White House Chief of Staff John Kelly lit up the sensibilities of the mainstream media and court historians on Monday when he responded to a question from Fox News’ Laura Ingraham about the cultural Marxists’ efforts to wash away what they view as uncomfortable periods of American history.
When asked about his thoughts on whether a church attended by George Washington and Robert E. Lee should remove a plaque memorializing Washington’s and Lee’s attendance and other attempts to pull down monuments, Kelly responded that “History is history.” He cautioned against judging historical figures by today’s standards, and then said:
The lack of an ability to compromise led to the Civil War. And men and women of good faith on both sides made their stand where their conscience had them make their stand.
Continuing the conversation, Kelly said:
Robert E. Lee was an honorable man, he was a man that gave up his country to fight for his state, which 150 years ago was more important than country. Now, it’s different.”
The punditry class immediately lost their minds. Learned “historians” like Stephen Colbert mocked Kelly, asking if he thought the Civil War was a zoning issue. Mara Liason of the nation’s chief propaganda organ, National Public Radio, had this to say:
As a matter of fact, everything we learned in elementary school – the entire history of America up to the Civil War was the story of repeated compromises about slavery – the Missouri Compromise, the Three-Fifths Compromise, compromises to allow some states to keep slaves, some not.
But those compromises became untenable, and the South’s secession documents make it pretty clear they wanted a separate nation where they could have slaves. So Kelly’s remarks about the Civil War really echo something that the president said back in May when he suggested that some kind of deal could have been worked out to avert the Civil War. He said then, quote, “why was there the Civil War? Why could that one not have been worked out?”
As the Daily Caller reports, a CNN panel had a lot to say about Kelly’s remarks:
“This was not a close call,” contributor David Gregory said. “America mattered then and it matters now. History is not history when it comes to the Civil War. These monuments were put up during Reconstruction to stick it to free black people and to let them know there would be a new Jim Crow.”
Anchor Chris Cuomo argued that Gen. Kelly’s comments prove he is not going to politically temper President Trump.
“It was about slavery, not a crisis of conscious,” Cuomo said. “It’s bigotry being ignored and rationalized, and Kelly is not going to make it better — he’s making it the same or worse.”
Political analyst John Avlon chimed in, accusing Gen. Kelly of using language “out of mid-20th century textbooks” that sought to memorialize the leaders of the Civil War and deny that they were motivated by slavery.
“The Civil War didn’t come just because good people couldn’t compromise on both sides,” Avlon concluded. “It came about because of slavery, and if that gets ignored, the real history gets ignored.”
Abraham Lincoln cultist court historians also chimed in.
“It’s the Jim Crow version of the causes of the Civil War,” Columbia University history professor Stephanie McCurry, who wrote a book on the Civil War, told the Post. “I mean, it tracks all of the major talking points of this pro-Confederate view of the Civil War.” “This is profound ignorance,” said David Blight, a history professor and Civil War author at Yale. “I mean, it’s one thing to hear it from Trump … but General Kelly has a long history in the American military.”
“In 1861, compromise wasn’t possible because some Southerners just wanted out; they wanted a separate nation where they could protect slavery into the indefinite future,” McCurry said. “That’s what they said when they seceded. That’s what they said in their constitution.” Blight added that “of course we yearn for compromise,” but “look, Robert E. Lee was not a compromiser. He chose treason. … Lee was a Confederate nationalist.”
This is, of course, a stinking pile of historical revisionist sanctimonious claptrap.
The first of the southern states – South Carolina — seceded on December 20, 1860. In an address to the other “slaveholding states” put together by the Convention of South Carolina on December 25 to explain its actions, convention delegates explained that just as taxes were used by Great Britain to attempt to consolidate power over the colonies, the federal government in Washington – led by a few northern states – was doing the same thing:
And so with the Southern States, towards the Northern States, in the vital matter of taxation. They are in a minority in Congress. Their representation in Congress is useless to protect them against unjust taxation; and they are taxed by the people of the North for their benefit, exactly as the people of Great Britain taxed our ancestors in the British parliament for their benefit.
For the last forty years, the taxes laid by the Congress of the United States have been laid with a view of sub serving the interests of the North. The people of the South have been taxed by duties on imports (tariffs, sales tax on imports, imposts) not for revenue, but for an object inconsistent with revenue–to promote, by prohibitions, Northern interests in the productions of their mines and manufactures.
