Author Ta-Nehisi Coates shreds John Kelly's defense of Civil War: US founded on compromise on slavery
Ta-Nehisi Coates

White House chief of staff John Kelly argued the Civil War resulted from a lack of compromise -- but author and Civil War obsessive Ta-Nehisi Coates destroyed his claims.


Kelly told Fox News that "both sides" were to blame for the war, which he said resulted from an inability to compromise -- although he never offered any examples or specified which issues were at stake.

Coates, a national correspondent for The Atlantic, took down Kelly's claims Tuesday morning in a series of tweets.

"(The) notion that Civil War resulted from a lack of compromise is belied by all the compromises made on enslavement from America's founding," Coates began. "I mean, like, it's called The three fifths compromise for a reason. But it doesn't stand alone. Missouri Compromise. Kansas-Nebraska Act."

He said Abraham Lincoln and the Republican Party's first presidential platform was a compromise between abolition and expansion.

"Lincoln was not an abolitionist," Coates argued. "He proposed to limit slavery's expansion, not end it. During the Civil War, Lincoln repeatedly sought to compromise by paying reparations -- to slaveholders -- and shipping blacks out the country."

Coates argued that same spirit of compromise outlived Lincoln, who asked "only 10 percent of voters in rebel states to sign loyalty oath for readmission to Union" after the war.

"'Compromise' continued long after Lincoln's death," he continued. "Compromise of 1877 led to explicit White Supremacist rule in the South for a century. As historian David Blight pointed out 'compromise' with white supremacy was how the country achieved reunion."

Coates pointed out that these historical compromises were hardly obscure and inaccessible, and he pulled the cover off Kelly's implicitly racist argument against applying today's standards to the past.

Coates said half or more of the populations of Confederate states were black people who knew firsthand how wrong slavery was -- so it's impossible to argue that majorities were unaware of its immorality.

"But, like, when the 'adult in the room' believes a war for slavery was honorable," Coates continued, "believes that the torturer of humans, vendor of people, who led that war was honorable, when that dude portrays a sitting member of Congress as some shucking and jiving hustler, when he sticks by that portrayal of a black women, in the face of clear video evidence, when he has so descended into the dream, You really do see the effect of white supremacy."