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The Left’s Rewriting of History In Attacks Against John Kelly

The Left’s Rewriting of History In Attacks Against John Kelly

It used to be that history was set on a recording of events, you would look up the writings and documentation of the time to figure out the reason for the historic event, then come to a conclusion based on the documentation set before you, this was how we in school were taught, it is how many of us taught the subject,  we would implore the need to not bring emotions into historical records, if you did you would find many times what you wanted and what actually happened would be in conflict with each other, today that is seen as the only means of judging history by many on the left, but then it seems to be the way of much in the science today. The thought of rewriting history was against everything we were taught, sadly not so much any longer. 

I watched the outrage yesterday when John Kelly, who had studied military history while leading men as a marine, in a interview said, “I will tell you that Robert E Lee was an honorable man, he was a man who gave up his country to fight for his state, in those days the state was more important than the country, it was always loyal to the state first in those days.” The left heard this, they then trotted out historians that seemed to have forgotten the guiding principle of history and started to attack.

You had statements from historians like this:

“That statement could have been given by [former Confederate general] Jubal Early in 1880,” said Stephanie McCurry, a history professor at Columbia University and author of “Confederate Reckoning: Politics and Power in the Civil War South.”

“What’s so strange about this statement is how closely it tracks or resembles the view of the Civil War that the South had finally got the nation to embrace by the early 20th century,” she said. “It’s the Jim Crow version of the causes of the Civil War. I mean, it tracks all of the major talking points of this pro-Confederate view of the Civil War.”

She could not be more wrong, what we have is a typical revisionist story as she tries to rewrite history, what is more, even she in this statement  says, “It was not about slavery, it was about honorable men fighting for honorable causes?” McCurry said. “Well, what was the cause? . . . In 1861, they were very clear on what the causes of the war were. The reason there was no compromise possible was that people in the country could not agree over the wisdom of the continued and expand enslavement of millions of African Americans.” She goes on and states, even though this was with slavery as a root cause, the real cause, state rights, exactly as Kelly stated, that and their refusal to compromise, in her own words, “The reason there was no compromise possible was that people in the country could not agree over the wisdom of the continued and expand enslavement of millions of African Americans.”

This was not a narrative as she and much of the left are stating, in the election held leading up to Lincoln taking office the whole conflict was over state’s rights, while Lincoln has said that the compromises given by his predecessor President Buchanan were made to keep peace with the South, he and others were unwilling to make any more, he and most in the North demanded a stop to any expansion of slavery, such a stance was not something he came to right away, he was after all born in a slave state, Kentucky. To look at this issue more closely we need to look deeper into Lincoln.

Election to Congress in 1854 and the Mexican War brought the issue of the expansion of slave territory to the nation’s attention. Lincoln formed a clearer position on slavery. He was opposed to black equality and had no intention of disturbing slavery in slave states. However, he recognized that slavery was wrong and should not be allowed to spread to new states. At Peoria, Illinois, on October 16, 1854, Lincoln stated that he thought that the repeal of the Missouri Compromise, which outlawed slavery in Nebraska and Kansas was wrong. He said that it also was wrong in its basic principle, that of allowing slavery to spread to every part of the world where men can take it. This apparent change in his position developed as Lincoln gained political maturity, saw more aspects of slavery such as the slave markets in the South and formed a more “national” view of issues as a result of serving in Congress.

In 1858 in his run for Senate against a rather spirited man of small stature, he ran as a Democrat, Lincoln from the newly created Republican party who had as its platform a stand against slavery (this was different from the Republicans they had earlier in the nation’s history, the party as we know it now rose out of a small town in Wisconsin named Ripon), some men who were opposed to the  Compromise of 1850 started up a new political movement that grew into the Republican party. Prior to this time, Lincoln was part of the Whig party, but due to the slit within the party over slavery, and after Lincoln had lost his bid to the Senate seat to Douglas he started to lean more and more towards the anti-slavery camp. This was most notably shown in his 1852 eulogy for Henry Clay [1] focused on the latter’s support for gradual emancipation and opposition to “both extremes” on the slavery issue.

When Lincoln took office he was firmly opposed to any compromise in regard to the expansion of slavery, but he did not at the time intend to end it upon taking office, instead pushed to try to put in place a slow phasing in of an emancipation proclamation, stop all slavery shipping from Africa, then stop slave trafficking, finally to end up with all new children born into slavery would be born free. It was the civil war that hurried this up, he knew, as he did prior to him taking office, the south was set up in such a way that its economy would have totally collapsed with the removal of the institution, so he and others were trying to put in place slower drawdowns of the halting of this institution so as to prevent exactly what ended up happening anyway, a split in the nation.

