From The “Stop Making Me Defend Donald Trump” Files: The President’s Civil War Musings

It took Dan Rather to force me into this quagmire.

As you may have heard by now, the President was being interviewed and the topic of Andrew Jackson came up, the great, flawed, fascinating man who was the first populist President and who reshaped the Presidency and the American political system. Donald Trump quite logically identifies with Jackson, and if he can show half the governing skill and leadership abilities of Old Hickory, the U.S. will be ever in his debt. at one point, Trump said…

As we have seen again and again, if Donald Trump said that the sky was blue, pundits and journalist would erupt with indignation and mockery about the statement, because everyone knows that the sky isn’t blue, it just looks blue. This is the Left and “the resistance” telegraphing their complete abandonment of fairness, good will and proportion regarding the President of the United States. It is transparent, it is intellectually dishonest, and it is now boring and annoying, since it began more than  a year ago. In this case, talking heads who know virtually nothing about Andrew Jackson were screaming on CNN about how “stupid” Trump’s statement was. At The Washington Post,  Aaron Blake wrote in his essay, “Trump’s totally bizarre claim about avoiding the Civil War”:

Historians with more academic experience than Trump have indeed asked this question about the Civil War often… It’s generally assumed that a deal to avert the Civil War would have included concessions to Southern states having to do with their right to own slaves — the central dispute of the Civil War. Is Trump saying he would have been okay with a more partial or gradual phasing out of slavery? Was there really a deal to be cut on that front? Or does he think Jackson, a slave owner himself, would have convinced the South to abandon slavery immediately, somehow?

Ann Althouse nailed this one: if Trump’s question about the Civil War is so “bizarre,” how come historians have asked the question “often”?

The simple and ugly answer is to much of  Left and the news media,  what Trump says is presumptively stupid or sinister, even if others saying the exact same thing would be ruled reasonable and benign. (See: Loyalty Day)

But I am so tired of this game. Until a friend posted an attack on Trump’s statement by Dan Rather, I had decided to let this round pass. After Dan’s ignorant and biased take, I couldn’t stay on the sidelines.

He wrote on Facebook, the only forum regularly available to him because no legitimate news organization would sully its credibility by having a journalist who tried to influence a Presidential election by representing a forged document as authentic, and who still won’t admit that there was anything wrong with that…

I wanted to let this story go. I really did. I don’t want to be distracted from all the important things taking place. Where are we on the Russia investigation again?

But the sheer craziness of this obsession by Donald Trump with Andrew Jackson and the Civil War is a carnival act unlike anything I have ever seen at the White House. And not to let something drop, there is Mr. Trump on Twitter just recently pouring gasoline on the fires of his ignorance.

Never mind that Mr. Trump’s knowledge of American history seems below that of most gradeschoolers. Never mind that in many people’s view, Jackson is not exactly the kind of president, or man, you would want to hold up as an example. And never mind that there is an implicit criticism of arguably our greatest president, Abraham Lincoln. (It reminds me of his slam against John McCain and how war heroes aren’t captured. Apparently great presidents don’t wage a war to keep the Union together).

These are the rantings of someone who really should be focused on the job of governing. Should we not conclude that he approaches policy decisions with the same half-baked conspiracies with which he apparently approaches history?

To be President of the United States is to part of the great American story. To not understand that story is to not understand the presidency. Maybe Frederick Douglass can give Mr. Trump some advice. Apparently, he’s “an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is getting recognized more and more.”

This is a post that demonstrates Rather’s ignorance and poor reasoning, not President Trump’s.

Whether the Civil War could have been averted is an especially germane question for Trump to consider, given that the “resistance” is trying to divide the nation and to defy the rule of law and our institutions to such an extent that a second civil war looms as a possibility. Was Dan unaware of the violent protests yesterday in multiple U.S. cities, a continuation of the riots that occurred in D.C. during the President’s inauguration? The bitterly divided political climate leading up to the Civil War is very much worth considering today, and any other President who noted this publicly would be praised as thoughtful.

Whether or not Lincoln was correct in opposing the Confederacy by force has never stopped being a contested historical issue, notwithstanding Rather’s ridiculous assertion that daring to question Lincoln’s magnificence is like casting aspersions on prisoners of war. Only in hindsight was Lincoln’s fateful decision the right one according to conventional wisdom. This was pure moral luck: if the South had won, and as historian James McPherson has noted, it could have if any of a number of random decisions and strokes of fate been different than they were, Lincoln would be regarded as a failure.

