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Wasserman writes: "Donald Trump's latest insane excursion into US history has been to claim that his great hero, Andrew Jackson, might have prevented the Civil War. Jackson, of course, would never have given up slavery, which was the cause of the war and the core of his fortune."

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 late March. (photo: Andrew Harnik/AP)
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 late March. (photo: Andrew Harnik/AP)


How Trump's Genocidal Hero Andrew Jackson Might Have "Avoided the Civil War"

By Harvey Wasserman, Reader Supported News

05 May 17

 

onald Trump’s latest insane excursion into US history has been to claim that his great hero, Andrew Jackson, might have prevented the Civil War.

Given his racist, genocidal nature, our seventh president could only have done that by giving up slavery in the South, spreading it into the North or giving the Southwest back to Mexico.

Jackson, of course, would never have given up slavery, which was the cause of the war and the core of his fortune.

As a young man, like a cowboy driving cattle, Jackson personally drove slaves to market. He eventually owned more than a hundred of them, and defended America’s “peculiar institution” at every opportunity.

In addition to their authoritarian temperaments, Jackson and Trump share “accomplishments” such as trashing the Constitution, personally profiting from the presidency, and inciting imperial conquest. Jackson did stand for the Union against South Carolina’s threatened secession, but that was about tariffs, not slavery.

Trump rightly says Jackson was “tough.” In 1806, in one of his fourteen duels, Jackson took a bullet an inch from his heart. He then killed his opponent in a manner considered most unchivalrous, and became a social outcast for many years. The bullet stayed in his chest until his own death four decades later.

Jackson was also a pioneer homophobe. As Sen. James Buchanan of Pennsylvania openly lived with his likely lover, Sen. Rufus King of South Carolina, Jackson loudly referred to him as “Aunt Nancy.” (After King died, Buchanan became our only “bachelor president.”)

But mainstream historians have made a hero of “Old Hickory.” Born to dirt poor Irish immigrants who died early, Jackson’s hardscrabble upbringing was the opposite of Trump’s.

Trump inherited millions from his father, who was a Klan sympathizer (or member), a landlord so cruel that the legendary leftie folksinger Woody Guthrie wrote a song denouncing him.

Andrew Jackson pre-dated the Klan, but would’ve killed for an estate like the one Trump inherited. And he did.

As an orphan, Jackson began his military career at age 13. Rising through the ranks as an Indian killer, he conquered the Chickasaw by recruiting their ancient rivals, the Cherokee. Jackson then turned on the Cherokee as if they had been the enemy. His racism was open, lethal, and proud.

With Trump-style “Common Man” rhetoric, Jackson promised to destroy the National Bank. He then made insider deals with the smaller banks that replaced it, enriching his backers and himself. These and other scams helped buy him his 1000-acre slave plantation in Tennessee.

When he conquered native land for the US, Jackson and his cronies somehow wound up with the best parcels. His 1830 Indian Removal Act ordered all eastern tribes to move west of the Mississippi.

The Appalachian Cherokee had an advanced tribal government, an elected leader (John Ross), a capitol, a written constitution, and much more. Most lived in private homes and ran successful farms. Some (like Ross) owned plantations and slaves. There were seven Cherokee lumber mills.

The Cherokee petitioned for statehood. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall ruled that the Constitution allowed no new state to be created from existing ones (Abraham Lincoln dodged that technicality in 1863 to form West Virginia).

But Marshall also ruled that the Cherokee had sovereignty (a clause later used to site casinos) and a Constitutional right to stay on their ancestral lands.

Jackson replied, Trump-style, that he would ignore the Court. Under Jackson’s successor, Martin Van Buren, federal troops forced some 14,000 Cherokee out of their homes at gunpoint. Through the summer of 1838 they were held in a concentration camp. Then, along the infamous “Trail of Tears,” they were marched hundreds of miles to Oklahoma. About 3,000 died along the way.

Jackson promised the Cherokee and other tribes the right to live in that Oklahoma territory “as long as the grass grows and the rivers flow.” Fifty years later their “excess land” was given to white “Sooners” who raced in on horseback and covered wagons to claim homesteads.

As for the Civil War, its root cause was conflict over Mexican land. Mexico abolished slavery in its 1821 revolution against Spain. But American settlers (many from Tennessee) re-established it in 1836, when (after the Alamo) they made Texas an independent republic.

Jackson died in 1845. The next year his protégé, James K. Polk, provoked a war and took from Mexico what became New Mexico, Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada and more. US troops marched all the way into Mexico City, where young soldiers like Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant fought side-by-side. Americans like Abraham Lincoln and Henry Thoreau denounced the conquest as a “poison pill.”

The Civil War broke out when slave owners demanded the right to spread slavery into the West. California’s 1850 statehood gave free states a majority in Congress. War erupted in Kansas, where John Brown and other abolitionists battled slave owners for control.

The only way Jackson’s “art of the deal” might have avoided the Civil War was by persuading northerners to embrace slavery, or southerners to give it up. But both regions were committed to expansion, and neither wanted the other’s economic system. When Lincoln said the nation could not exist “half slave and half free,” he was tragically correct.

