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Trump thinks Andrew Jackson would have prevented the Civil War

New York Daily News logo New York Daily News 1/05/2017 ADAM EDELMAN
Donald Trump © JIM WATSON / AFP Donald Trump

Taking a stab at revisionist history, President Trump said in an interview Monday that he thinks slave-owning former President Andrew Jackson would have been able to prevent the Civil War — and wondered why the catastrophic conflict occurred in the first place.

"Had Andrew Jackson been a little bit later, you wouldn't have had the Civil War," Trump told SiriusXM about the seventh President, who left office 24 years before, and died 16 years before the onset of the American Civil War.

"He was a very tough person, but he had a big heart, and he was really angry that he saw what was happening with regard to the Civil War," Trump told the satellite radio station's “Main Street Meets the Beltway” program, before questioning why the enormous war over slavery happened at all.

"He said, there's no reason for this. People don't realize, you know, the Civil War, you think about it, why?" Trump said. "People don't ask that question."

"But why was there the Civil War. Why would that one not have been worked out?" he added.

Jackson was in office from 1829 to 1837 and died in 1845. The Civil War broke out 16 years after Jackson's death, on April 12, 1861, when Fort Sumter, in South Carolina, was attacked.

While divisions among pro- and anti-slavery elements in the young union were certainly already prevalent during the Jackson administration, there is zero evidence that Jackson had absolutely anything to do with the war that would break out a full 24 years after he left office. Historians, however, have pointed out that, as President, Jackson stopped an earlier attempt by South Carolina to secede by threatening to send military troops to the Palmetto State.

In addition, Jackson, a native of the Carolinas who began his political career in Tennessee, was a southerner at heart who owned slaves.

He was most well-known for forcing Native Americans from their homes in what became known as the Trail of Tears and for being a decorated veteran who served in the War of 1812.

Trump has been frequently compared to the former President, due to their shared their reputations as outsiders wanting to defy the political establishment, their populist styles, their reliance on advice from non-governmental officials (Jackson had a slate of advisers called the "Kitchen Cabinet") and their shared confrontational relationship with the media.

But despite a raft of unfavorable information about Jackson and his role in American history, Trump has nevertheless welcomed the comparison. He has hung a portrait of Jackson in the Oval Office and last month paid homage to Jackson by marking the seventh President's 250th birthday with a visit to his Tennessee home and final resting place.

Trump continued to embrace that comparison during his interview with SiriusXMPolitics.

"They said my campaign is most like ... like Andrew Jackson with his campaign," he told the satellite radio station, before launching into a story about the occasion when he learned of Jackson's political career.

Charmaine Yoest testifies on Capitol Hill in 2010. - Matt Rourke/AP Photo © Provided by New York Daily News Charmaine Yoest testifies on Capitol Hill in 2010. - Matt Rourke/AP Photo

"And I said, 'when was Andrew Jackson?' It was 1828. That's a long time ago, "Trump said.

"That's Andrew Jackson. And he had a very, very mean and nasty campaign … Because they said this was the meanest and the nastiest. And unfortunately it continues," Trump said.

"His wife died," Trump added, referring to the 1828 death of Rachel Jackson, whose demise historian have, in fact, credited in part to the stress of the election.

"They destroyed his wife and she died," he said.

"And you know, he was a swashbuckler," Trump continued. "But when you wife died, you know, he visited her grave every day."

"He was a very tough person, but he had a big heart, and he was really angry that he saw what was happening with regard to the Civil War," Trump said. - Carolyn Kaster/AP © Provided by New York Daily News "He was a very tough person, but he had a big heart, and he was really angry that he saw what was happening with regard to the Civil War," Trump said. - Carolyn Kaster/AP

Trump's eye-popping history gaffe, however, is far from his first.

In February, during a White House listening session with African-American leaders in honor of Black History Month, he appeared to not understand that Frederick Douglass, the famous slave-turned-abolitionist, had died long ago.

"Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who's done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more, I notice," he said.

Weeks later, at a GOP fundraiser, he appeared to suggest that he hadn't known, until recently, that Abraham Lincoln was a Republican.

"Great President. Most people don't even know he was a Republican, right? Does anyone know?" he said.

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