In his new book, A Nation Without Borders: The United States and Its World in an Age of Civil Wars, 1830-1910, historian Steven Hahn dispenses with the popular reference to the “Civil War” in favor of “War of the Rebellion.” Here is why:
I term this bloody episode, as many supporters of the Union did at the time, the “War of the Rebellion” (not the “Civil War”) and treat the “Confederacy” as a rogue rather than a legitimate state, in good part because no other state power in the world ever recognized it (the terms “Confederate” and “Confederacy” are used sparingly; more frequently, I refer to the “rebellious states”).
But the War of the Rebellion was only the largest of many rebellions that either called into question the sovereign authority of the federal government or insisted upon their own claims to sovereignty. These included the resistance of Native Americans to settler colonialism and dispossession, especially in the Second Seminole War of the 1830s and 1840s…the embrace of nullification by reactionary slaveholders in South Carolina in the early 1830s; the efforts of Mormons to limit federal power in the Utah Territory…; privately financed and directed filibustering operations against Cuba, Mexico, and Central America in the 1840s and 1850s…; and the percolation of secessionist sentiment in California, the Midwest, and the City of New York as the Lincoln administration moved to deal with the Confederate rebellion…These would be followed during the War of the Rebellion itself by Native American uprisings in the upper plains, copperheadism…, violent opposition to the draft and the recruitment of African Americans to fight in the Union Army, and resistance to the expansion of federal power more generally. We may, indeed, think of “wars of the rebellions” during the first seven decades of the nineteenth century. (p. 4)
What do you think?