After my Memorial Day message, in which I enumerated the dead in various American wars, I received the following from a reader, who took issue with my usage of the labels “Revolutionary War” and “Civil War.”
I take offense at the terminology for the names of two wars but I assume it was because you have been educated after 1950 and therefore I do not hold you accountable for the error.
However, it would be appreciated by all patriots if you would send a correction.
The historical and original name is the War for Independence. There never was a revolutionary war; that would imply that the United States wanted to overthrow King George. That was never a thought. The founding fathers simply wanted independence from King George’s tyranny.
There was a War Between the States and that was the issue as well as the proper and politically correct name. The issue was that the original intent of the United States Constitution provided for certain states’ rights and without the South’s approval of the constitution as written, there would not have been the document known as our Constitution; this included the right to secede. Once seceded, the Confederacy was not part of the United States, and therefore it is improper and inaccurate to call the War Between the States a civil war.
Certain groups have made changes to the recorded history over time for ulterior purposes; this is why your education in these matters is flawed.
“History is Written by the Victors”
There were no other letters on the subject, so I know this is not an issue of major concern to most readers. Yet my curiosity was piqued, and because I do like to use words correctly, I did some research … and I found that while my correspondent has some company in his opinions, he’s seriously outnumbered.
Wikipedia, for example, uses “American Revolutionary War,” while noting that the conflict is also known as the “American War of Independence.”
But Wikipedia is just one source. So I went to Google, to see what the people think. A search for the terms “Revolutionary War” American yielded some 2,230,000 results, while a search of “War for Independence” American yielded roughly 1,060,000 … a ratio of more than 2 to 1.
Seeking a somewhat higher authority, I confined my Google search to news items; doing so restricts the search to writers with a measure of credibility. This time, “Revolutionary War” American yielded 854 results, while search of “War for Independence” American yielded just 32 … a ratio of more than 26 to 1.
Moving on to the bloodiest conflict in American history, Wikipedia says, “In the United States, Civil War is the most common term for the conflict; it has been used by the overwhelming majority of reference books, scholarly journals, dictionaries, encyclopedias, popular histories, and mass media in the United States since the early 20th century. The National Park Service, the government organization entrusted by the United States Congress to preserve the battlefields of the war, uses this term. It is also the oldest term for the war. Writings of prominent men such as Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, Ulysses S. Grant, William Tecumseh Sherman, P.G.T. Beauregard, Nathan Bedford Forrest, and Judah P. Benjamin used the term ‘Civil War’ both before and during the conflict. Abraham Lincoln used it on multiple occasions.”
And what do the people say? A Google search for “Civil War” American yielded 2,810,000 results. A search for “War between the States” yielded 477,000, for a ratio of nearly 6 to 1. “War of Northern Aggression” yielded 74,000 results. “War for Southern Independence” yielded 40,000. And “War of the Rebellion” yielded 199,000.
Finally, limiting the search to professional writers, “Civil War” American yielded 8,332 results, while “War between the States” yielded 94, for a ratio of 89 to 1. “War of Northern Aggression” yielded 15 results. “War for Southern Independence” yielded 9. And “War of the Rebellion” yielded 8.
Perhaps the most relevant words come from Winston Churchill, who said, “History is written by the victors.”
Logic Versus Popularity
Now, some people–like my correspondent–will argue that what the majority thinks doesn’t matter; that logic should trump popularity.
Yet when it comes to language, the fact is that popularity is everything. As a student of the English language, I’ve long accepted the fact that language changes over time, and that in the absence of a Supreme Language Judge, what’s correct is whatever the people use.
For example, a recent article in the Boston Globe by Jan Freeman noted that the phrase “You’ve got another think coming”–meaning, “Think again” or “You’re wrong”–has been usurped in popularity by “You’ve got another thing coming.”
The newer phrase makes no logical sense, yet it has come into being because that’s what people hear when the phrase is spoken. And in our increasingly aural culture, it’s easier to imagine that a thing (a noun) will come than a think (primarily a verb), despite the fact that the phrase makes no sense.
Checking Jan’s statement, I find that a general Google search of the phrase, “You’ve got another thing coming” yields 68,600 results, while a search of the original “You’ve got another think coming” yields just 11,200, for a ratio of 6 to 1.
Limiting the search to official news sources reduces the results dramatically; the phrase is too casual for many publications. But the results make it clear that among the pros, a respect for tradition (and sense) remains. Among them, the phrase, “You’ve got another thing coming” yields 20 results, while a search of the original “You’ve got another think coming” yields 33, or 65% more. But the trend is clear.
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As for investing, I have a few thoughts.
First, that after an eight-week advance from mid-March to Mid-May, the market was due for a rest, and that’s what it’s given us these past two weeks.
Second, that the American economy is in a period of great transition, but just like the frog in the pot of water that’s being slowly heated, many people don’t appreciate the magnitude of the coming changes yet.
Third, that there are tremendous investment opportunities out there for investors who are willing to embrace the future. This week, General Motors (NYSE: GM) stock hit a 25-year low. In the same week, Clean Harbors (NSDQ: CLHB), hit an all-time high.
You may remember Clean Harbors; I recommended it here back on April 14, when it was trading at 63.
I told you that Clean Harbors, which was first recommended by Cabot Green Investor, was the largest player in the specialized waste management arena, and that revenues would top $1 billion in 2008.
I told you that it had recently opened a facility in Alberta, Canada, to help companies in the rapidly growing oil sands industry stay clean.
And I told you that more growth would come from the on-site service market-assisting utilities in foul weather, cleaning up from disasters and managing waste facilities on behalf of other companies.
Finally, I wrote, “I look at Clean Harbors and I see a company with an excellent track record of growth. It’s not a hot stock, but it’s a well-managed company that is likely to see great growth as the world becomes increasingly focused on cleaning up.
And chart-wise, it’s attractive right here! After hitting an all-time high of 68 in March, the stock pulled back to the zone between 62 and 64, where it traded tightly all last week. In the meantime, the 50-day moving average has almost caught up, and the odds are very good that these supportive components will soon contribute to an upmove that takes the stock back up to 68, and beyond.”
Well, on Wednesday of this week, CLHB broke out through that old high of 68 and zoomed up to 70, on greater-than-average trading volume. Today it topped 73. There’d been no news to account for the spurt, and that pleases me no end because it means the good news is still to come.
If you’ve got it, hold on tight.
And if you haven’t got it? Well, short-term, I think it’s a little high to buy here. But sticking with the Green theme, I have another recommendation from Cabot Green Investor. It’s the leading producer of biodiesel fuel in China. Revenues grew at a 60% rate last quarter, while earnings grew 73%. The prospects for continued rapid growth are very good. And the stock has just pulled back from a high of 18 to a low of nearly 13, where it touched its uptrending 25-day moving average. I think it’s a good buy here.
Editor’s Note: You can get the name of the Chinese biodiesel stock, along with expert advice on building a portfolio of Green stocks, by subscribing to Cabot Green Investor. Editor Brendan Coffey uses Cabot’s time-tested system for investing in growth stocks, letting winners run and cutting losses short. And all his recommendations are good for the planet! Since it was launched at the start of 2008, subscribers have enjoyed growing profits in J A Solar Holdings (NSDQ: JASO), Clean Harbors (NSDQ: CLHB), and American Superconductor (NSDQ: AMSC) (wind energy) … and that’s just the beginning. To start your own no-risk trial subscription, simply click the link below.
Yours in pursuit of wisdom and wealth,
Cabot Wealth Advisory