The people of the Southern States are not only taxed for the benefit of the Northern States, but after the taxes are collected, three-fourths (75%) of them are expended at the North.
This cause, with others, connected with the operation of the General Government, has made the cities of the South provincial. Their growth is paralyzed; they are mere suburbs of Northern cities. The agricultural productions of the South are the basis of the foreign commerce of the United States; yet Southern cities do not carry it on. Our foreign trade is almost annihilated.
South Carolina’s secession was followed by Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas between January 9 and February 1. Lincoln’s election with less than 40 percent of the votes and by carrying the states north of Virginia and Kentucky, along with Oregon and California, made him a sectional candidate. His advocacy for high tariffs that protected the northern industrial states and fell on the backs of the southern cotton-exporting states played a major role in secession. As a result of the tariffs, 18.5 percent of America’s citizens who lived in the South were saddled with three times their proportionate share of the federal government’s costs.
During the presidential debates, Stephen Douglas accused Lincoln of wanting to “impose on the nation a uniformity of local laws and institutions and a moral homogeneity dictated by the central government” that “place at defiance the intentions of the republic’s founders.”
As historian Bruce Catton wrote in “The Civil War,” in 1860 Lincoln wanted to be the nominee of the Republican Party — a party that consisted of an amalgam of former members of the defunct Whig Party, free-soilers (those who believed all new territories should be slave-free, largely in order to preserve white farm jobs), business leaders who wanted a central government that would protect industry and ordinary folk who wanted a homestead act that would provide free farms in the West.
Slavery was but one of a host of grievances the south had with northern Republicans. But the slavery issue was put to bed by the Corwin Amendment that gave constitutional protection to slavery.
In his book, “The Political Crisis of the 1850s,” Michael F. Holt describes how just prior to the U.S. war to prevent separation, Americans, particularly Southern Americans, had lost all confidence in the current political system because the existing parties did not represent the people but instead represented the agricultural aristocracy, big business and the banksters. There was also an influx of aliens (mostly Irish Catholics and Germans) who Americans believed did not understand or appreciate America’s “values.” The political parties agitated the people over these immigrants, creating a constant state of strife in addition to the already existing acrimony over the slavery issue, the addition of states to the union and tariffs.
Lincoln himself said he cared not a whit about the slavery issue. At his inauguration on March 4, Lincoln said:
I have no purpose, directly or in-directly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.
In his declaration of war Lincoln stated that taxes were the issue when he said, “Whereas an insurrection against the Government of the United States has broken out and the laws of the United States for the collection of the revenue cannot be effectually executed therein.
In a letter to Horace Greely written on August 22, 1862, Lincoln wrote:
As to the policy I “seem to be pursuing” as you say, I have not meant to leave any one in doubt.
I would save the Union. I would save it the shortest way under the Constitution. The sooner the national authority can be restored; the nearer the Union will be “the Union as it was.” If there be those who would not save the Union, unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause. I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors; and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views.
Nor did most northern soldiers believe they were fighting to free slaves. They defected in droves after the Emancipation Proclamation, which did not free any slaves in any territory held by the Union armies at that time.
Nor were southern boys going to war to defend slavery. Those digging the trenches, fixing bayonets and charging into the withering fire of the northern invaders did not own slaves. And when asked by northern soldiers why they were fighting they replied, “because you’re here.”
So the war was not about slavery, despite what most history textbooks, court historians and the politically-correct pundit class repeat ad nauseum. And there couldn’t be any compromise from the south’s standpoint, because to do so was accept wholesale destruction of its way of life.
And Lee was indeed an honorable man. When he surrendered at Appomattox he was defying an order by Jefferson Davis to continue fighting a guerilla war. And even Gen. U.S. Grant admitted Lee was honorable in surrender:
When I went into the house I found General Lee. We greeted each other, and after shaking hands took our seats. I had my staff with me, a good portion of whom were in the room during the whole of the interview.
What General Lee’s feelings were I do not know. As he was a man of much dignity, with an impassible face, it was impossible to say whether he felt inwardly glad that the end had finally come, or felt sad over the result, and was too manly to show it. Whatever his feelings, they were entirely concealed from my observation; but my own feelings, which had been quite jubilant on the receipt of his letter, were sad and depressed. I felt like anything rather than rejoicing at the downfall of a foe who had fought so long and valiantly…”
And finally, Lee freed the slaves his wife inherited in 1862, acting in accordance to the will of his father-in-law, George Washington Parke Custis.