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Second American Civil War

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A stock Alternate History scenario in which America falls to internal divisions and a second civil war ensues. A second civil war is useful for explaining a timeline having radical shifts in American governance, keeping them distracted from World War II, or otherwise explaining why America isn't saving the day. While the South rising up for round 2 is a very common component of this, there are other scenarios, and the South is not always the only part of the country to rise up, or may not rise up at all, or may even be the seat of the Union for the sake of irony.

May simply be implied by a work referring to the historical American Civil War as the First American Civil War.

Subtrope of Divided States of America, Possible War and Civil War and can easily lead to many Different States of America tropes. Can set the stage for examples of Russia Called; They Want Alaska Back and Mexico Called; They Want Texas Back. May result from Oppressive States of America and may lead to Fallen States of America.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The USA splitting into three countries is part of the history of both Appleseed and Ghost in the Shell but whether Imperial Americana and the Soviet-American Alliance were let go peacefully after World War IV or there was a war seems to depend on the adaptation.
  • In Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045 Imperial Americana is engaged in AI-driven "sustainable war" along with the other world powers for the purpose of propping up the military-industrial complex that is now the only functional sector of the economy. However there are fears that the existing conflicts could spiral into a full-blown civil war, with the NSA suspecting the emergent "posthumans" as behind it.

    Comic Books 
  • In DMZ, a second American Civil War has the Midwest fighting against both coasts, to the point where New Jersey and New York are on opposite sides and the title location (the Demilitarized Zone) is Manhattan Island, where an uneasy cease-fire has formed. DMZ says the free state movement was more of an idea than a territorial location, making it more in line with modern 4th generation warfare.
  • Jour J: "Texan Apocalypse" has the remnants of the US (after the Cold War ended in the US and USSR firing everything they had at each other, the US having three times as many as the Soviets) each declaring themselves the "real" US and waging war on each other. The plot starts with a faction of Southern Gun Nut fundamentalists led by Charlton Heston raiding the last missile silo to destroy their enemies, the Californians, lead by Richard Nixon, and the remnants of the original US government lead by Henry Kissinger, while a French and British coalition tries to stop them. It turns out the silo's inhabitants siphoned off the fuel decades earlier to power their base.
  • Judge Dredd: The canonical Second American Civil War was fought between the sitting President Evil and his own Justice Department in the aftermath of the Atomic War. The President was responsible for starting said war, so the Judges rather sensibily argued that a man who had knowingly sacrificed millions of his own countrymen was no longer fit for office (invoking the Declaration of Independence against George III). The Army was still loyal to the President, but the Judges had become a heavily militarized State Sec at this point and eventually came out the victor.
  • In Superman: Red Son, The USA experiences a second civil war, with 16 "prodigal states" (including Georgia) successfully seceding.
  • In the Ultimate Marvel universe there was a Second American Civil War when Washington D.C was destroyed by a villain known as The Maker with the most liberal and conservative states starting to either fight each other or declare their independence from the Union.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Barb Wire is set during a Second American Civil War between ultra-nationalists and conservatives.
  • Children of Men takes place in a world where no human child has been born for eighteen years and humanity faces extinction. While the film's setting, Britain, has mostly held together in the face of this existential crisis because of its island nature and the government usurping more powers to weather the crisis, in the background America has become engulfed in internal conflict and militias have seized several cities.
  • The 1997 satire The Second Civil War is Exactly What It Says on the Tin, depicting the break-up of the USA, starting with a child refugee crisis that happens because the governor of Idaho closed his state's borders to them which then escalates to rumors that it's the first step to the secession of Idaho and things snowballing from there.
  • The V for Vendetta movie, set in Britain 20 Minutes into the Future, mentions a "Second American Civil War" afflicting "the former United States" (presumably by analogy with "the former Soviet Union"). There was no nuclear war in the movie, but from what little inter-national news is shown (on the propaganda-heavy television of the Norsefire Party) it looks like they have fallen into dire poverty and are plagued by disease to no end (though famine isn't among their problems, possibly).