To be fair and accurate, and Rather has no interest in either, Lincoln was not involved in the issue Trump raised at all. The South seceded almost the second Lincoln became President, and Abe’s election had been assured by the intentional split in the Democratic Party to force secession; this is why the Democratic Convention in Charleston is known as “the Secession Convention.”  Lincoln couldn’t have stopped the Civil War except by refusing to fight it,  allowing the nation to split in two. He made the necessary but risky decision to oppose the South’s exit with force, something he probably didn’t have explicit authority to do, but that doesn’t mean that before it came to that dire point averting the war would not have been the better course. 2% of the population, an estimated 620,000 men, lost their lives in the Civil War. Another half million were wounded. The scars of the war are not healed yet. Is it “stupid” to ask, in hindsight, whether a series of compromises that allowed the nation to remain united, avoid war, and wait for slavery to die a natural death—which it would have, just as it did in Western Europe– would have been preferable, better outcome? Perhaps it is a futile question in the sense that it is all hindsight speculation, but it is not a useless one not according to the purposes of historical analysis. What are the lessons of the Civil War? They may be useful to Trump, as he tries to govern despite national divisions nearly as bitter and desperate as those of the 1850s.

As for  President Jackson, Trump’s assessment is more historically astute than his current day critics who reflexively mouth the political correctness cant that Jackson’s one terrible policy choice, the brutal treatment of Native American peoples, outweighs all of his other major accomplishments. Jackson stopped the Union from disintegrating  decades earlier, by opposing the Nullification principle and making the national government and Presidency far stronger than it had been before him. Unlike Lincoln, Jackson kept the nation together without getting over a million men killed or wounded.

Could  Andrew Jackson have found a way to avert the Civil War? I don’t know, but I do know that among our Presidents, he is among only a handful who had the intelligence, fortitude, popularity and skill to do so. I guarantee that Barack Obama, to give one obvious counter example, would NOT have opposed secession, and would not have stood up to the South in the 1830s, as Jackson did. (Barack didn’t do confrontation. Oh, he might have said that firing on Fort Sumter would be a red line...) Neither would most of the Presidents between Jackson and Lincoln except Polk; Harrison and Taylor died too quickly for us to even make an informed guess.

As always, Trump’s off the cuff rhetoric was inept and garbled, and if you are willing to assume that he thinks Jackson lived to observe and regret the Civil War—I’m not—you concentrate on his questionable syntax rather than his meaning. I agree with Althouse that “with regard to the Civil War” means “with regard to the conditions that led to the Civil War.” Jackson was very familiar with those, for the dominated his entire administration. Ah, but where President Trump is concerned, the game is to make sure that whatever he says is interpreted in the way that will make him look the worst, and provide his critics with the easiest target.

I have studied Jackson and his Presidency, however, and like virtually everyone who has, I  know that he is the right President before Lincoln to focus upon if one is exploring a national approach that might have averted the Civil War catastrophe. Could Andy have pulled it off?  I doubt it.  Would JFK have escalated the war in Vietnam? Would Ike have blundered into the Cuban Missile Crisis? Would Taft have kept us out of The Great War? It we don’t return to these questions, we fail to learn the lessons of history…and you know what that means. Apparently, so does President Trump.

 

 

52 Comments

Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, Leadership

52 responses to “From The “Stop Making Me Defend Donald Trump” Files: The President’s Civil War Musings

  1. Love the commentary on the most exclusive club in human history: POTUS.

    Dan Rather is a bitter old man, and no one cares what he says.

    TDS victims gonna hate, if Trump speaks or not. What is the old story: If Trump walked on water, the press would report ‘President cannot swim!’

    • crella

      Quite a few liberals hail him as a truth-telling resistance fighter…his posts are shared over and over again. I’ve chosen the ‘see no posts from Dan Rather’ option.

  2. Jack,
    That was a great blog and well worth the time to read it.

  3. I’m glad you decided to write about this. I knew you would and was waiting patiently. Had I known you were thinking of *not* authoring an essay, I would have leaned on you. When it comes to presidential history lessons, I think an essay from you is mandatory, but don’t take that as me *telling you* what topics you ought to write about. Though I am.