Of course, war might have been avoided if Jackson’s progeny had given that land back to Mexico, or restored the Carolinas to the Cherokee, or persuaded the southerners that slavery was never going to work in the West anyway. Cotton does not grow in Kansas or the Southwest, and slavery made no economic sense in the desert, corn or wheat fields.

Without the Jacksonian conquest of Mexico, the “immigrants” Trump now attacks would merely be living on their own land. The wall Trump wants to build tracks a border that did not exist before Polk overran what was once both our southern and our western neighbor.

Sorting through his often insane pronouncements about US history, Trump has seemed surprised to discover that Abraham Lincoln was actually his fellow Republican, while Jackson was a Democrat. Each was the first president from his respective party. Both were “men of the people.” But their views on slavery were, literally, at war with each other.

Trump might also note that when he retired from the presidency in 1837, Jackson found a trusted relative had squandered his wealth. Much of what he’d gouged out of slaughtering Indians and whipping slaves was gone.

Since Trump has joined Jackson in using the presidency to enrich himself, he might want to oversee his sons more carefully.

He might also try doing a better job with the economy. As Trump’s hero left office in 1837, his immediate “legacy” featured a major stock market panic followed by four years of depression.

No doubt the Great Historian would loudly blame that on the Democrats … until he realized his hero actually was one.



Harvey Wasserman’s History of the US is at www.solartopia.org, along with Solartopia! Our Green-Powered Earth.

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+4 # ericlipps 2017-05-05 18:28
Regarding new states, the Constitution says, "New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new States shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or Parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress."
Article IV, Section 3, Clause 1

Since Virginia claimed not to be a state of the United States, I'm not sure that applies, especially since the citizens of what became West Virginia, who tilted heavily against slavery, set up a separate government after Virginia's secession and voted to secede from that state.
 
 
+4 # futhark 2017-05-05 22:37
The federal government never recognized Virginia's secession from the Union, so it continued to be a state and subject to the regulations for states under the Constitution. However, you raise a good point here. If Virginia's secession was never recognized, why was its readmission to the Union in 1870 made contingent upon its ratification of the 14th and 15th Amendments?
 
 
+2 # solartopia.org 2017-05-06 11:55
yes, good point & well presented.

but lincoln never acknowledged that the confederacy had left the union legally, so it was a bit of a dodge to admit west virginia.

that's why we have lawyers
 
 
+3 # oakes721 2017-05-05 18:59
.
~ History Lessens when Trump tells it ~
.
"Hi-story" tells the Story of those on High command, the upper class heroes, dashingly brave and brilliant men ~ while dashing their 'underlings' to the ground, out of sight, whose plight anonymously is gone unmentioned by most historians.
.
Reparations for slavery? Why not send these white house boys over the ocean to lend a little hand to the folks whose family members were kidnapped back in Jackson's reign. Such might reverse their thoughts about the economic advantages of bondage and servitude.
.
 
 
+15 # tanis 2017-05-05 20:23
thank you Harvey, nothing like a good history lesson. Too bad people are listening to Trump tell the stories so incorrectly. Perhaps if we had correct history taught in schools, the public would never have ushered in this president.
 
 
+16 # Thomas Martin 2017-05-05 20:25
It’s amazing to me how much Andrew Jackson’s personality and politics still overshadow the South, and how tenuously Lincoln’s ideals survive in the North … we’re a “mixing bowl”, but it isn’t coming out right if some of us, anywhere, are still privileged, while others are oppressed.
 
 
+8 # RICHARDKANEpa 2017-05-05 20:52
Donald's quaking does make sense. There would be no civil war if slave supporters kept getting elected President.

The con artist quack doesn't not believe in science. Some admire Indias economic spurt despite choking on fowl air and selling kidneys. I am surprised that the two hot heads Kim in North Korea and the Dear Leader of America don't get along.
 
 
-1 # futhark 2017-05-05 22:50
Historical detail corrections: President Jackson would have been unlikely to have given the Southwest back to Mexico, since the first annexation of former Mexican territory into the United States occurred with the admission of the state of Texas 1845 December 29. Jackson's term of office expired on 1837 March 4 and he died 1845 June 8, more than half a year before the annexation. Trump's grasp of historical facts may be weak, but let it not be said that his critics demonstrate even lower chronological skills.
 
 
+2 # futhark 2017-05-07 11:11
For the thumbs downers - Mr. Trump alleges that Andrew Jackson was "really angry" about the Civil War, even though he had been in his grave for 16 years when it began, but you must think it OK for Harvey Wasserman to allege that Jackson could possibly have prevented the Civil War "by giving the Southwest back to Mexico", even though the United States had not annexed an acre of Mexican territory until Jackson had been out of office for 8 years and dead for over 6 months. While I agree that Andrew Jackson was not an admirable character, given his ownership of slaves, defense of that institution, and his active program of dispossession of Native Americans, we must not follow Mr. Trump's example of twisting chronology to support our own historical fantasies.
 
