Talk:American Civil War

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Am I the only one that thinks avoiding the usual name "Civil War" sounds totally crankish and needlessly makes the wiki sound neoconfederate and possibly racist? I don't think anyone really takes anything special from the "civil" in the name, as if that meant it was a friendly or good war or something. I've been reading for more than two years and I still cringe every time I hear it. Yeah I know the war wasn't really about slavery, but we have the arguments to prove that to the skeptical; so why send them running and screaming away thinking we might be KKK revivalists here when that is completely unnecessary? I mean, I have never heard "The War Between the States" used by any non-libertarian, so it is completely nonstandard. By the same logic we should rename everything, but we don't. We only rename this, and it looks aping ridiculous. Look at it from the point of view of some innocent person just walking in here and wandering what all this classical liberalism stuff is about. 14:59, 18 November 2010 (CST)

Take a look at Wikipedia:Naming_the_American_Civil_War#War_Between_the_States. "War Between the States" was and is a widely used term, though you are right, in modern Northern usage it's rare. The problem with "Civil War" is not that "civil" can be confused with "friendly" but that "civil war" is traditionally defined as a struggle for control of a central government. This war is clearly not such a war – no one suggests that the South was fighting for control of the central government. The American Revolutionary War is not called "The English Civil War" for the same reason. "War Between the States" is the most accurate term that is widely used (perhaps "War to Prevent Southern Independence" is slightly more accurate, but that would be ridiculous for the reasons you give). I've added "American Civil War" to the article as an alternative name (I should have added it originally, and we're going to want an article specifically on the war's names anyway), but I think this is the best article name, and not only because it fits better into Austrian/classical liberal thinking. --Forgottenman (talk) 15:14, 18 November 2010 (CST)
In fact, the term "War Between the States" is a very common designation in the south. And as Wikipedia points out, it was even used by FDR. That said, it seems crazy to me to get caught up in a struggle over naming. I might regard the Cold War as a huge U.S. military buildup using a phony Russian threat as the excuse, but I would still use the term Cold War since, after all, the purpose of language should be to communicate. In this sense, War Between the States might be technically accurate (although this even has problems because the states were not independent actors during the war but rather forced, on both sides, to join a central government) but it strikes me as unnecessarily provocative in a political sense. As another example, taxation might be theft but we would never redirect an entry on taxation to an entry theft as a rule. The point of an entry is to convey information in its contents not score points in the naming of the entry. So I would be inclined to support using conventions like Civil War, and then the entry itself can draw attention to the inappropriateness of the designation. --Jatucker 15:37, 18 November 2010 (CST)
I've moved the page; I see the rationale. I'm glad this article turned into a good test case for what our naming practices should be. --Forgottenman (talk) 15:50, 18 November 2010 (CST)
A "civil war" can encompass a war for independence that was lost. If the American states had lost the Revolutionary War, it probably would have been called a civil war in the history books. Nathan Larson (talk) 23:26, 29 October 2012 (MSK)

Consequences of not going to war

Suppose the north had allowed the south to secede. What would have been the outcome for the slaves? I suspect it might have been better for them.

The federal union made it possible for the southern states to use their influence in Congress to push for laws like the Fugitive Slave Act that required the return of fugitive slaves and punished those who helped them escape. Had the two sides been separate countries, the southern states would have had no representation in the U.S. Congress, and the question of what to do with fugitive slaves found in the north would have been a matter to be settled by diplomacy. The north would have been free to refuse to agree to any treaty requiring their return, much as many countries have demanded that extradition treaties contain an exception for political offenses such as treason. Nathan Larson (talk) 23:26, 29 October 2012 (MSK)