  4. Other Bill

    Jack, what do you think of the theory that the Louisiana Purchase lands could have been sold or encumbered to generate enough cash to “buy out” the slave owners’ interests in their slaves and thereby end slavery without blood-shed. I suspect that’s the sort of thing the Art of the Deal guy in chief might have been thinking of. It’s a theory I’ve always found very interesting.

    • Sell to WHO? The Lousiana Purchase is the backbone of the the US as a major power. What a horrible idea.

      • Other Bill

        To settlers?

        • Other Bill

          It’s my understanding that some still extant large family fortunes in the Midwest were based on Civil War officers buying certificates for good sized tracts of land from enlisted soldiers who had been given the certificates for their service when they were discharged. Needless to say, the officers paid pennies on the dollar. So there was clearly a market for the land at the time and their was a heck of a lot of it.

  5. John Billingsley

    “Is Trump saying he would have been okay with a more partial or gradual phasing out of slavery? Was there really a deal to be cut on that front?

    Well I wonder if Lincoln would have been OK with gradual phasing out of slavery or cutting a deal. From a letter to Horace Greeley, “My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union.”

    • Of course, for the narrow, race-trumps-all, our way or the highway left, delaying the elimination of slavery a second is unthinkable, because they don’t want to think. But a more gradual transition may well have averted the racial problems we have today, involved no Jim Crow, and ultimately been in the best interests of all concerned. Tossing off the horrific results of the Civil War as just collateral damage is moronic.

      • Steve-O-in-NJ

        Those who think in moral absolutes tend to not be very practical, because to them everything that isn’t right as they see it is a grievous wrong and has to go, immediately. Slavery was wrong, but it was a fact, the same as a lot of other things have been facts, and uprooting them tends to have disruptive consequences. Several of the Founding Fathers were leaning toward freeing the slaves they owned, pensioning off those too old to live independently and training those young enough to live independently in some craft. The cotton gin bought slavery a new lease on life by making mass production of cotton viable. A few of the very rich invested in it, and became still richer.

        Constitutionally they still owned property, and, under the Fifth Amendment, if you were going to make a change that was going to strip people of a substantial investment in property, there was a problem. Could a deal have been struck? Maybe, but frankly I don’t think either the slaveowners or the abolitionists were interested in a deal – to the abolitionists the slaveowners were evil, and if they lost a big investment then they deserved it for their wickedness, and the slaveowners weren’t willing to put themselves at the mercy of those who thought they were evil.

    • What has to be kept in mind is that Lincoln had a draft of the Emancipation Proclamation in hand at that moment, and it was a legal document. It was not legal for him to act intentionally against slavery, because that was protected by both legislation and court decisions. As President, though, he could act against slavery only if the act was intended to preserve the Union. He could not, though, free all of the slaves because that would preempt the rights of other bodies, including Congress which was in control of the rules regarding occupation of reclaimed territory. It was only in the narrow geographic area where Lincoln had full authority to put down the rebellion that he could legally free slaves, and he went the full distance with respect to them.

    • deery

      Well I wonder if Lincoln would have been OK with gradual phasing out of slavery or cutting a deal.

      Lincoln did ponder it, of course. Pretty much all possible solutions were pondered.

      One idea that will not die is the notion that Lincoln could have purchased the slaves freedom and thus avoided the Civil War. This argument ignores many factors. Among them: the fact that slave masters actually liked being slave masters and believed their system to be a “positive good.” The fact that slavery was a social institution that granted benefits beyond hard cash. The fact that Lincoln tried compensated emancipation in Delaware and was rebuffed. The fact that no state was eager to have a large portion of black free people within its borders. But more than anything the argument ignores the fact that compensated emancipation was not economically possible. At all. https://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/06/no-lincoln-could-not-have-bought-the-slaves/277073/

      Graduated emancipation, as a general concept, makes some practical sense.

      Ethically though, it’s harder to justify. There were 4 million slaves at the beginning of the Civil War. Should we tell those enslaved people to wait a decade or two (or even much, much) longer and continue to be raped, beaten, stripped and sold, split from children, spouses, and family, and killed with impunity, indeed, under the color of law? Can we justify paying their captors and kidnappers for the “loss of their property”, and not pay those who were forced to work for free?

