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Alpo
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When did America become a country?

 

I was watching this video the other day, and the guy was asking people questions about this that and the other, and of course everybody was getting the answers wrong.

 

One of the questions was "who fought in the civil war". I'm thinking "whose civil war?" England had a civil war. So did Spain, Russia, Vietnam and possibly Korea. America has never had a civil war, although people keep calling it that.

 

And one of his questions was when did America become a country. Now I'm sure the answer he was after was 1776. But is that correct? Did we become a country when we said we were a country - 1776 - or when we actually won the war and thus were no longer British - 1783?

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Interesting question with several possible answers, all equally correct.

We became a country (nation) when we told England that we had cut our ties to her.
We became a country when the English said, "OK, have it your way."
We became a country when the Articles of Confederation were adopted.
We became a country when the Constitution of the United States of America was ratified by the States.

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I’m wondering about your question. Very interesting. A civil war being defined as a war between citizens of a country. However if said (country) is not already recognized as a soveign nation then it is not a civil war but rather a fight from outside countries over the spread of their country. I think this is where you are going with this conversation. Correct me Alpo if I am wrong. I’ve often pondered that question. 1775-1783. Otherwise known as the revolutionary war against the British colonies   I believe this is your reference. Civil war 1861-1865. Over mainly slavery but much outside influence was at play. Please clarify your statement so I understand.

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1 hour ago, Tennessee Trapper Tom said:

A civil war being defined as a war between citizens of a country

No. A civil war is a war between citizens of a country trying to decide who will rule the country. When the king of Spain was fighting the communists, that was a civil war. When the king of England was fighting Oliver Cromwell, that was the civil war. When Tsar Nicolai II was fighting the Bolsheviks, that was a civil war.

 

In 1776 a small section of the British empire decided they no longer wished to be a part of the British empire, and England said "too damn bad" and there was a war. This was never referred to as a civil war. The American colonies did not want to rule England. They wanted to leave England. And it was called the American revolution.

 

In 1861 a small section of the United States decided they no longer wished to be a part of the United States, and the United States said "too damn bad", and there was a war. Once again, this was not a civil war, because the South did not want to rule the United States. They wanted to leave the United States. This should technically be referred to as the second American revolution.

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Very interesting perspective. Never thought of it that way. I’ve read that view before but because internal economic and societal differences between Northern Ideology and southern ideology I didn’t consider that idea. However, if Texas decided to leave the US and went to war with us is that the distinction you are making. That a state wanting to leave becomes revolutionary and not civil. I think I understand.

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Your definition of a civil war is imaginative, but the US Civil War meets any reasonable recognized definition-- an intra-national war. Because it was rather precisely regionally-based doesn't change that.

 

I think we became a country gradually, as a recognizable American outlook and self-designation began to grow in the latter 18th Century. It was strongly accelerated by the French and Indian War, culminating in the Revolutionary War, where the concept of United States arose, rather than just America.  Then the Constitution. Then the process continued as gradually folks started to use United States in the singular, rather than plural. That took awhile.

Edited by Red Gauntlet , SASS 60619
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In 1991 Ukraine declared itself a sovereign state. Russia has never recognized their status. Now Russia invades. Ukraine was part of The Soviet Union. Is this revolutionary, civil or just an invasion by another country? How do you view it.

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3 minutes ago, Red Gauntlet , SASS 60619 said:

Your definition of a civil war is imaginative, but the US Civil War meets any reasonable recognized definition-- an intra-national war. Because it was rather precisely regionally-based doesn't change that.

 

I think we became a country gradually, as a recognizable American outlook and self-designation began to grow in the latter 18th Century. It was strongly accellerated by the French and Indian War, culminating in the Revolutionary War, where the concept of United States arose, rather than just America. Then the process continued as gradually folks started to use United States in the singular, rather than plural. That took awhile.

Who’s definition is imaginative? 

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No war is civil.

 

This said, maybe you are talking about the United State's War of Northern Aggression, 1860-1865?

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The dictionary definition of civil war is so broad as to be almost meaningless.  It's broad enough that the 6 years of riots we had from 2016 through 2020 can be called a civil war.    Is a war of rebellion, one side wishing to leave some larger political body, a civil war?  Some say yes, some say no.  By the book definition our war to remove the colonies in America from the British Empire was a civil war.  

