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Translation Tuesday: The War of Northern Aggression

November 1, 2011

I got to explain this one to my students on the trip to Charleston last weekend: The War of Northern Aggression.  Also known as “That Late Unpleasantness,” “ The War Between the States” or as it is known to most everyone else other than those below the Mason-Dixon line, the Civil War.

The War of Northern Aggression is the title that many Southerners call the Civil War. It was viewed at the time, and sometimes still is, as the North trying to suppress the rights of the states to the South. The South wanted to secede from the Union of the United States of America, the federal government wouldn’t have it and tried to stop them. Many say it was all about slavery and the Southerner’s right to own slaves, which we all agree now was a horrible institution. Southerners claim it was about the rights of the state to govern themselves, not be governed by the federal government. It was about that, but that argument itself was based on the fact that Southerners wanted to decide for themselves if slavery should be allowed. Thus, the South left the Union, the Union said no way and we have the War of Northern Aggression.

Hundreds of books have been written on this topic…. That is as simple as I can get it down in blog form. Now, try to explain that to a bunch of college students on Saturday morning.

And one of my favorite quotes using that phrase: “That is the War of Northern Aggression. You remember which side if the Mason-Dixon line you are plopping your Yankee ass down on.”

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