      All wars are tragedies, but I don’t think of the Civil War as one that is particularly tragic, no more than the Revolutionary War was tragic. Given the strong regional allegiances at the time, and the unsettled question of secession, it was going to happen sooner or later. At least the results of this conflict led to the freeing of the slaves. Most of the other precursor skirmishes would not have done that.

      • deery,

        I take exception with your source (surprise! 🙂 ) in how it characterizes and romanticizes the South and slavery.

        You see, many Northern states had not freed their slaves by the end of the war. Some states did not until the 13th Amendment’s ratification forced them to, months after the end of the Civil War. (Note that Delaware is not a Southern state, and they would not free their slaves in your source)

        Is the author is saying slaves were better off in the North? That there were not those in the North who treated their property as those in the South?

        Slaves were property, and expensive to own and maintain. You do not get the best work out of people by mistreating them, Hollywood portrayals to the contrary. Any business that abuses assets, be they earth moving equipment, stocks, or people, will go out of business. There were excesses (all around the world and throughout history) but not on the scale most people believe.

        Human nature does not change. Humans in the North were just like those in the South, and the range of behavior was similar. Just as it has been in all of human history, where slavery has been the norm and not the exception.

        • deery

          take exception with your source (surprise! ) in how it characterizes and romanticizes the South and slavery.

          You see, many Northern states had not freed their slaves by the end of the war. Some states did not until the 13th Amendment’s ratification forced them to, months after the end of the Civil War. (Note that Delaware is not a Southern state, and they would not free their slaves in your source)

          Is the author is saying slaves were better off in the North? That there were not those in the North who treated their property as those in the South?

          I don’t the author is saying that slaves were better off in the North. He just notes that even in the North, slave masters were unwilling to sell their slaves to allow the government to free them. Evidence that avoiding the Civil War by buying the slaves was just not going to work.

          Slaves were property, and expensive to own and maintain. You do not get the best work out of people by mistreating them, Hollywood portrayals to the contrary. Any business that abuses assets, be they earth moving equipment, stocks, or people, will go out of business. There were excesses (all around the world and throughout history) but not on the scale most people believe.

          Human nature does not change. Humans in the North were just like those in the South, and the range of behavior was similar. Just as it has been in all of human history, where slavery has been the norm and not the exception.

          Profit motive is the same everywhere. You feed, clothe, and house people the cheapest that you can to maximize profit. Slaves were not treated well. Deprivation was the order of the day. Widespread sexual assault and rape was common enough that about 20-40% of African-American males have a European Y chromosome. Families were routinely and forcibly split apart. Reading the reunification flyers after the Civil War, with people pleading for news of sold children, spouses, and family is truly heartbreaking. “Everybody does it”, is not a reason that suffices.

    • joed68

      I’ve seen a lot of debate about what Lincoln’s true feelings on slavery were. Of course, those who say he was disinterested point to this letter, while bleeding-hearts refer to his many public exhortations about slavery being a moral and humanitarian crisis. I believe the more private letter is closer to the truth. The two sentiments are incompatible, and someone who professed such strong and truly heart-felt feelings publicly would have a difficult time saying what he did in that letter.

  6. Chris

    Your interpretation of Trump’s statement about Jackson is fair and believable. However, I also find it believable that Trump legitimately did not know Jackson was dead by the time of the Civil War, because he is a deeply ignorant person. This is a problem. When someone speak as sloppily as Trump, it is evidence of sloppy thinking. And it leaves the door wide open for easy attacks. Trump has a responsibility to be more clear than this.

    And of course, saying “people don’t ask” why the Civil War happened is an incredibly stupid thing to say.

    But I was much more struck by this response to John Dickerson’s question about whether he stands by his baseless claim that he was wiretapped during the campaign:

    “RESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I don’t stand by anything. I just– you can take it the way you want. I think our side’s been proven very strongly. And everybody’s talking about it. And frankly it should be discussed. I think that is a very big surveillance of our citizens. I think it’s a very big topic. And it’s a topic that should be number one. And we should find out what the hell is going on.”

    Trump has had months to come up with something to say when asked this question. And this was the best he can do.

    The president is a moron.

    • I have never thought otherwise. The statement in question, however, does not show it, and the criticism like Rather’s is self-indicting.

      • Chris

        The statement “People don’t ask that question, but why was there the Civil War?” absolutely does show that he’s a moron.