  • How Few Remain by Harry Turtledove, the first book of his Timeline-191 series, plays with this trope. The book starts with the Confederates winning the Civil War at Antietam, and fast-forwards twenty years, and the North and South fight a second war over control of the West (and also Northern resentment for losing) in what is for all intents and purposes, a second round of the American Civil War, but by then, it's no longer a civil war, and instead, a regular war between two independent countries that just so happen to be the United States of America and the Confederate States of America.
  • It Can't Happen Here ends rather suddenly with America engulfed in a civil war following a disastrous right-wing populist presidency and multiple coups.
  • The Halo: Evolutions story The Impossible Life and Possible Death of Preston J. Cole uses the term "the first American Civil War" without actually depicting any such events, implying that the US fell into at least one more civil war between the present day and the 26th century.
  • Orson Scott Card's Empire: This occurs near the start of the book as tensions over political extremism in the United States boils over into a full-blown war that divides the country.
  • A second civil war happens at the climax of The Second Renaissance, when the Southwestern states, backed by a now-powerful Mexico, attempt to break away from the United States.
  • In the backstory of Unwind, a Second American Civil War happens over abortion. It ends with the compromise allowing "unwinding" - kids cannot be touched before birth but can be taken apart to harvest body parts during their teen years.
  • In Christian Nation, America becomes a Christian theocracy and several states rebel as the Secular Bloc, but are ultimately defeated and forced back into the Union, with New York City being the last secular holdout.
  • Done as a Noodle Incident in Starwolf by David Gerrold. One of the epigraphs is a comment from the war saying that half the soldiers don't know what they're fighting for, and the other half don't care, "they just like to fight."
  • In After the Revolution, the Second Civil War broke out in 2040 or 2041note . It lasted close to a decade and involved multiple factions all breaking apart and tearing America asunder. Twenty years after the war's end, the remnants of the federal government still control the north-eastern seaboard, the southern states (barring Florida) have created a theocratic state, Texas, the West Coast and Utah went independent but suffer from their own internal divisions, the Great Lakes region became a protectorate of Canada and Albuquerque has become an independent kingdom. The story focuses on a flareup in the war in Texas between the Christian fundamentalist "Heavenly Kingdom" and a coalition of Canada-supported leftist militias.
  • Blaine Lee Pardoe's Blue Dawn series is an alternate history set five years after a progressive revolution overthrew the unnamed President during the contested 2021 election and reformed the USA as "Newmerica". The new regime keeps the trappings of the old USA but implements many progressive policies proposed in real life, such as persecuting and purging conservatives from jobs or even jailing them in "social quarantine" camps, crushing dissenting viewpoints online or in the real world, and destroying national monuments. By Book 3 enough people and soldiers are fighting back that the civil war is well under way, with open battles in New Hampshire and Georgia among other places.

    Live-Action TV 
  • By the end of Season 2 of Jericho (2006), Jake and Hawkins have exposed the Cheyenne government's conspiracy and treason, causing Texas to rejoin the United States under the legitimate government. It is then flat out said by Chavez and Jake that a Second American Civil War is about to begin. And sure enough, the six-issue comic Sequel Series starts with the war's beginning.
  • In a case of What Could Have Been, a pilot film for a proposed TV drama, Civil, about a disputed election that slides into civil unrest and eventually war, was optioned by TNT in 2016. However TNT decided not to proceed as it was felt to be too close to home for the 2016 United States presidential elections.
  • In Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, it's revealed that prior to the Eugenics War and World War III, there was a Second American Civil War, suggesting the unrest spinning from the 2020 Elections were part of the cause.

  • The opening vignettes of It Could Happen Here depict life in the United States during a multi-polar civil war between Secessionists, Christian Dominionists, Left-Wing Extremists, American Loyalists, and the crumbling remains of the federal government. The overall framing of the war is much less like the clashing armies of the First American Civil War and much more like the asymmetric "fourth-generation warfare" of the Syrian Civil War. The first season of the series goes on to explore what a 2024 Second American Civil War might look like and what weapons and tactics might and might not be used in such a civil war.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Shadowrun has a coalition of Native American tribes led by Daniel Howling Coyote, incensed by their being forced into concentration camps, using the return of magic to start a guerrilla war with the USA in 2016. This results in nearly half the former US breaking away to form the Native American Nations two years later. The remaining states merge with what's left of Canada in 2030 to form the United Canadian and American States or UCAS, but the combined nation is still so weak they let Hawaii, California, and the new Confederacy go without a fight.
  • Twilight: 2000 involves a World War III-caused civil war between an allegedly-elected civilian government (CivGov), a military government that doesn't believe the civilian government is legitimate (MilGov), and an ultra-reactionary survivalist militia called "New America".
  • Crimson Skies has a worse version of The Spanish Flu and a split between 'Dry' and 'wet' states after Prohibition fails lead to the The Roaring '20s being not so roaring. When the stock market crashes in 1929, it leads to the country splitting into some 15 smaller nations. Canada breaks up as well, with some parts joining with neighboring successor states.

