Historians react to Trump’s Civil War comments: ‘That’s entirely wrong in every respect’
● Why There Was a Civil War (The Atlantic)
Historians yesterday valiantly tried, and mostly failed, to understand and interpret President Trump’s remarks about President Andrew Jackson. Among other comments, Trump seemed to assert that Jackson, who died in 1845, could have prevented the Civil War, and that the causes of the bloodiest conflict in the nation’s history have not been addressed or discussed.
“I mean, had Andrew Jackson been a little later, you wouldn’t have had the Civil War,” said Trump in an interview with the Washington Examiner’s Salena Zito. “He was a very tough person, but he had a big heart, and 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?”
The comments, published Monday morning and broadcast on SiriusXM Radio, led to confusion over Trump’s understanding of Jackson’s beliefs and general American history.
“First of all, historians have actually talked about the reasons for the Civil War quite a bit,” said Kevin Kruse, a professor of history at Princeton, in an email to Yahoo News. “Second, there’s an overwhelming consensus among historians that the Civil War came about because of slavery. Simply put, the war came because the southern states seceded, and they seceded — as they quite clearly said themselves at the time, over and over again — because of slavery. Mississippi’s secession declaration, to take just one, is quite direct here: ‘Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery — the greatest material interest of the world.’”