Donald Trump claims to be an admirer of President Andrew Jackson. He recently visited his home in Tennessee and on occasion has reflected on Jackson’s significance. I would prefer that the president remain silent on historical matters generally. Today is a wonderful example of our president’s utter ignorance of basic American history.
Here is what he had to say in an interview about the possibility that had Andrew Jackson’s presidency occurred later the Civil War could have been avoided.
ZITO: That’s right. You were in Tennessee.
TRUMP: And it was amazing. The people of Tennessee are amazing people. They love Andrew Jackson. They love Andrew Jackson in Tennessee.
ZITO: He’s fascinating.
TRUMP: I mean, had Andrew Jackson been a little later, you wouldn’t have had the Civil War. He was a very tough person, but he had a big heart. He was really angry that he saw what was happening with regard to the Civil War. He said, “There’s no reason for this.” People don’t realize, you know, the Civil War — if you think about it, why? People don’t ask that question, but why was there a Civil War? Why could that one not have been worked out?
I guess the first thing to notice is just how muddled an explanation this is. Once again, when it comes to a simple historical explanation the president appears to be completely incapable of formulating a coherent thought. This worries me for a number of reasons.
For someone who claims to admire Jackson’s presidency Trump seems not to be aware of the fact that Jackson did risk civil war during the Nullification Crisis. He was willing to enforce federal law against South Carolina over the issue of the tariff. The crisis was averted, but there was a crisis nonetheless.