 
+3 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2017-05-06 01:40
It is really appalling how ignorant of history US presidents -- or members of congress -- really are. Trump may be the worst yet, but I'd say there is not much difference in his ignorance and that of Reagan or W. Bush.

To become president, you have to live in a fantasy world of your own making. You have to be a psychopath -- someone divorced from reality in dangerous and destructive ways. Here is John Hirthler on Counterpunch --

In 2014, then Secretary of State John Kerry described Russian President Vladimir Putin thusly to the Wall Street Journal, “You almost feel that he’s creating his own reality, and his own sort of world, divorced from a lot of what’s real on the ground for all those people, including people in his own country.” He also said of Russia after it had reintegrated Crimea into the Russian Federation, “You just don’t, in the twenty-first century, behave in nineteenth-cent ury fashion by invading another country on a completely trumped-up pretext.” Kerry uttered neither of these comments with the slightest trace of irony or self-awareness.

Of course, Kerry is describing himself and Obama. What he said did not apply to Putin who actually is very smart about history.

America seems almost unique in electing the worst possible people to its presidency. The blame goes to the way the mass media handles the elections. They dumb them down and make entertainment out of them. Trump was the quirkiest clown, so he won. That's it.
 
 
+3 # Charles3000 2017-05-06 06:30
Andrew Jackson's most significant accomplishment was defeating Biddle's quest to maintain the charter of the Second US Bank, thereby reducing the national debt to zero and defeating the politically powerful Henry Clay of Virginia. jackson was involved in many issues but his "bank war" is undoubtedly the most famous and most interesting.
 
 
+15 # elizabethblock 2017-05-06 07:51
“as long as the grass grows and the rivers flow,” or until a white man wants the land, whichever comes first. Same today, in the US, Canada, Palestine, and everywhere else where colonists have come to replace the indigenous people.

When are we gonna get genocidaire Andrew Jackson the hell off the $20 bill?
 
 
+3 # Salburger 2017-05-06 09:09
"The only way Jackson’s “art of the deal” might have avoided the Civil War was by persuading northerners to embrace slavery, or southerners to give it up." is simply wrong. The southern slave states provoked a war over the union by seceding. Lincoln promised that slavery would not be interfered with where it existed already - so all that would have been necessary would have been to convince southerners to give up the extension of slavery and simply continue to enjoy its profits where they had it. It was southern over-reaching that made for a war and ended up ending slavery. Without secession slavery would have continued in the southern states for at least decades if not indefinitely as there was no overwhelming support in the northern states for abolition, and certainly not for a war to free the slaves---until that became necessary to preserve the union, which they did support overwhelmingly.
 
 
+5 # reiverpacific 2017-05-06 10:03
Quoting elizabethblock:
“as long as the grass grows and the rivers flow,” or until a white man wants the land, whichever comes first. Same today, in the US, Canada, Palestine, and everywhere else where colonists have come to replace the indigenous people.

When are we gonna get genocidaire Andrew Jackson the hell off the $20 bill?


Right; and replaced by sitting Bull (Tatanka Iyoté), with Crazy Horse (Tashunca-witco ) on the $10.00.
 
 
0 # Wise woman 2017-05-08 17:19
Quoting reiverpacific:
Quoting elizabethblock:
“as long as the grass grows and the rivers flow,” or until a white man wants the land, whichever comes first. Same today, in the US, Canada, Palestine, and everywhere else where colonists have come to replace the indigenous people.

When are we gonna get genocidaire Andrew Jackson the hell off the $20 bill?


Right; and replaced by sitting Bull (Tatanka Iyoté), with Crazy Horse (Tashunca-witco) on the $10.00.


How about Sacagawea? Aren't we LONG OVERDUE to see a brave woman's face on our $20? Then we can follow up with Rosa Parks or Elizabeth Cady Stanton. The list is endless.
We can trash all our male dominated money and liven it up with some new (female) faces. The old ones have gotten boring. Could be part of America`s new image. We sure need one!
 
 
+2 # Peakspecies 2017-05-06 11:10
My understanding is that #45 doesn't know much about that history. His recent views have been fed to him by Stephen Brannon.
 
 
+2 # two crows 2017-05-06 15:53
From what I understand, Tweety adopted Andrew Jackson and lauded him after someone told him there was a resemblance between them.

Who here wants to bet that the person wasn't being complimentary? Yeah, me too.
 
 
+1 # Doc Mary 2017-05-06 21:52
The new white supremacy movement adulates Jackson and ignores Lincoln, so most likely yes, Bannon told Trump he was like Jackson and overrated Jackson's positive side. [He didn't get the bank issue right, either.]

The removal of the Cherokee was Presidential overreach that would delight Trump - Georgia's state constitution actually included a clause that FORBADE the state to take away Cherokee lands. Surprised you left out Jackson's response to the Supreme Court's having ruled against him - he supposedly said, "Let them try to enforce their ruling." Trump must love that (if he knows about it).

And the cruelty of the Trail of Tears fits well with the types of policies this government wants to impose on the sick, the elderly, and the poor. How did we ever end up here?

I think Penn has some explaining to do about Trump's degree ...
 

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