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Fact-checking Trump on the American Civil War

16 May 2017

We're launching a newsletter to explore just that.

'But why was there the Civil War?' Trump told Zito. Trump said in an interview with The Washington Examiner that also aired on Sirius XM radio.

TRUMP: [Jackson] was a swashbuckler. 'You know he visited her grave every day'.

ZITO: That's right. You were in Tennessee.

"His wife died", Trump added, referring to the 1828 death of Rachel Jackson, whose demise historian have, in fact, credited in part to the stress of the election. The people of Tennessee are unbelievable people.

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'They said my campaign is most like, my campaign and win was most like Andrew Jackson with his campaign and I said "When was Andrew Jackson?"

NPR Morning Edition Host Steve Inskeep wrote a book about Andrew Jackson in 2015, called Jacksonland, so I reached out to him via email today for some context.

This is the same guy, mind you, who did not have any idea that Abraham Lincoln was a Republican or that Andrew Jackson died 16 years before the Civil War or that anybody EVER had thought about the causes of the Civil War. He was a very tough person, but he had a big heart. He said, "there's no reason for this.'" However, Trump's tweet retroactively confirms that he meant to say that he believed Jackson "saw [the war] coming" and that he might've prevented it.

Trump said Jackson recognized "true leadership" meant "putting America first", which was also one of Trump's campaign slogans. People don't ask that question, ' the president said. People don't ask that question, but why was there a Civil War? 'Why could that one not been worked out?' Does that sound familiar?

Trump continued to embrace that comparison during his interview with SiriuxXMPolitics.

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"I want to see peace with Israel and the Palestinians", Trump said.

"It's very hard, once you're there, to change". The Civil War broke out in 1861.

According to historian Jon Meacham in the New York Times, Donald Trump's comments on the Civil War and Andrew Jackson's potential role in preventing it would necessarily center around the expansion of slavery.

His remarks about Jackson and the civil war appeared to arise from a discussion of a painting of the seventh president that Trump moved into the Oval Office after his inauguration. Is Trump saying he would have been okay with a more partial or gradual phasing out of slavery?

Mr Jackson, who was president from 1829-37, was a slave-owner himself. It also suggests that Trump's understanding of complex events in history is a bit underdeveloped. If Middle East peace isn't attained by the time he leaves office, it will apparently be because he and Jared Kushner simply weren't Andrew Jackson.

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