What To Call It?

PrintPrintEmailEmail

The New York University professor Alexander Baltzly regarded “World War II” a poor choice, even worse than “the Second World War,” but in such common usage it was “impossible to stop.” Dredging up “the War of the Spanish Succession” and “the Seven Years’ War,” he asserted that “there have been four world wars since we got history all on one stage.” Professor Commager disagreed.

Historians proposed, but it was up to the President to dispose. In late September Truman approved the recommendation of Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson. Stimson had reached his conclusion through “an analysis of publications and radio programs” indicating its popularity. He urged its adoption “as a matter of simplicity and to insure uniform terminology” in a variety of public laws and executive actions. The winner: “World War II.”