In the end, neither Lincoln nor the South looked at this as a split over just slavery, although it was an important element, it was more the rights of self-determination of the states, this was what the fight was over, at the time the federal government was for the most part only in charge of the military, international commerce, and forging diplomatic ties, the states were vehemently opposed to any encroachment by the federal government on what was  seen as state sovereignty, this did include slavery.

Now in regards to people like Robert E Lee and others, Lee was a hero of the Mexican American war, wanted his state to not cede from the union, but in the end left to join his state as senior military counsel to the Confederacy president Jefferson Davis, who himself was a Senator for Mississippi before serving as Sec. of War under Franklin Pierce.

Grand and Lee worked very closely together in that war, later they went their opposite way, but knew of each other as they grew in rank. At the onset of the secession of the states, Lee, like many, was opposed to the breakup, writing in a letter:

The South, in my opinion, has been aggrieved by the acts of the North, as you say. I feel the aggression, and am willing to take every proper step for redress. It is the principle I contend for, not an individual or private benefit. As an American citizen, I take great pride in my country, her prosperity, and institutions, and would defend any State if her rights were invaded. But I can anticipate no greater calamity for the country than a dissolution of the Union. It would be an accumulation of all the evils we complain of, and I am willing to sacrifice everything but honor for its preservation. I hope, therefore, that all constitutional means will be exhausted before there is a resort to force. Secession is nothing but revolution. The framers of our Constitution never exhausted so much labor, wisdom, and forbearance in its formation, and surrounded it with so many guards and securities, if it was intended to be broken by every member of the Confederacy at will. It was intended for “perpetual union,” so expressed in the preamble, and for the establishment of a government, not a compact, which can only be dissolved by revolution, or the consent of all the people in convention assembled.[2]

Lee joined the Confederacy reluctantly, at the time felt it was a matter of honor to follow your state, exactly as  president Taylor (who was elected in as Confederate Congressman), you had President Fillmore who while he did not join the Confederacy, lived in New York and was opposed to Lincoln and the emancipation proclamation, worked behind the scenes trying to subvert what Lincoln was doing (sound familiar?). Naturally, we never speak of these men, but they too, more specifically Taylor, did what he thought was supportive of his state. While he may have served as president, he like many others felt their first loyalty should lay with the state, not the federal government.

Now in regards to the civil war was being fought over slaves, that is incorrect, in fact there were no plans or working in place to free slaves until the Emancipation Proclamation, that was 2 years after the start of the civil war, although it was understood that if the North did win the war they would have forced the emancipation, would have been a slower process, after two years though the nation had enough, Lincoln in Sept of 1862 told the Southern states they had until January of 1863 to lay down their arms and stop fighting or the emancipation would go into effect the first day of January.

As we can see, while the practice of slavery was horrible, contrary to what the progressive left is telling you, it was the democrats that fought the war to keep slaves, it was the fact that the war was not fought over slavery, although it was very much a contributing cause, the war was fought over state rights. We may wish to think that the war from the first minute it was fought was to end slavery, but that is not now, nor ever has been true, does not matter how uncomfortable it makes you, nor were most men from the south fighting for the sake of slavery, only about 7.8% of the people in the South owned slaves, the vast majority of the men fighting never owned a slave, could have cared less about it. I know the Democrats hate it, but it was the Republicans that fought to stop slavery, the majority of the lives lost and blood spilled was by whites to end this detestable practice, and they were fighting the Democrats. It was the same democrats who after the war then set up Jim Crow laws, fought against the Voting rights of women, they had to wait for states to put in Republican governors to pass the votes through to get that amendment passed, it was the republicans that Kennedy and later Johnson turned to due to Southern Democrat opposition to pass civil rights bills through, the same party who until recently had a Grand Cyclops of the KKK serving in the Senate, who Hillary said was her mentor, Senator Byrd, the man who fought against the civil rights, tried to filibuster any legislation that was passed through, yet listening to the left’s mockery of history after they have rewritten history, you would think he was a civil rights champion the way they are telling it (he was, for the KKK).

The left may want to rewrite their history, yet the reality is when you take the nice painted exterior they have so carefully re-crafted and break it open, it still has the pungent odor of racism emanating from it, open it up more and you see the sludge from swamp oozing out.

  1. White Jr., Ronald C. (2009). A. Lincoln: A Biography. Random House, Inc. ISBN 978-1-4000-6499-1 (pg 130-131)
  2. J. William Jones (1906). “Robert E. Lee to George Washington Custis Lee” (PDF). The Civil War: The First Year Told By Those Who Lived It. The Library of America, 2011. Retrieved 19 November 2016.




About The Author

Timothy Benton

Student of history, a journalist for the last 2 years. Specialize in Middle East History, more specifically modern history with the Israeli Palestinian conflict. Also, a political commentator has been a lifetime fan of politics.

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