'm just not satisfied, from the evidence, that this was ever a name that was in widespread use.

Another concern is the implication that this was a name used during the war itself. These sources were both written by veterans, years after the war. Watkins published his memoir in the local newspaper in 1880, and later as a book. I don't know the date of Baylis's memoir, but it may have been much later. Baylis was a boy cadet during the war, and may not have written the memoir until late in life.

We should try to establish the name's history if we are going to discuss it at any length. Since reading William E. Gienapp's observation last week, I suspect that we will not be able to find a use of "War for State's Rights" from 1861-1865, or even much talk about "state's rights." So it should be made clear that this is a postwar term. If possible, we should try to find someone who champions its use (as with "War Between the States"). Otherwise it's just a minor name.

I won't revert your change, as long as we have a discussion going. But I would like to see some kind of resolution of this issue. This is not diplomacy, or a deal struck between interest groups, so I don't think "equity" is an appropriate goal to strive for. We are trying to arrive at the truth and write an authoritative article. -- Rob C (Alarob) 22:54, 7 November 2006 (UTC)

(Cue: crickets chirping.)

As this discussion seems to be going nowhere, I have deleted the subsection again. I trust that no one will find it necessary to restore it without addressing the concerns that have been raised more than once. -- Rob C (Alarob) 18:32, 8 November 2006 (UTC)

Straying off topic

The closing sections of this article stray from the topic of naming the war. I believe at least one additional article (on naming battles, and another on naming of military units and combatants) could be generated.

These sections do not contain information that a reader could reasonably expect to find under the title "Naming the American Civil War." Should the information be merged with existing articles, or should new ones be started? -- Rob C (Alarob) 19:02, 6 November 2006 (UTC)

The section on naming of battles fits well enough because it shares a common theme -- lingering resentments on the two sides prevent a common name from achieving 100% acceptance. In one case, it is a war, in the other it is a series of major battles. I doubt that creating yet another article will be very useful for the average reader. (If this section is really unacceptable here, it could make its home in Battles of the American Civil War.) As to naming the combatants, the justification to keep it here is less compelling, but this is another instance of an article that would be too trivial to maintain a separate existence. The material was originally in American Civil War and it was moved here to make the main article a bit more manageable. If it is really unacceptable here, it should be moved back into the main article, not separated into its own. Hal Jespersen 19:25, 6 November 2006 (UTC)

OK. -- Rob C (Alarob)

Defining a civil war

The second paragraph (on how political scientists define a civil war) seems likely to confuse readers, and strikes me personally as pedantic. Can we find some clearer, but still neutral way of stating that some people do not agree that this was, strictly speaking, a "civil war"? For that matter, there is disagreement on whether it is really more properly described as a war over "a secession movement," as the passage now states.

I agree that this should be dealt with briefly and near the beginning. -- Rob C (Alarob) 22:08, 11 February 2007 (UTC)

An anonymous user deleted the passage and was reverted. I support the removal and have repeated it. I would welcome a discussion here. -- Rob C (Alarob) 21:14, 23 February 2007 (UTC)
Is it possible to retrieve the deleted passage? Perhaps it could simply be rewritten, and reinserted appropriately.Historian932 (talk) 15:21, 17 June 2008 (UTC)

War of Northern Aggression

Moved anonymous comment from article to here: (Hal Jespersen 02:40, 6 March 2007 (UTC))

Please keep ths focus of the discussion on the article, not on historiographical issues. This is not the place for dueling opinions about the Civil War. -- Rob C (Alarob) 14:40, 6 July 2007 (UTC)
Indeed. I have seen on other talk pages where editors' comments that were deemed irrelevant to the improvement of the article were deleted; the same seems appropriate here, and I have done so. Unschool 08:41, 25 August 2007 (UTC)

An anonymous user deleted the sentence in this section about Fort Sumter. FWIW I support the deletion, as the sentence read like special pleading or point-scoring. -- Rob C (Alarob) 01:08, 8 March 2007 (UTC)

The comment that this is an isolated term not widely used is incorrect. It's a common term in the South, and much more recognizable than "The War Between the States" (a northern term). Can we get a more accurate description and move it up top, rather than a definite bias. To be more accurate, either move ALL alternate names down or bring this one up. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:54, 22 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Well, it is commonly heard in Texas, but not from any scholarly source or even the public schools I went to. "War Between the States" I have heard on a level just under that of "Civil War" itself. -BaronGrackle 16:31, 22 October 2007 (UTC)