        • It means he has read as many scholarly works on the topic as the people saying “Why couldn’t the Civil War have been prevented?” is a bizarre question. It is a very, very good question, and calling it bizarre is more moronic than not knowing “people ask” the question.

          • Chris

            No one said “Why couldn’t the Civil War have been prevented?” was a bizarre question. The WaPo article calls Trump’s claim bizarre. The question is a good one. Believing that it’s a unique one that has not been rehashed numerous times in history is moronic, on par with statements such as “Nobody knew that healthcare could be so complicated.”

            • Is that really the whole substance of the complaint? Now the meaning of what was said, or the question raised, but the off-hand suggestion that nobody asks the question? That’s not the basis on which the statement is being criticized or called “stupid” by CNN and others. they are offended that anyone would dare question whether the Civil War was unavoidable, or even undesirable.

              • Chris

                It’s the entire substance of my complaint. Blake’s complaint in the WaPo article goes a bit further, but it is not at all accurate to characterize it as being “offended that anyone would dare question whether the Civil War was unavoidable, or even undesirable,” nor is that an accurate characterization of the complaint by the speakers on the panel in the CNN segment you linked to.

        • John Billingsley

          In calling out Trump, Blake didn’t say people have asked the question often he said, “Historians with more academic experience than Trump have indeed asked this question about the Civil War often.” If he meant people, the same people Trump meant, why didn’t he say “people have indeed asked this question. . . “ rather than specifying historians with academic experience?

          Most people know little history beyond what they learned in school, if that, and for them history is something that just happened. Why did it happen that way? Because it is history and that’s the way it happened. If they think more deeply than that they will repeat what the think they learned in school or what someone told them. Why did the French Revolution start? Because some lady said “let them eat cake.” Why did WW I, assuming they know there was more than one, start? Some guy shot the duke or somebody. Where? Australia or someplace. Why was there a civil war in America? Northern answer, to free the slaves. Southern answer, there was no civil war there was a War of Northern Aggression against our state rights.

          I would be quite surprised if you found more than a very small percentage of “people” who had ever asked “why” in more than the most superficial fashion. More telling yet, I bet you couldn’t find very many people who had high school history who could honestly tell you that their teacher asked them to question why rather than just asking for feedback of memorized dates and whatever was written in the textbook. Even more frightening, I bet you would find very few people who took a history course at the university level who ask questions like that because they just accept what their professor told them along with whatever ideology accompanied it.

          • John Billingsley

            Whoops. Sorry missed the tag.

          • Nor do many ask whether it was juuuust a little bit reckless to bet the entire nation and all those lives on the Union being able to prevail. If the South had just retreated to its borders and dug in, as Longstreet wanted, the war might have dragged on beyond what the public was willing to tolerate. I doubt Lincoln, or anyone, expected such a bloody war, and if the North had, it might have refused to fight. The attitude that its racist to even suggest that is especially dim. The slaves were freed, but their status in the South was horrible for decades, and arguably no better. If slavery could have been resolved peacefully without all the death and bitterness, with today’s African Americans not suffering from the indignities of Jim Crow, would that, plus a million lives, been a better result? The historians I’ve heard condemning Trump won’t even consider the question—which makes them lousy, politicized historians.

            • Chris

              If slavery could have been resolved peacefully without all the death and bitterness, with today’s African Americans not suffering from the indignities of Jim Crow, would that, plus a million lives, been a better result? The historians I’ve heard condemning Trump won’t even consider the question—which makes them lousy, politicized historians.

              I’m not sure you’re hearing them correctly, Jack. Trump did not even mention slavery in his comments, so taking him to mean anything close to “slavery could have been resolved peacefully without war” seems like you’re projecting much deeper thoughts into his head than he has expressed.

              • John Billingsley

                No, Trump didn’t mention slavery but Aaron Blake made the issue of slavery a central point in his comments about Trump’s statement.

            • I would have to disagree on the Union’s chances of prevailing. Given the disparity in population, resources, industry, etc. the only realistic chance for the CSA to prevail was for the North to give up the struggle.

              By the spring of 1862, the South was already losing the war in the west and, given any sort of competent leadership for the Army of the Potomac, Richmond would have fallen during the peninsular campaign.

              Would that have ended the war right away? Probably not, but I think it would have been the beginning of the end. And that was before the Emancipation Proclamation, before the war was explicitly and irrevocably tied to ending slavery as well as restoring the Union. And, also, with only some tens of thousands of young men killed rather than over half a million.

