When did the Civil War officially be named the Civil war

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CTH

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At the time it started, it was simply called a rebellion, and for a few years after, it was still referred to as the Great Rebellion, or the War of the Rebellion. So when did put start calling it "The Civil War"?
 

Mark F. Jenkins

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AFAIK, it still has no "official" name other than "The War of the Rebellion," judging from the title of the Official Records.

It was already being called a "civil war" even before it really began, however. To the classically-educated of the time, the name would have been almost automatic (as a reference back to the "civil wars" of Rome).
 

Carronade

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As I've said before, I think it's a poor choice of name, though I suppose we're stuck with it. A civil war like the Roman or English is a war between factions within a country for control of the entire country. "War for Independence" would be perfectly accurate, or "War of Independence" if it had succeeded.

IMO "American Revolution" is also the wrong term for our war of independence.
 
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Mark F. Jenkins

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As soon as Lincoln called it a "civil war" in the Gettysburg Address, I think that pretty much firmly affixed the name. (At least in retrospect. He wasn't attempting to label it at the time.)
 

AndyHall

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@CTH, a quick look at newspapers in South Carolina turns up the term "civil war" being applied to the prospect of armed conflict between South Carolina and the national government even before that state seceded.

One line stood out for me, from an item recounting a debate over secession. Charleston Mercury, November 10, 1860, p. 1:

[State Rep. Gray] preferred the latter, because it was justified before the world; it was the doctrine advocated by Calhoun and McDuffie, and recognized by De Toqueville. Prudence declared for speedy action, to arm, and to own a revolution was but successful civil war.

Shorter: only successful rebellions are recognized as revolutions.
 

Nothingfaced

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Interesting topic huh?

Especially because the conflict itself wasn't a "civil war" anyway.
 
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Mark F. Jenkins

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Interesting topic huh?

Especially because the conflict itself wasn't a "civil war" anyway.
Problematic... it's a matter of definition. By strict denotation, a "civil war" is a war between cities... but in the old Roman sense, the civis (maybe should be civitas? Not as up on my Latin as I'd like to be) was something more than what we'd call a city-- more like the Greek polis, a city-state. In that sense, "Civil War" and "War Between the States" mean exactly the same thing.
 
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AndyHall

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The real problem here is that the English language, as spoken and written, doesn't always evolve in a precisely logical and orderly way. Maybe we should chuck it all and go for Esperanto.
 

Nothingfaced

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Problematic... it's a matter of definition. By strict denotation, a "civil war" is a war between cities... but in the old Roman sense, the civis was something more than what we'd call a city-- more like the Greek polis, a city-state. In that sense, "Civil War" and "War Between the States" mean exactly the same thing.
It was a conflict of secession. Conflict between bloody Republicans and the elite Southern slave-holding class.
 
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Mark F. Jenkins

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The real problem here is that the English language, as spoken and written, doesn't always evolve in a precisely logical and orderly way. Maybe we should chuck it all and go for Esperanto.
Maybe... but I think we'd be exchanging one set of problems for another. The main issue is that peoples' thoughts don't evolve in a precisely logical and orderly way, either. :D
 
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Carronade

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A revolution - think French or Russian - is also an attempt within a country to establish a new regime over the entire country. A war of independence by contrast makes no attempt to change the government of the larger entity - like the United States or the British empire - simply to separate from it. Indeed the new nation often retains a system of government similar to the original, like the CSA or to a large extent the new United States.

"Rebellion" can cover almost anything; it may be no more than people not wanting to pay taxes on whiskey :wink:
 
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ForeverFree

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Some thoughts on the subject

(1) From my dictionary application:

uprising - noun: an act of resistance or rebellion; a revolt : an armed uprising.

THE RIGHT WORD: There are a number of ways to defy the established order or overthrow a government.

You can stage an uprising, which is a broad term referring to a small and usually unsuccessful act of popular resistance.

An uprising is often the first sign of a general or widespread rebellion, which is an act of armed resistance against a government or authority; this term is usually applied after the fact to describe an act of resistance that has failed (eg, a rebellion against the landowners).

If it is successful, however, a rebellion may become a revolution, which often implies a war or an outbreak of violence (eg, the American Revolution). Although a revolution usually involves the overthrow of a government or political system by the people, it can also be used to describe any drastic change in ideas, economic institutions, or moral values (eg, the sexual revolution).

