Donald Trump says Civil War could have been avoided

FILE - In this March 31, 2017 file photo, a portrait of former President Andrew Jackson hangs on the wall behind President Donald Trump, accompanied by Vice President Mike Pence, in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington. President Donald Trump made puzzling claims about Andrew Jackson and the Civil War in an interview, suggesting that he was uncertain about the origin of the conflict while claiming that Jackson was upset about the war that started more than a decade after his death.  (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)
Caption
FILE - In this March 31, 2017 file photo, a portrait of former President Andrew Jackson hangs on the wall behind President Donald Trump, accompanied by Vice President Mike Pence, in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington. President Donald Trump made puzzling claims about Andrew Jackson and the Civil War in an interview, suggesting that he was uncertain about the origin of the conflict while claiming that Jackson was upset about the war that started more than a decade after his death. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

Credit: Andrew Harnik

Credit: Andrew Harnik

President Donald Trump, whose public admiration of former President Andrew Jackson is well-known and evident by the portrait he keeps of the seventh president in the Oval Office, said in an interview on Monday that he believes Jackson could have prevented the Civil War.

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Trump’s analysis quickly drew criticism for its apparent historical illiteracy about Jackson’s life and tenure in the White House or the causes of the Civil War.

Here are five facts about Andrew Jackson:

1. Andrew Jackson died on June 8, 1845, at his plantation in the slave state of Tennessee.

“I mean, had Andrew Jackson been a little bit later, you wouldn’t have had the Civil War,” Trump said Monday.

Most critiques of Trump’s quote point out that Jackson couldn’t have stopped the Civil War because it started about 16 years after he died.

But let's give Trump the benefit of the doubt and assume that he meant, "Had Jackson been born later, he could have stopped the Civil War." That, however, brings us to the next point: Jackson fiercely supported a strong union and a central government to the point of preparing military action against South Carolina in 1832.

2. Jackson once dispatched Navy warships into Charleston Harbor to put a stop to talk of secession.

The Nullification Crisis of 1828 arose when Congress passed high tariffs designed to protect northern industry, but southern planters believed that the taxes ultimately hurt their cotton trade. When the South Carolina Legislature voted to nullify the federal tax as well as a subsequent lowering of the tariffs in 1832, Jackson sent Navy ships into Charleston and threatened to hang anyone who worked to support nullification or secession. His vice president, John C. Calhoun of South Carolina, soon resigned to become his state's U.S. senator.

Based on Jackson’s history in office, and the additional crises that erupted between North and South over the next 30 years, it’s unlikely that Jackson would have been able or would have even wanted to stop the Civil War.

3. Jackson was nicknamed “Old Hickory” because he was as tough as the wood that was used to beat people.

Trump said of Jackson: “He was a very tough person, but he had a big heart.”

The Native Americans whom Jackson evicted from their tribal homelands in Florida and Georgia would tell a different story. After Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act of 1830 into law, more than 45,000 Native Americans were relocated to the West during his administration.

4. Jackson hated the Electoral College.

Although Trump continues to trumpet his own electoral college win, Jackson repeatedly lobbied Congress to abolish the Electoral College, likely because of the "corrupt bargain" struck during the election of 1824 that denied him the presidency in his first run for the White House.

Jackson won the popular vote, but he didn’t have a majority in electoral votes in his race with John Quincy Adams. The election was thrown to the U.S. House, led by Speaker Henry Clay.

Jackson lost the vote, and President-elect Adams made Clay his secretary of state. Jackson was elected president outright in 1828 with 56 percent of the popular vote.

5. In one of his last acts as president, Jackson formally recognized the Republic of Texas.

But Jackson held off on recognizing the Republic of Texas, which had legalized slavery, until after the election of 1836 to increase the chances that his vice president, Martin Van Buren, would win. Jackson wanted to avoid making slavery a bigger issue in the 1836 campaign, so Jackson didn't recognize Texas until the last full day of his presidency, March 3, 1837.

Before Trump’s interview with the Washington Examiner’s Salena Zito aired on SiriusXM satellite radio, a partial transcript highlighting the Jackson quote appeared on Twitter, courtesy of Politico correspondent Edward-Isaac Dovere.