RWU professor specializing in race studies comments on General Kelly’s claim about the Civil War

BRISTOL, R.I., November 2, 2017 – A Roger Williams University professor who specializes in race studies is available to discuss White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly’s claim this week that “the lack of an ability to compromise led to the Civil War.”

In fact, Professor Aaron Allen said, the main cause of the Civil War was slavery, and Kelly’s remarks represent a re-articulation of the “Lost Cause” of the Confederacy, which, since the end of the Civil War, has sought to deny slavery as the primary impetus for secession.

“We need only examine many of the Confederate State’s own ‘Declaration of Causes of Seceding’ to discredit these claims,” Allen said. “As just one example, Mississippi’s declaration proclaimed ‘our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery.’ So if Kelly wants to make the point that Robert E. Lee, like others in the Confederacy, gave up their country for their state, let us acknowledge that the decision do so inherently placed slavery over emancipation.”

Also, Allen said, “What I find problematic about his comments is that the only people that seem to exist in his historical imagination are white. When he talks about ‘the men and women of good faith on both sides,’ enslaved blacks are certainly not part of his historical recollection. This is not about mapping present day morals onto the past. Surely, if we were to go back 200 years as he prompts us to do, enslaved blacks would most likely have a similar opinion that many of us have today — slavery as an institution is deplorable and must not exist. No comprises.”

Allen, an assistant professor of American Studies at Roger Williams University, received his doctorate from the University of Maryland and specializes in race studies, particularly issues connected to bi-racial and multi-cultural identities.