Trump Takes Latest Stab At Historical Analysis: ‘Why Was There The Civil War?’

President Donald Trump answers a question from a member of the media during a luncheon with Argentine President Mauricio Macri in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, April 27, 2017.  (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

President Donald Trump on Monday questioned why the Civil War occurred: “Why could that one not have been worked out?”

In an interview with Washington Examiner reporter Salena Zito on SiriusXM show “Main Street Meets the Beltway,” Trump compared his campaign and election victory — now over for more than six months — to those of Andrew Jackson, an analogy Trump has courted since his inauguration.

“They said my campaign is most like, my campaign and win, was most like Andrew Jackson,” Trump said. “I said, ‘When was Andrew Jackson?’ It was 1828. That’s a long time ago.”

The comparison might be less apt than Trump would like. Before Jackson was elected president, he killed a man he accused of insulting his wife in a duel.

Trump appeared to praise Jackson, a slaveholder who was accused of slave trading and who owned approximately 150 people at the time of his death, as a “swashbuckler.”

“Had Andrew Jackson been a little later, you wouldn’t have had the Civil War,” Trump said. “He was a very tough person, but he had a big heart.” (Jackson engineered the deaths of thousands of Native Americans while he was in office.)

“He was really angry that he saw what was happening with regard to the Civil War, he said, ‘There’s no reason for this,'” Trump continued. “People don’t realize, you know, the Civil War, you think about it, why? People don’t ask that question, but why was there the Civil War? Why could that one not have been worked out?”

In fact, Jackson died in 1845, long before the Civil War began in 1861, when seven southern slave states seceded after President Abraham Lincoln won election on a platform opposing the expansion of slavery into the territories. A total of 11 states eventually formed the Confederate States of America.

Trump’s last unsuccessful foray into the history of slavery in the United States fell flat when he described 19th-century black abolitionist leader, social reformer and writer Frederick Douglass as “somebody who has done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Esme Cribb is a newswriter for TPM in New York City. She can be found on Twitter @emquiry and reached by email at esme@talkingpointsmemo.com.
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