Unless you’re living under a rock you’ve probably seen the news today and read that trump put his foot in his mouth again.  Or did he?  Frankly, I don’t believe any of the news sources so I went out and researched this so you don’t have to.

What did Trump actually say?

The best place to start is always to find an accurate quote.  Here’s what Trump actually said in the interview:

‘I mean had Andrew Jackson been a little later you wouldn’t have had the Civil War. 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.” ’

As expected, both sides are trying to spin Trump’s Andrew Jackson flub…

The anti-Trump people mock him and say,

“Jackson wasn’t even alive during the Civil War! What an idiot Trump is! He doesn’t even know as much history as a 5th grader!”

Then you have the pro-Trump crowd:

“These stupid liberals don’t even know that the first secession crisis we faced was under Andrew Jackson’s watch and he successfully negotiated it and saved our nation. Lincoln even cited Jackson’s negotiation later in the Civil war! Trump is teaching history now!”

As usual, the truth is somewhere in the middle:

1. Anyone with even a minor interest in history knows about Jackson and the Nullification Crisis and how it relates to the Civil War.
Trump just returned from visiting the Jackson estate and learning about this so more than likely he was aware of this and referencing it. Did he say it well? Nope. Classic Trump. He learned a little bit and tried to pass himself off as an expert and ended up sounding like a tool.

2. So, Trump is correct in making the connection between the Nullification Crisis and the Civil war.

3. However, Trump,in my opinion, is 100% wrong and completely ignorant if he thinks that Jackson could have stopped the Civil war.

4. The Civil War was brewing for a long time and tensions between state and federal had been in play since the beginning of our nation. Furthermore, the Nullification crisis was not the first secession attempt, there were many in our history, including the fight over the Assumption Bill which led to the Compromise between the North and South and led to the location of our Capital.   Heck some of the New England states almost broke away over the War of 1812. Talk of secession was normal and the relationship between state and federal has always been tenuous.

5. Jackson stormed around threatening and calling secession treason and even threatened to hang the leaders who talked about nullification.  Interestingly enough, when some doubted his sincerity this humorous conversation took place:

When Robert Hayne ventured, ‘I don’t believe he would really hang anybody, do you?’ Thomas Hart Benton replied, ‘Few people have believed he would hang Arbuthnot and shoot Ambrister . . . I tell you, Hayne, when Jackson begins to talk about hanging, they can begin to look out for ropes!’

Jackson was a violent, brash hotheaded badass.  However, there is no possible way he would have negotiated us out of the Civil War. In fact, he very nearly started it.

6. Jackson went to Congress and requested permission for Federal troops to enforce federal law. Fortunately, an armed confrontation was avoided when Congress, led by the efforts of Henry Clay, known as the Great Compromiser, revised the tariff with a compromise bill. This permitted the South Carolinians to back down without “losing face.” When this happened Jackson had a warship in the SC harbor.

7. Years later after the opening shots of the Civil War, some attempted to get Lincoln to compromise with the South. Lincoln rebuked them by saying there was “no Jackson” in what they proposed, referring to Jackson’s stubborn resolve and unwillingness to compromise.