 

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Alpo, I’m guessing that using the textbook definition of a civil war, you were inquiring about when we were considered a sovereign nation to fit the definition of a civil war. Internal infighting. No outside aggression. Is this correct.  Because even though we declared independence, it was not world wide recognized. Is this your position

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38 minutes ago, Red Gauntlet , SASS 60619 said:

Your definition of a civil war is imaginative, but the US Civil War meets any reasonable recognized definition-- an intra-national war

So the Indian mutiny was a civil war? The American revolution was a civil war? "The troubles" in Ireland - that's also a civil war?

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13 minutes ago, Tennessee Trapper Tom said:

Alpo, I’m guessing that using the textbook definition of a civil war, you were inquiring about when we were considered a sovereign nation to fit the definition of a civil war. Internal infighting. No outside aggression. Is this correct.  Because even though we declared independence, it was not world wide recognized. Is this your position

I believe he was referring to the Southern secession of 1861. Which, some say, was not a civil war because the Confederate states were not trying to overthrow the government of the USA. This is why the war is referred to as the War of Northern Aggression, War Between the States, etc. Mostly in the south.

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When we got a post office. 

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2 hours ago, Alpo said:

So the Indian mutiny was a civil war? The American revolution was a civil war? "The troubles" in Ireland - that's also a civil war?

 

I don't think it's so complicated. The American revolution in fact had many features of a civil war, and not with respect to the rebellion against the 'mother country' itself, but within American society, between patriots and loyalists. There was much bloodshed there, family against family, brother against brother, more even than in our Civil War; many features of a civil war; battles and slaughters. We forget that large numbers of citizens of all social classes were against independence from Britain. It could hardly be otherwise when you think about it.

 

Loyalists fled into Canada in the tens of thousands, and the United Empire Loyalists played a large part in subsequent Canadian history.

 

As for the American Civil War, I'll just go with Shelby Foote's designation and leave it at that.

Edited by Red Gauntlet , SASS 60619
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5 hours ago, Subdeacon Joe said:

Interesting question with several possible answers, all equally correct.

We became a country (nation) when we told England that we had cut our ties to her.
We became a country when the English said, "OK, have it your way."
We became a country when the Articles of Confederation were adopted.
We became a country when the Constitution of the United States of America was ratified by the States.

 

One could add when we were recognized diplomatically by another country (France, in 1778 for those counting)

 

Or, creatively, one could argue in 1865, when it became clear that the States were no longer free to secede, and that the shift had definitively been made from referencing one's home state as one's "country." The states were irrevocably bound as one nation from that point forward.

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9 minutes ago, DocWard said:

 

One could add when we were recognized diplomatically by another country (France, in 1778 for those counting)

 

Or, creatively, one could argue in 1865, when it became clear that the States were no longer free to secede, and that the shift had definitively been made from referencing one's home state as one's "country." The states were irrevocably bound as one nation from that point forward.

 

I wasn't going to get into the 10th Amendment.

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To answer 'When did the U.S. become a country?', first -- what are the characteristics of, 'a country'?

 

If you take it to the bare minimum, you have a defined geographic area, a population, a government, and the authority of that government. So at what point did each of those four characteristics occur?

 

Geographic area: well, vaguely yes in 1776 if you go with the defined boundaries of the colonies that declared their independence.

Population: check -- there were people in the colonies.

Government: check -- he Articles of Confederation were established in 1777.

Authority: there's the catch. At what point was the authority of congress sufficient to call the U.S. a country? I'd have to go with 1783 when Great Britain formally recognized the U.S. as an independent nation in the Treaty of Paris in 1783. That was the point at which the British government relinquished governing authority of the colonies to the U.S. congress.

 

Some other perspectives of the question seem to deal more with the development/refinement of a national identity, than the basic question of when did the U.S. become a country.

 

I figure the Civil War was in every aspect a civil war. The southern states were rebelling against the recognized national government; even if the rebellion was confined to specific geographic area, it was still a rebellion against a government that had been accepted as the legitimate national government for threescore and eighteen years, with the intent of replacing that government in the seceding states. I had ancestors on both sides of the conflict, including a couple that were involved with some 'irregulars', as it were.

 

As far as the Revolutionary War/Civil War bit -- I think there's a bit of difference between chartered colonies fighting a war for independence from the mother country, and a portion of a nation fighting to overthrow the authority of the national government. While the British government claimed ownership of the colonies, and exercised rule over it, they never formally made the colonies part of their nation in the same sense that Wales, etc. were made a part of their government -- no representatives from the colonies were seated in Parliament, for example.

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