The events of November 10, 1898 in Wilmington, North Carolina provide added contraction to the recent claim by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly that the U.S. Civil War resulted from a failure to "compromise."
On that Thursday nearly 120-years ago a rampaging mob led by a former Confederate Army officer unleashed the only successful insurrection in American history with the violent overthrow of Wilmington's legitimately elected municipal government.
During that insurrection -- allowed to stand by state and federal authorities -- dozens of African-Americans were murdered. Insurrectionists ordered hundreds to leave that coastal city including liberal whites the insurrectionists felt embraced blacks by respecting the rights the U.S. Constitution extended to all including blacks.
Those Wilmington insurrectionists had no desire for compromise because their intent was control through white supremacy. Since those insurrectionists sought to reestablish pre-Civil War total political and economic dominance for whites over blacks, no compromise was acceptable.
The "White Declaration of Independence" issued by those Wilmington insurrectionists asserted whites in that area would, "never again be ruled" by blacks. That Declaration's "never again" phrase was unequivocal evidence the insurrectionists had no desire to compromise.
The stance of those Wilmington, N.C. insurrectionists, cemented in white supremacy, was similar to sentiments of the Confederates who launched an armed revolt against the authority of the United States government in April 1861.
Confederates disregarded an attempted compromise in the form of a planned amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would have barred Congress from outlawing slavery. Congress approved that constitution changing amendment -- known as the Corwin Amendment -- weeks before Confederates attacked a U.S. Army fort in Charlestown, SC that started the Civil War. That war stopped the ratification process of the Corwin Amendment by individual states as required by the Constitution.
That failure to compromise claim of Kelly, uttered during a recent interview on FOX News, evidenced extraordinary ignorance of American history from a man who was once a ranking general in the U.S. Marine Corps and/or engrained bigotry in the brain of President Trump's right hand man.
Kelly's failure to compromise claim about the Civil War infers a false equivalence placing equal blame on officials in both the North and South. Evidence is clear that Southerners wanted white supremacy inclusive of slavery on their terms only. Kelly's false equivalence follows in the footsteps of President Trump's August utterance placing blame for the bloody, deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia equally on white racists and the counter-protestors.
During that FOX interview the White House Chief of Staff praised the leader of the Confederate Army, Robert E. Lee, as "an honorable man" -- a declaration that coddled Lee's status as a traitor to the U.S. Constitution that Kelly swears allegiance to uphold.
"To suggest anything honorable about the people who divided our nation in an effort to keep Black people enslaved isn't just offensive -- it's dishonorable," stated a recent email blast from the President of the NAACP, America's oldest civil rights organization founded in the wake of a white rampage against blacks ten years after the Wilmington insurrection.
The perception of political oppression from blacks proclaimed by the Wilmington insurrectionists in 1898 erupted from their blinding bigotry because whites at that time held the post of Wilmington's mayor, seven of the ten city council seats and the overwhelming majority of other Wilmington city government posts from city attorney to superintendent of schools to garbage collection.
"The overthrow or coup d'etat took place within the context of an ongoing statewide campaign based on white supremacy," stated a 500-page report issued in 2006 by a commission appointed by the North Carolina legislature to examine the long ignored insurrection in Wilmington.
The Commission's report particularly faulted "historians" for perpetuating the falsehood that violence by the insurrectionists "was necessary to restore order."