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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.

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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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Examples:

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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.
  • 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.

    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 twenty years and humanity faces extinction. While the film's setting, Britain, has mostly held together in the face of this existential crisis, in the background America has become engulfed in internal conflict and militias have seized several cities.
  • 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 these 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).
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    Literature 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • This 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.

    Live-Action TV 
  • By the end of Season 2 of Jericho, 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.

    Podcasts 
  • 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, and American Loyalists. 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".

    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 Douglas MacArthur seizes power from either of the most extreme presidents, Jack Reed or Huey Long, or any other president if they refuse to take action to take action to deal with Reed and/or Long, 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 AND both the Combined Syndicates and Union State rise up.
  • 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.

    Web Original 
  • In the AlternateHistory.com timeline Reds, the Second American Civil War is fought in 1933 between the Government of National Salvation of Douglas MacArthur, who took power by overthrowing the Socialist President-elect Norman Thomas in a Military Coup, and the Communist-dominated Popular Front. The war ends with the Red victory, leading to the establishment of the Union of American Socialist Republics, the foremost Communist power along with the Soviet Union.

    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.

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