The media and critics most recent evidence to demonstrate Trump's ignorance of facts and history are regarding his comments that if Andrew Jackson had come along a little later, he would have prevented the Civil War. Trump gives the media plenty of fodder but they might want to look deeper into American history before laughing at Trump's views on our seventh president.
Trump's comments are reasonable in the context of history. Those having a laugh at Trump's expense and because Ole' Hickory died a decade and a half before the opening shots of the Civil War overlook a momentous historical event in 1832 when South Carolina held a Nullification Convention.
The events of the Nullification Crisis foreshadowed the states' succession in the Civil War, to come 30 years later.
Under the previous, John Quincy Adams administration, new tariffs and duties were passed. The tariffs of 1828 became known to detractors as the "Tariff of Abominations." The South was most stridently against the tariffs.
With the election of Andrew Jackson, a Southerner states' rights advocate and slaveholder, opponents of the tariffs expected relief. Nonetheless, the Jackson administration failed to address the tariffs.
The most radical opponents were in South Carolina, including the greatest foe of the Tariff's, Jackson's Vice President, John C. Calhoun of South Carolina. At the end of 1832, Calhoun resigned the office of the Vice Presidency and resumed his place in the Senate where he believed he could fight for effectively for change.
Calhoun argued that a state could veto any federal law that was not specifically enumerated in the Constitution and usurped the powers of the states. In November of 1832 the state of South Carolina held a Nullification Convention. The state threatened to secede from the union if the government attempted to collect those duties. It became the biggest constitutional crisis before the Civil War.
Although Jackson may have sympathized with South Carolinians and states' rights views in general, above all he valued keeping his oath to, "Faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my abilities preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States."
Two weeks after South Carolina's Nullification Convention, on Dec. 10, 1832, Jackson issued a document authored by Edward Livingston — a "Proclamation to the People of South Carolina." He denounced nullification as a threat to the Union. Jackson continued, "This Union is perpetual, and no state had the right to secede." Further, "disunion by armed force was treason."
At that year's traditional Democratic Party celebration, remembering Thomas Jefferson's birthday, Jackson's toast was, "Our Federal Union: It must be preserved."
Jackson told a South Carolina Congressman, "If one drop of blood be shed there in defiance of the laws of the United States, I will hang the first man of them I can get my hands on to the first tree I can find." John C. Calhoun, among others, feared for their lives with good reason.
Congress passed, and President Jackson signed the Force Act that authorized the use of military force against any state that resisted the Tariffs Act. Jackson ordered General Winfield Scott to prepare for Military operations with over 8,000 armed troops to oppose the state militia.
Like Lincoln a generation later, Jackson cautioned that the federal troops must under no circumstances be the aggressors.
According to Jon Meacham's 2009 Jackson biography, "American Lion," on May 1, 1833, Jackson wrote, "The tariff is only a pretext. Disunion and southern confederacy the real object. The next pretext will be the negro or slavery question."
The great Henry Clay brokered a compromise that returned tariffs to previous levels by 1842. The crisis was averted, and everybody could claim that they got what they wanted.
Jackson's handling of the Nullification Crisis was one of the finest hours of his presidency. He saw where the country was heading. Trump is right, and one cannot help but wonder what would have happened if a strong, bold leader like Jackson had been in the Executive Mansion between 1856 and 1860 — instead of James Buchanan. While Trump is projecting, it is not wild nor reckless speculation.
Andy Bloom is a former communications director for Rep. Michael R. Turner, R-Ohio, and as operations manager oversaw content for Talk Radio 1210 WPHT, and Sports Radio 94 WIP, Philadelphia for eight years. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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