I didn’t know who else to bother – ah, inform – about my brainstorm. You see, starting next month, I will begin the compilation of the July/August issue of The Southern Cavalry Review, the newsletter of The Stuart-Mosby Historical Society. I have warned – ah, informed – the membership that the entire matter of “the War” will be covered in the upcoming membership year (July 1st, through June 30th) and perhaps on into the next membership year since both will include the Sesquicentennial Year of 2011. However, my major problem is how to define the War. It is, obviously, know primarily as “the Civil War” which, of course, it was not. Some folks call it “the War Between the States”, but though less incorrect than the term “civil war”, it still is not really correct. It has been called “the War of Secession” which is correct, but which will certainly confuse a lot of folks even on our side. It has also been called “the War for Southern Independence” which, again, is correct but, let’s face it, like the last term, “the War of Northern Aggression”, is not going to be accepted even by some Southerners.
So what to do? I needed something short but accurate. Something that would “fill the eye” like WBTS or ACW but that is not inaccurate. As I pondered this problem, I was listening to some of the news broadcasts about the passage (?!) of Obamacare by our rulers in Washington and how a lot of states including – God bless her – Virginia are beginning to challenge the government’s mandates in this wretched power grab disguised as another huge welfare progarm. And I thought then, about just who actually initiated and waged “the War”. It wasn’t the States, but the Federal Government. And the idea wasn’t to “preserve the Union”, but to bring the Sovereign States under a central authority that negated the 10th Amendment and most of the rest of the Constitution as well. In other words, this was not a war between North and South – it simply worked out that way because the States in the North (and the Mid-West and West) went to war against the States of the South in the name of “preserving the Union” and “ending slavery”. What the people of these States did not understand was that the war was a (successful) effort by Lincoln and his cabal to remove the concept of Sovereign State from the equation of governance. Lincoln and those with him claimed that the Nation was formed by the People, not by the States! He said as much in that famous alliterative phrase in the Gettysburg Address; that is, a government “of the People, “by the People” and “for the People”. He said not one word about the States. Yet the government was conceived of, by and for the States and through the States to the People acting as members of their individual States. By removing the States from the governing equation, the Federal Government perforce became all powerful since the People then ruled according to their numbers (democracy) rather than through their States (representative republic) and then by virtue of those governing bodies, through the Federal Government. It remains the same today as large cities determine the policies of the nation while suburban and rural areas are held in a virtual fiefdom to large States with their large cities which, oddly enough, are usually vile dens of corruption more often than not.
So the War wasn’t against the South as a region or even as a people or a culture, but against Southern States and the triumph of the “Union” (that is, the Federal Government) stripped the rights of the Sovereign States not only from the thirteen Confederate States but from every other State in that Union even when they joined in fighting for what became their own destruction. Hence, Shelby Foote’s famous definition of the nation before and after the War: before it was, the united States are (lower case “u”); afterward it became the United States is (capitol “U”). When you have a singular verb, the subject perforce must be singular. In this case, the identity of the nation became not a “union” of separate, equal sovereign States, but a single central government – a national government, as Patrick Henry feared when he refused to support the Constitution.
So, now it would seem that the most accurate name that can be bestowed upon the War that lasted from 1861 to 1865 is:
The War AGAINST the States.
This accurately and succinctly identifies what actually happened almost 150 years ago when the governmental concepts of Adams and Hamilton triumphed over Jefferson and Madison and were then put into place by a tyrant who believed in a powerful central government, in elements of fascism and socialism – and even communism – and who was willing to engage in a type of warfare not seen since the days of the Vandals and the Visigoths or seen again until the Waffen SS thundered across Europe like Sherman across Georgia. Yes, I do believe that this is the most accurate and enlightening label that can be bestowed on this national tragedy.