President Donald Trump thinks the Civil War could have been prevented under different leadership.
If President Andrew Jackson had still been in power, the war wouldn’t have even happened, Trump told the Washington Examiner’s Salena Zito last week. She shared the audio from her interview on SiriusXM P.O.T.U.S.’s “Main Street Meets the Beltway” on Monday.
“I mean, had Andrew Jackson been a little bit later, you wouldn’t have had the Civil War,” Trump said. “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.’”
“Why could that one not have been worked out?” Trump asked.
Trump may have been awkwardly alluding to the nullification crisis of the 1830s, while Jackson was president. At that time, South Carolina declared that individual states had the right to reject federal laws they believed to be contrary to their own interests.
Many historians view the standoff as a precursor to the disputes over slavery and federal authority that came to a head during the Civil War. President Abraham Lincoln invoked Jackson’s efforts against rebellious South Carolinians (who tried to raise an army against him) as precedent for some of his own actions during the war.
Jackson, who died 16 years before the Civil War started, was also an unrepentant slave owner ― so it’s not clear how he would have viewed a secession crisis sparked by the outright abolition of slavery.
Trump has frequently compared himself to Jackson and appears to be fascinated with the seventh president.
“My campaign and win was most like Andrew Jackson, with his campaign,” Trump said. “And I said, when was Andrew Jackson? It was 1828. That’s a long time ago.”
Trump chose to hang a portrait of Jackson to the left of his desk in the Oval Office because “his campaign and my campaign tended to mirror each other,” he told CBS News in an interview that aired on Monday.
He also visited Jackson’s grave in Nashville last month, angering members of the Cherokee Nation whose ancestors were forcibly displaced and disenfranchised by Jackson’s policies, including the infamous “Trail of Tears” in which thousands died.
During his visit, Trump told the crowd: “It was during the revolution that Jackson first confronted and defied an arrogant elite. Does that sound familiar?”
Zach Carter contributed reporting.