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Historians React to President Trump’s Controversial Comments About the Civil War

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Do the same rules of forecasting apply with Donald Trump as President? Superforecasters say yes. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Donald Trump made a historic blunder (of the literal variety) with his recent comments about the Civil War. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Donald Trump’s comments about President Andrew Jackson and the Civil War elicited a strong pushback from historians on Monday.

In an interview from Sunday—that aired on SiriusXM a day later—Trump had suggested Jackson could have prevented the country’s worst-ever crisis and that no one has studied what caused the war.

“I mean, had Andrew Jackson been a little later, you wouldn’t have had the Civil War,” Trump said in the interview. “He was really angry that he saw what was happening with regard to the Civil War. He said, ‘There’s no reason for this.’ 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?”

Portrait of Andrew Jackson in general's uniform (Waxhaw, 1767-Nashville, 1845), American politician, seventh President of the United States of America. Painting by Wesley.
Portrait of Andrew Jackson in general’s uniform (Waxhaw, 1767-Nashville, 1845), American politician, seventh President of the United States of America. Painting by Wesley.

In fact, Jackson died nearly 16 years before the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861. And perhaps no question has been studied more than the cause of the Civil War—it’s even a question on the U.S. citizenship exam—which historians almost universally agree was the result of the North-South divide over legalized slavery.

“Andrew Jackson himself was a slaveholder and the Jacksonians were slaveholders and they despised the abolitionists,” Eric Rauchway, a professor of history at the University of California-Davis, told Yahoo News. So to believe that Jackson or his political heirs would have been able to prevent the Civil War, Rauchway noted, “That’s entirely wrong in every respect.”

To read more about historians’ reactions to Trump’s comments, read the full story at Yahoo News.