Under the header for this term the article currently provides no origin or history of usage, only a theoretical justification for its use ("... a name which emphasizes the opinion that..."). Can anyone add documented discussion of when & where first used, in what context, and how frequently in various contexts since then? (talk) 23:55, 19 April 2008 (UTC)

Has anyone ever seen "War of Northern Aggression" used seriously? Can someone cite a book title, or a point to a photo of a war monument where it's used? Should the paragraph call it's usage a joke, or ironic or semi-serious or something? (talk) 03:44, 19 May 2008 (UTC)
The term is definitely no joke. Some of my mother's male ancestors have engraved on their tombstones, "Fought in the War of Northern Aggression". From the Southern POV, it's an accurate title but hardly encyclopedic.--jeanne (talk) 14:58, 11 September 2008 (UTC)
Oh come on, of course the term 'War of Northern Aggression' is a joke. Sure, sure let's be nice about it and let Southerners have their unjustified outrage. But seriously, the Confederacy itself was a joke, a tragic joke, but a joke nonetheless. As it turns out, apparently having cotton as a principal source of income is worthless when you have no one to sell the cotton to. Also a group of states, that lacked industrial capacity or any legitimate means of making money, firing on a fort without provocation is apparently a bad idea. Either way any objective person can see who was in the right and who was merely foolish on this deal and the term doesn't deserve any more attention than it's already getting. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:59, 9 October 2008 (UTC)
All the anonymous hot air aside, the War of Northern Aggression is a term that has been used for decades, is published as a term mentioned by historians, and a simple search at Google will give you about 46,700 hits. As far as your view that the Southern states were a joke ... well ... it was exactly that same self-pious attitude that was a leading cause of the war, in which a whole culture and region felt they had enough, and would rather die fighting such an insulting group of people than to simply take it. Mr. Baldwin explains it best on what people will do when they've had enough of being insulted:

The moment it appeared beyond question that the people of the North, without distinction of party, were clamorous for a war of invasion and subjugation against us, our people accepted disunion as a fixed and irrevocable fact, and we stand this day a united people, ready with one mind and one voice, with one heart and one arm to make good the eternal separation which we have declared.

The issue of peace or war is in the hands of the North. We only ask to be let alone, and to be allowed to consult our interest and our safety in peace. If this is denied to us, mark the prediction, we will give you a fight which will stand out upon the page of history an example for all time of the determination with which a people can make war when they are conscious of having exhausted all honorable means of pacification. Augusta County: John B. Baldwin to George M. Cochran, May 12, 1861. News Clipping, John Hartwell Cocke. Papers, Accession #640, University of Virginia Library, Charlottesville, Virginia.

— John B. Baldwin

Representative for Augusta County, Virginia to the Confederate Congress.

Colonel of the 52nd Virginia Infantry and Colonel of the Augusta Reserves.
It is also interesting to note that if you have any doubts as to the continued existence of this culture, examine the "red" states of national election maps, and compare them to the map of the whole Confederacy with its border states and western territories. The "split" in our nation is alive and well. The ironic thing is that the party name has swapped. What has not changed is that the one side tends to be insulting continuously. Good day.Grayghost01 (talk) 16:13, 14 October 2008 (UTC)
You're right that one thing hasn't changed: the South is built on a culture of racism. The cause of the war was not Northerners "insulting" Southerners. It was Southerners being afraid they'd lose the ability to own black people as slaves. The reality is that this was the War of Southern Aggression. (talk) 16:23, 7 November 2010 (UTC)

For the gentleman unfamiliar with basic Civil War history:

  • Shipman, Derrick, The War of Northern Aggression in Western North Carolina, BookSurge Publishing, 2003. ISBN 1588988732

Another recent publication is Red Republicans and Lincoln's Marxists: Marxism in the Civil War. It covers the fascinating history of how Lincoln was a big fan among Marxists, with his refutation of State's Rights and federalization of things (like the railroads) and etc. About two seconds on Google will show 51,000 hits for that name of the war. Technically speaking it was a War Between the States. A "civil" war is one fought among partisans when one central government is involved. In this case, independence movements spawned the creation of governments, bodies of law, post offices, standing armies, and congresses. It was harly a "civil" war in the strict definition of the term. Therefore "War Between the States" is the most true-to-form title for the war. Many of the veterans of the war called it by that name.Grayghost01 (talk) 23:56, 14 September 2008 (UTC)

"War of Northern Aggression", used by some white Southerners... This is racist and the author should be banned from making such statements. And just for the record not all Southerners who use this term are white. This statement negates for me the veracity and effectiveness for anything else written in wikipedia. It is an insult to history and the readers of this article. This is why Wikipedia will NEVER be a viable source.