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John Kelly says lack of compromise led to Civil War, warns against sanitizing US history

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John Kelly, White House chief of staff, told Fox News' Laura Ingraham on Monday that a "lack of ability to compromise" is what led to the Civil War and that removing Confederate monuments is a "dangerous" sanitization of American history.

What exactly did Kelly say?

During the debut episode of Ingraham's new Fox show, "The Ingraham Angle," Kelly revealed his thoughts on Civil War-era issues after Ingraham asked him what he thought of the removal of plaques honoring former President George Washington and Gen. Robert E. Lee at a Virginia church.

"I think we make a mistake, though, and as a society and certainly as, as individuals, when we take what is today accepted as right and wrong and go back 100, 200, 300 years or more and say: 'What Christopher Columbus did was wrong,'" Kelly said.

"You know, 500 years later, it’s inconceivable to me that you would take what we think now and apply it back then," he continued.

"I would tell you that Robert E. Lee was an honorable man," he added, noting that Lee made a decision to give up his country to fight for his state.

"It was always loyalty to state first back in those days," Kelly explained. "Now it’s different today. But the lack of an ability to compromise led to the Civil War. And men and women of good faith on both sides made their stand where their conscience had to make their stand."

Kelly later addressed monument removal with Ingraham and said, "There are certain things in history that were not so good and other things that were very, very good. I mean, human history, our culture is an evolving thing."

"There will be 100 or 200 years from now people that criticize us for what we do, and I guess they’ll tear down, you know, statues of people that we revere today," he added.

Was there backlash?

In addition to regular social media outcry, the Rev. Martin Luther King's youngest daughter, Bernice King, attacked white supremacy in a Tuesday tweet, and targeted Kelly with a later message.

"It’s irresponsible & dangerous, especially when white supremacists feel emboldened, to make fighting to maintain slavery sound courageous," King wrote.

She later added, "When Sally Hemings is labeled a 'mistress,' while Robert E. Lee is described as an 'honorable man,' we know truth is being shunned."

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