"War of Northern Agression" v. "Slaveholders' Rebellion"-Only one is historically correct

Pat Young

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#1
I did a Google Ngram search for the terms "War of Northern Aggression" and "Slaveholders' Rebellion" to see which was more commonly used in books at the time of the American Civil War and during the years immediately afterward. One is modern, the other was used 150 years ago. Here is what I found:

slaveholders rebellion2.JPG
 

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#3
There is a spike in usage in the 1880's. I think the view at that time was that the Civil War had been an attempt to not only preserve slavery, but prevent a populist revolt in the middle eight states that permitted slavery. The populist revolt would have been in favor of the elements in the Midwest that were creating rapid growth. Schools, churches, railroads that paid their bonds, honest currency, stable banks, and much more participatory democracy.
 

Pat Young

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#7
Checking a news archive-

"War of Northern Aggression" appears only a few times during 1861-65.

"Northern Aggression" appears hundreds of times during the same period
The op is not looking for times writers charged that there was "northern aggression" or "southern aggression", but what people at the time called the war. Most of the time, I see the war referred to as variations on "The War Between the States", "The Civil War," or "The Rebellion". It is sometimes called "The Slaveholders' Rebellion" and (almost?) never called "The War of Northern Aggression." Also, if the Ngram is any indication, it does not look like people before the Civil War were calling the American Revolution the "Slaveholders' Rebellion."
 

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#9
Edit: Harpers History of The Great Rebellion, Of The Civil War, and within it calls both north and south "Uprising".
Lubliner.
Edit: I have never heard the term, 'slave-holders' rebellion'.
As the Ngram demonstrates, calling the war The Slaveholders' Rebellion pretty much died with the participants. After 1900 it was rarely used. I think this reflect the move towards a reconciliationist view of the war by whites of the generation that was born after its conclusion.
 

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#11
Edit: Harpers History of The Great Rebellion, Of The Civil War, and within it calls both north and south "Uprising".
It is interesting that when you read newspapers and books from the 1860s-1890s there is a lot of diversity in what the Civil War is called.

I grew up with the terms "Vietnam War" and "World War II" as definitive terms, even though I was only born 12 years after the end of WWII and lived during the Vietnam War. Of course there were some who referred to the Vietnam Police Action, but that was always seen as an attempt to evade the reality of the war.

In more modern times, if we think of the wars since 1989, there is still a lot of diversity in what they are called.
 
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#12
It is interesting that when you read newspapers and books from the 1860s-1890s there is a lot of diversity in what the Civil War is called.

I grew up with the terms "Vietnam War" and "World War II" as definitive terms, even though I was only born 12 years after the end of WWII and lived during the Vietnam War. Of course there were some who referred to the Vietnam Police Action, but that was always seen as an attempt to evade the reality of the war.

In more modern times, if we think of the wars since 1989, there is still a lot of diversity in what they are called.
That is very true, @Pat Young. It seems the status of the war at the outset was descriptive, and rarely assigned by a name. Also, the difference in naming armies and battles both North and South can be noted, each to their own calling. I believe it helped lessen confusion at the time, but in later years, the idea was to soften impact; but lately a turn on severity has materialized. I am hoping it evolves into a less vehement approach. Thanks,
Lubliner.
 

Pat Young

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#14
How often was it called "The War of the Rebellion?"
If you look at this ngram you will see that the name "War of the Rebellion" was much more common than "War Between the States" during the war and immediately after, then War of the Rebellion faded as the war generations died off. War Between the States seems to have become popular around the time Gone With the Wind was released when every white person got misty eyed about the Confederacy.

war between the states.JPG
 

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#15
Sometimes folks ask me how often the war of 1861-1865 is called the "Civil War" and that is not really determinable with the Ngram. That is because a lot of wars were called "The Civil War" in books that took place in many other countries. If you search for "American Civil War" you get a lot of hits, but even so, that is likely an undercount. Most battle books will refer to the "Civil War", not the "American Civil War." However, here is an Ngram on this:

war between american civil war.JPG
 

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#16
If we look only at the 1860s, we can see what the war was called while its name was still in the air. Again, I think that the number of books referring to it as "The Civil War" was way higher.

1860s civil war.JPG

Also, remember, this only searches for mentions in books. Also, I see the war often referred to as "The Rebellion". It would be impossible to get an accurate ngram fix on how often that term was used as the name of the war.
 

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#18
Here you can see that while people alive during the Civil War were likely familiar with the term Slaveholders' Rebellion, Revisionism in the 20th Century made War of Northern Aggression and more popular.
slaveholders3.JPG
 



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