War, Civil War, or Revolution?

[ Originally published on this site as post ]

“Four score and seven years ago,” Lincoln said at Gettysburg on November 19, 1863, “our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.” The power and beauty of Lincoln’s speech have made those words among the most memorized and analyzed in American history. Yet as David Armitage points out in his lucid and learned book Civil Wars: A History in Ideas, we often gloss over a crucial phrase: “great civil war.” More than 150 years later, with the Civil War’s outcome