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John Kelly's unfortunate Civil War words shed light on White House

John Kelly's unfortunate Civil War words shed light on White House
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Despite the thousands of historical records and analysis that have focused on the Civil War, it is peculiar to me that we are relitigating what is so easily and readily available merely by accessing scholarly journals via the internet or the library. In a recent interview with Laura Ingraham on Fox News, White House chief of staff John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE, said, “The lack of an ability to compromise led to the Civil War.” The ignorance of his statement was surprising in part because he’s a former Marine Corps general, and to clarify, by ignorant I mean “lacking knowledge or comprehension of the thing specified,” as defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary.

There was sufficient support for allowing slavery to remain where it already existed. It was slavery’s future in the rest of the country that allowed for no common ground. In fact, the 13th Amendment that we know today, which abolishes slavery, could be known as the second 13th Amendment because there was another one named the Corwin Amendment, which would have protected slavery.

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It overwhelmingly passed both houses of Congress and said, “No amendment shall be made to the Constitution which will authorize or give to Congress the power to abolish or interfere, within any state, with the domestic institutions thereof, including that of person held to labor or service by the laws of said state.”

The purpose of the amendment was to assure nervous southerners that they were safe in the Union, particularly with the incoming administration of the newly elected Republican president, Abraham Lincoln. However, he was on board with the compromise. Lincoln even mentioned it during his inaugural address stating, “I depart from my purpose not to speak of particular amendments so far as to say that, holding such a provision to now be implied constitutional law, I have no objection to its being made express and irrevocable.”

Several states began the process of ratifying the amendment, but this abruptly ceased when Confederate troops fired on Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina, in April 1861, which led to the Civil War. The divide over slavery was about its expansion. The north did not see a future nation with slavery, but the South did, impart because it was their main source of income. Thankfully, the North prevailed because I’m not certain what the present would look like if they did not.

General Kelly’s statements are not only ignorant, but unfortunate. There should be no disputation of this issue and the fact that the chief of staff to the president would make the case that compromise was possible over the debate of expanding or not expanding slavery is not only ignorant, but it is extremely hurtful to the millions of African Americans whose ancestors had the misfortune of experiencing the treachery of such an oppressive system.

The degradation of civility, facts and historical records have reached a level so low that there should be nothing surprising by some of the statements that come from the White House. However, General Kelly’s remarks do not exist in a vacuum from the many other abhorrent claims made by the administration. Each of these moments, further diminishes credibility and distracts from the ability to tackle and ultimately solve complicated policy issues, and do so, to the detriment of the country.

I hoped that General Kelly would bring the necessary discipline and discernment to an administration that was often lacking. His military record and service to our country is inspiring for so many reasons, but to observe him embark on a journey that diminishes his credibility, which took a lifetime to build, is unfortunate. However, like any virus, if you’re around it enough, it will infect even the strongest among us.

Shermichael Singleton is a CNN political commentator and a Republican political strategist who has worked on the presidential campaigns of Mitt Romney and Ben CarsonBenjamin (Ben) Solomon CarsonEPA to jumpstart 'war on lead' with strategy meeting Emails show Carson family involvement in HUD affairs: report Officials raised ethics concerns over Ben Carson's son assisting HUD event: report MORE. Follow him on Twitter @Shermichael_.