The former president’s comments were widely condemned and follow rival presidential candidate Nikki Haley’s recent controversy surrounding her response when asked about the cause of the Civil War.
Trump, the negotiator
Former President Donald Trump recently suggested at a Newton, Iowa, rally that the American Civil War could have been “negotiated”. Trump’s comments came ahead of the state’s caucuses on January 15.
Trump is currently the frontrunner by a wide margin in the race to secure the GOP nomination for the 2024 presidential election.
Speaking about the Union and Confederacy’s 1861–1865 conflict, he told his Newton crowd of supporters, “I’m so attracted to seeing it. There was something that could’ve been negotiated… Abraham Lincoln, if he negotiated it, we wouldn’t know who Lincoln was. He wouldn’t have been the Abraham Lincoln. But that would’ve been OK.”
If only Trump were in charge…
Trump has long promoted himself as a consummate negotiator and claimed the previous night at another rally that “all the dead” people in Gaza and Ukraine wouldn’t have lost their lives if he were president to settle the conflicts.
The comments provoked outrage on social media, with politicians and journalists, including Liz Cheney, responding to Trump. Former representative Cheney posted on X, “Which part of the Civil War ‘could have been negotiated’? The slavery part? The secession part? Whether Lincoln should have preserved the Union?”
The vocal Trump critic continued, “Question for members of the GOP—the party of Lincoln—who have endorsed Donald Trump: How can you possibly defend this?”
Columnist Ahmed Baba wrote on X, “There is no compromise on whether or not Black people should be enslaved. They tried that with the Missouri Compromise—it only separated slave states and free states and led to the Civil War. So no, slavery couldn’t have been ‘negotiated.’ It was slavery or no slavery.”
Radio host asks for Trump’s terms
Sirius XM host Michelangelo Signorile commented, “This is one of the most insane things Trump has said. Could have negotiated slavery? Would love to hear the terms of that negotiation.”
Trump’s comments follow former South Carolina governor and GOP presidential rival candidate Nikki Haley’s controversial response when asked what caused the Civil War.
Missed the mark
Instead of answering “slavery,” Nikki replied, “I think the cause of the Civil War was basically how the government was going to run, the freedoms, and what people could and couldn’t do.”
Trump mocks Haley
Trump criticized Haley’s comments, telling a crowd of supporters in Mason City, Iowa, “I don’t know that it’s going to have an impact, but I’d say slavery is sort of the obvious answer.”
Poor choice of words
Haley later walked back her response, conceding that she “should have said slavery” when asked about the cause of the Civil War. But her failure to initially cite it attracted criticism from President Biden to civil rights leader Rev. Dr. William Barber, II, and DNC chair Jaime Harrison.
Haley clarifies comments
In her subsequent apology, Haley commented, “Of course, the Civil War was about slavery. We know that, that’s the easy part. What I was saying was what does it mean to us today? It was about individual freedom, it was about economic freedom… Our goal is to make sure we never go back to the stain of slavery, but what’s the lesson in all of that?”