Nikki Haley Is Under Fire for Explaining the Civil War Without Mentioning Slavery


Dec. 28 2023, Published 11:12 a.m. ET

Nikki Haley during a Q&A event in Iowa.
Source: Getty Images

The Gist:

  • Nikki Haley explained the Civil War during a recent Q&A and didn't mention slavery.
  • She emphasized the way the war had been fought over differences in opinion about how government should function.
  • The questioner admitted that they were astonished she hadn't mentioned slavery, and the clip has since gone viral online.
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Whenever you're discussing the American Civil War, it seems more than appropriate to also mention slavery, which most experts agree was the reason the conflict began. Presidential candidate Nikki Haley is coming under fire for choosing to explain how the conflict began without mentioning slavery a single time.

At an event in Berlin, N.H., Haley offered a different explanation for how the conflict began. Following the backlash that has come from her remarks, many want to better understand what she said and what she thinks caused the Civil War.

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Nikki Haley during a Q&A with voters in Iowa.
Source: Getty Images

What does Nikki Haley think the cause of the Civil War was?

Haley explained that the Civil War was fought over “basically how the government was going to run” and “freedoms and what people could and couldn't do." Haley, who is a former governor of South Carolina, the first state to secede from the Union, then turned the question around on the person who asked it. "I'm not running for president," the person who asked the question responded.

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“I think it always comes down to the role of government and what the rights of the people are," she explained. "And we will always stand by the fact that I think the government was intended to secure the rights and freedoms of the people. It was never meant to be all things to all people. Government doesn't need to tell you how to live your life. They don't need to tell you what you can and can't do. They don't need to be a part of your life. They need to make sure that you have freedom.”

The questioner then said that she thought it was "astounding" that Haley had given an answer that said nothing about slavery. "What do you want me to say about slavery?” Haley asked before she quickly pivoted to the next question.

A clip of the answer went viral on social media, and President Joe Biden responded to it by saying that "it was about slavery."

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While experts acknowledge that there were many issues behind the secession of Southern states from the Union in the early 1860s, the ultimate reason underlining them all was the question of slavery. South Carolina cited President Lincoln's policies regarding slavery and his refusal to enforce the Fugitive Slave Laws as core reasons for the state's decision to secede.

Haley, who has been surging in recent New Hampshire polls, may not have answered the question the way many on the left would like. Although her answer may have been factually untrue or incomplete, it remains unclear whether voters will ultimately care about this controversy.

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