Nikki Haley Faces Criticism Following Civil War Comments

Gage Skidmore from Surprise, AZ, United States of America, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

( – During a recent town hall in New Hampshire, GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley, attracted criticism for avoiding attributing the Civil War to slavery, instead focusing on the broader issue of governmental roles. As reported by NBC News, Haley indicated that the war stemmed from debates over governmental authority and individual freedoms.

During the event, Haley was asked by an attendee to explain what caused the Civil War. Her reply focused on the “freedoms of what people could and couldn’t do,” along with capitalism and the government’s role in the country.

However, when a voter expressed surprise at Haley’s omission of the term “slavery” in her explanation of the Civil War’s causes, Haley asked, “What do you want me to say about slavery?” and moved on.

James Grossman, the executive director of the American Historical Association, was reported by The Washington Post saying that while Haley’s response mirrored the Southern states’ narrative about state rights, it lacked acknowledgment of their desire to preserve slavery — a factor widely recognized by scholars as central to the conflict.

President Joe Biden also weighed in on Haley’s comments, asserting in a post on social media that the Civil War was indeed about slavery.

Nikki Haley has previously navigated complex issues regarding race. In 2015, following a racially motivated shooting at a historically Black church in Charleston, she signed legislation to remove the Confederate flag from the State House grounds. This action marked a significant shift from her stance in 2010 when she opposed removing the flag and argued that her background as a minority female positioned her to address an NAACP boycott against the state.

Meanwhile, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, another presidential hopeful, shared the video of Haley’s town hall response, highlighting her failure to mention slavery. DeSantis himself has faced scrutiny over his comments on race and slavery, including his remarks about teaching the skills developed by slaves, which he later said had been misunderstood.

Haley spoke to “Good Morning New Hampshire” following her initial comments, addressing the issue again to clarify that “of course” slavery was at the center of the Civil War. She said her comments are meant as a reflection of what it “means to us” nowadays.

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