    Video Games 
  • In the Man the Guns DLC for Hearts of Iron IV, two scenarios for a second American Civil War are added, both of which are needed to carry out a change in the ruling ideology of the country.
    • In one, Franklin Delano Roosevelt goes much further in his New Deal policies and allies with the Communist Party of the United States of America, resulting in conservative elements launching a civil war to try to stop the country's march towards communism. If they are defeated, much like the Confederacy before them, their civil war speeds up the very thing they sought to avoid as they have essentially removed themselves from American politics and the CPUSA actually does take power.
    • In the other, FDR is defeated in the 1936 elections and his opponents ally with the Silver Legion to try solidify their power via voter intimidation and other shady practices. Seeing this as a sort of "soft coup", FDR and the progressive wings of the Democratic and Republican parties, calling themselves the Constitutionalists, start a civil war, while Douglas MacArthur assumes command of the Loyalist forces. If the Loyalists are victorious, MacArthur can retain power or the Loyalists can establish a new Confederacy under the rule of William Dudley Pelley, Charles Lindburgh, or if the Kaiser has been restored in Germany, an architect named Adam Hilt, who is very definitely not an exiled Adolf Hitler in disguise. After which, the new far-right regime can attempt to leverage the vast American economy and population into world conquest.
  • Kaiserreich: Legacy of the Weltkrieg, a Hearts of Iron mod, has the Second American Civil War as one of its main gameplay events. In the wake of a worse and longer Great Depression and the success of Syndicalist revolutions in France and Britain emboldening the American left, the American labor movement has organized under the Socialist Party of America and has become the third largest party in the government, while Huey Long, after being denied the Democratic nomination in 1932, has started his own party, the America First-Union Party, which has had a rapid rise to power in the South. In the incredibly contentious 1936 elections, everyone offers their own path forward for America and some candidates like Floyd Olson promise to ease tensions and restore normalcy to America. However, all their efforts are for nought and during 1937, a second civil war will happennote , with the president being able to do little more than affect the starting balance of power.
    • If SPA candidate Jack Reed is elected, Huey Long's American Union State tends to be larger as a backlash to Reed's policies.
    • If AFP candidate Huey Long is elected, the Combined Syndicates of America tends to start a bit larger as a result of backlash to Long's policies.
    • If the Democrats and Republicans keep the National Unity coalition together and elect Floyd Olson, the United States can reach a compromise with the SPA and prevent them from rising up if negotiations succeed, leaving only a single front against the American Union State, which rises up immediately.
    • If Democratic candidate John Nance Garner is elected, he can reach a compromise with Huey Long and prevent him from rising up if it succeeds, leaving only a single front against the Combined Syndicates of America, which rise up immediately.
    • If Republican candidate Alf Landon is elected, there will be no compromise, but he can weaken both the SPA and AFP, resulting in both uprisings being smaller.
    • Olson, Garner, and Landon can all attempt to assassinate Long or Reed (mutually exclusive with attempting compromise). If successful, the side whose leader was assassinated falls into disarray and ceases to exist as a coherent political force, but the other side rises up almost immediately and (rightful) public suspicion of foul play by the government gives them major debuffs. If it fails, both Reed and Long rise up.
    • If either Long or Reed are elected, eventually Douglas MacArthur will stage a coup against them to "protect American democracy". Similarly, if any of the other three candidates neither assassinate either Reed or Long, nor take the options to compromise with or weaken the SPA and/or AFP, MacArthur will stage a coup to "protect" America from what they're enabling through inaction. Either way, he establishes a military junta and as a result of his coup, the Pacific States of America will secede, declaring themselves the only ones who still believe in America's founding values of liberal democracy and limited government in the face of nationalist reactionaries, syndicalist revolutionaries, and a military dictatorship AND both the Combined Syndicates and Union State rise up. If he is victorious, MacArthur may either restore American democracy as the "American Cincinatus" or stay at the helm as the "American Caesar".
  • Shattered Union depicts a modern Second Civil War following President David Jefferson Adams having a staggeringly unpopular first term, only to win re-election in a blatant sham election, which prompts a domestic terror plot that kills him and most of the government with a nuclear weapon on his inauguration day. Things spiral further out of control and the US splits into six warring states - Pacifica, the Great Plains Republic, the Texas Republic, the Confederacy, the California Commonwealth, and the New England Alliance vying for control of the US, while the Russians and European Union both offer aid to the belligerents and seek to produce an outcome that benefits them.
  • In Mass Effect, there's a brief mention that there was a second civil war in USA after it merged with Canada and Mexico to form the "United North American States" in 2096. The fighting was instigated by secessionist groups who opposed the union and blew up the Statue of Liberty.
  • The backstory for Cyberpunk 2077 reveals that sometime before 2070, there was a civil war between the New United States, a dictatorship established after a calamitous series of corporate wars dragged the original US into the third world, and several secessionist states. Night City, the game's principal setting, emerged as an independent, corporation-ruled city-state.
  • In the backstory of the Horizon games, Global Warming left Southern California, Nevada, and Arizona stricken by drought, leading to an evacuation of large areas of the affected states due to water shortages. Those who refused to leave rallied around Roberto Medina, a mining magnate who was already seeking greater control over his rare earth mines, and Edward de la Hoya, commander of Joint Task Force 10, as they revolted against the US government and set off what came to be called the Hot Zone Crisis. The war, which saw JTF-10 hold out against the federal government's robot armies even as Washington eventually resorted to using a nuclear weapon, ended with a negotiated reunification secured by Anne Faraday, an Air Force colonel who sided with the rebels but had long advocated for a peaceful resolution. In Horizon Forbidden West, you visit the ruins of a museum in the Mojave dedicated to the Hot Zone Crisis that whitewashes the rebel side, a view that, in a manner evoking the real-life Lost Cause of the Confederacy, was very controversial. Attempts to soften its stance, including emphasizing Medina's alleged Corrupt Corporate Executive tendencies, met furious backlash from Medina's daughter, by that point a Senator and one of the museum's key backers. Regardless, JTF-10's actions during the war, or at least how the museum depicted them, became a major source of inspiration for the Tenakth tribe when they discovered its ruins After the End, causing them to embrace a Cargo Cult version of US military culture.