              Who knows how our history would have developed from that point. I suspect slavery had already taken a body blow, perhaps a fatal one but, as you speculate, perhaps its ending would have resulted in a better legacy over the ensuing generations.

              • If the South had fought a defensive war, the North’s casualties, combined with its awful leadership in the early years, might well have caused the North to quit. The war was never popular. If the South had won Gettysburg and they easily could have, Lincoln might have lost the 1864 election. Then the North would have let the South go. It’s not an extreme scenario at all.

  7. Neil Dorr

    Jack,

    I couldn’t figure out an appropriate article to post this under, so here:

    http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/9772428

    Almost none of the anti-gun arguments are new or exceptional, except the one regarding self defense:

    “The main problem with the notion of self-defense is it imposes on justice, for everyone has the right for a fair trial. Therefore, using a firearm to defend oneself is not legal because if the attacker is killed, he or she is devoid of his or her rights.”

    KABOOM!

    • “The main problem with the notion of self-defense is it imposes on justice, for everyone has the right for a fair trial. Therefore, using a firearm to defend oneself is not legal because if the attacker is killed, he or she is devoid of his or her rights.”

      Neil, I’ve seen that argument before and it violates the individual human right of victims to exist. People that write such arguments are blithering idiots.

      If a person has to act in self defense against a violent criminal attacker then that persons human right to exist is being directly threatened by that violent criminal attacker and that is what that argument completely ignores. Their argument elevates the rights of the criminal attacker over the rights of the one defending their right to exist. Using their “logic” the one trying to defend their right to exist MUST allow themself to be martyred so the Constitutional rights of the human-rights-violating-criminals are not violated in hopes that the criminal will be caught and prosecuted before that criminal does the same thing to someone else.

    • philk57

      I first heard that ridiculous approach nearly 50 years ago. Not new, and not logical.

    • Ulrike

      I always argue that point as follows: If a person’s actions intentionally violate the “legally” agreed upon moral or ethical code of the society of which he is member, his claim to be protected by that same code expires exactly at the moment he decides to step outside that sphere and reject it.

  8. Wayne

    Trying to look objectively at whether Jackson might have helped avert the civil war I would probably say no for the following reasons: First, he was a slaveholder and he would have had to work with a newly elected Republican president who had considerable abolitionist support. Secondly, Jackson was quite elderly and not inclined to challenge a sitting president like Teddy Roosevelt challenged Wilson. But nobody can know for sure.

    • The time to make a deal would have been well before that, and we’re talking theoretical Jackson, in good health, at his full powers. Substitute Jackson for Fillmore, Pierce or Buchanan, and keep your fingers crossed.

    • I took Trump’s comment to mean that if Jackson had been elected in 1860, he might’ve been able to work a deal. Personally I think that by the time the election was held, it was too late. The Southern Democrats worked diligently — culminating perhaps in the Charleston convention — to set things up so that secession was virtually assured after the election.

      On the other hand, if Jackson had been president in 1860 (instead of — was it Buchanan? I can never remember what order Pierce and Buchanan were in, they were such ……mmmm,,,,,,,,,,losers), Jackson as president from 1857-61 might have had a chance to avert a war. In his actual presidency he was staunchly opposed to the idea of secession.

      • It obviously didn’t mean THAT. I am tiring of the game of interpreting anything the President says to be the stupidest thing imaginable.

        Of course, a Democrat who was a slaveholder from Tennessee wouldn’t have faced the immediate secession of the Confederacy if he were the winner of the 1860 election. But that’s not even plausible alternate history.

        • OK, I’ll grant you that and I retract that part of my comment. But I really wasn’t trying to interpret Trump’s statement as stupid. My initial thought on hearing it was something like, Hmm, that’s an interesting point and something I hadn’t ever thought about. I doubt it would’ve worked, given how bad things were by November, 1860, but it is certainly food for thought. I do think it shows some insight into Jackson’s character and his actions in the earlier Nullification crisis.

  9. Sue Dunim

    http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/news/a54842/trump-civil-war-river-of-blood/

    ” Write your story the way you want to write it,” Mr. Trump said finally, when pressed unsuccessfully for anything that could corroborate his claim. “You don’t have to talk to anybody. It doesn’t make any difference. But many people were shot. It makes sense.”

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