An insurrection is an organized effort to seize power, especially political power, while an insurgency is usually aided by foreign powers.

If you're on a ship, you can stage a mutiny, which is an insurrection against military or naval authority.

But if you're relying on speed and surprise to catch the authorities off guard, you'll want to stage a putsch, which is a small, popular uprising or planned attempt to seize power.​

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(2) The American Revolution took place during the so-called "Age of Revolution." As noted in wiki,

The Age of Revolution is the period from approximately 1775 to 1848 in which a number of significant revolutionary movements occurred in many parts of Europe and the Americas. The period is noted for the change in government from absolutist monarchies to constitutionalist states and republics. The Age of Revolution includes the American Revolution, the French Revolution, the Haitian Revolution, the Greek Revolution, the revolt of the slaves in Latin America, and the independence movements of nations in Latin America. The period would generally weaken the imperialist European states, who would lose major assets throughout the New World. For the British, the loss of the Thirteen Colonies would bring a change in direction for the British Empire, with Asia and the Pacific becoming new targets for outward expansion.​

The Declaration of Independence articulated what, by the 1800s, was called (in America, at least) the "right of revolution," the idea that associations with a government can be "dissolved" whenever the "Government" becomes destructive of the ends and rights of Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Alexander Stephens, the VP of the CSA, said that the Confederacy was engaged in a revolution during his Cornerstone speech. But not everyone in the Confederacy shared this use of language; perhaps Jefferson Davis was one of those who did not want the term "revolution" to be used? Even so, the slave state secessionists, or at least some of them, were aware that they were living in an age of revolutions where people were claiming independence from their governments.

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(3) Note this language from the DofI:

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.​

Now note the following from the secession declarations of several Confederate States:

Georgia: "The people of Georgia having dissolved their political connection with the Government of the United States of America, present to their confederates and the world the causes which have led to the separation. For the last ten years we have had numerous and serious causes of complaint against our non-slave-holding confederate States with reference to the subject of African slavery."

Mississippi: "In the momentous step which our State has taken of dissolving its connection with the government of which we so long formed a part, it is but just that we should declare the prominent reasons which have induced our course. Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery-- the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth."

Texas: "For these and other reasons, solemnly asserting that the federal constitution has been violated and virtually abrogated by the several States named, seeing that the federal government is now passing under the control of our enemies to be diverted from the exalted objects of its creation to those of oppression and wrong, and realizing that our own State can no longer look for protection, but to God and her own sons-- We the delegates of the people of Texas, in Convention assembled, have passed an ordinance dissolving all political connection with the government of the United States of America and the people thereof and confidently appeal to the intelligence and patriotism of the freemen of Texas to ratify the same at the ballot box, on the 23rd day of the present month."​

These states talk in terms of "dissolving" the connection of the states to the federal government, thus mirroring the language in the Declaration of Independence, whose "dissolution" led to what we call the Revolutionary War.

- Alan
 
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Rob9641

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My recollection is that Robert E. Lee called it a civil war. Since the official records call it a rebellion, it will never officially be anything else. Otherwise, people can call it what they want - the War Between the States, the War of Northern Aggression, the War of Southern Foolishness, the War of Whatever.
 
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ForeverFree

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As I've said before, I think it's a poor choice of name, though I suppose we're stuck with it. A civil war like the Roman or English is a war between factions within a country for control of the entire country. "War for Independence" would be perfectly accurate, or "War of Independence" if it had succeeded.

IMO "American Revolution" is also the wrong term for our war of independence.
The thing is, it was Confederates who saw it as a war for independence. The other side saw it as a war to preserve the Union. African Americans saw it as a war to gain freedom and equality. If you say it was a"War for Independence" then you are describing the war in terms of language that reflect the CSA view of the war, but which do not reflect how others saw it.

I like the term Civil War as it implies that there were separate, conflicting interests at work.

- Alan
 

Carronade

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No offense, FF, but a war for independence by definition includes an "other side" trying to preserve the Union, nation, empire, etc. - otherwise there wouldn't be a war! Wars have been called a lot of things, but I've never heard of a "War of _______ Preservation" :wink:
 
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