    Web Original 
  • In An Examination of Extra-Universal Systems of Government's Southron Popular Republic Timeline has two different Second American Civil Wars. The Confederacy wins the Civil War and secures its independence from the Union, only to later fall to a communist revolution, while the Union has a second civil war of its own in the 1930s, resulting in California's independence.
  • The Falcon Cannot Hear: The Second American Civil War 1937-1944 details a seven-year civil war between Douglas MacArthur's military government, the American Soviet Republic, loyalists to Huey Long in the Deep South, the Provisional Government, and the Contiental Congress, the last two of which eventually team up, as well as various minor factions.
  • In's Reds!: A Revolutionary Timeline, the Second American Civil War is triggered in 1933. The prelude is the socialist candiate, Norman Thomas, winning the 1932 Presidential election, and the Popular Front, a broad socialist electorial alliance between the Workers' Communist Party and the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party gaining a majority in both chambers of the US Congress. In response, American high society are whipped into a panic, and throw their support behind the Government of the National Salvation Front of First Secretary Nicholas Longworth and General Douglas MacArthur, who takes power by persuading/threatening outgoing President Herbert Hoover into suspending the Constitution, enabling the military coup against President-elect Thomas in a Military Coup before he could take office, leading to Thomas' assassination and the arrest of several other leaders of the Communist Party. This barefaced assault on American democracy only ends up provoking the Communist revolution Longworth and MacArthur claimed to want to prevent, as the Popular Front rises up in rebellion. The rebellion gets broad support from several prominent Democrats and Republican politicians who are appalled by the actions of National Salvation Front and decides to deflect. The war ends with a Red victory, leading to the establishment of the Union of American Socialist Republics, the foremost Communist power along with the Soviet Union.
  • The Image Boards, particularly the right-wing militia fanatics that frequent them, often refer to a hypothetical civil war as a "Boogaloo", which has even entered the mainstream lexicon as media outlets picked up on the term. This is a reference to the movie Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo and being an Oddly Named Sequel, since a Second American Civil War would be a "sequel" to the first.
  • In The Fire Never Dies, the Second American Revolution is triggered shortly after the US declares war on Germany in 1917. As an ongoing dockworker's strike is impeding the flow of arms to Europe, President Wilson declares that all strikes will be suspended. The Industrial Workers of the World, which already opposed the war, declares a general strike in response. Wilson orders that the IWW be suppressed, and they take up arms (including the ones sitting on the docks as a result of the strike) in response. The ensuing war (which has many parallels to the (first) American Civil War) sees the American Red Army triumph through superior numbers, vastly superior industry, and the occasional bout of prejudice-induced stupidity on the part of the federal government. Afterwards, the Reds hold a new constitutional convention and found the American Socialist Union, the world's first major socialist power.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Family Guy episode "Back To The Pilot", Brian warns his past self about 9/11 during a time travel adventure to the first episode of the series, leading to him preventing the destruction of the World Trade Center. As a consequence, George W Bush loses his re-election campaign and instead ends up leading several southern states into forming a second Confederacy and seceding from the U.S. This spirals into a second Civil War and eventually reduces the East Coast to an irradiated wasteland.