As voiced by the journalist Ishaan Tharoor on Twitter: “Trump’s right-wing populism is built on historical amnesia”.i Tharoor is obviously referring to the Drumpfian presentation of “alternative facts” regarding the American Civil War (1861-65) and the presidency of the genocidal Andrew Jackson (1829-37) . . . and, in response, Professor David Blight told Mother Jones’ Tim Murphy the following: “[s]o he really said this about Jackson and the Civil War? All I can say to you is that from day one I have believed that Donald Trump’s greatest threat to our society and to our democracy is not necessarily his authoritarianism, but his essential ignorance—of history, of policy, of political process, of the Constitution. Saying that if Jackson had been around we might not have had the Civil War is like saying that one strong, aggressive leader can shape, prevent, move history however he wishes. This is simply 5th grade understanding of history or worse. And this comes from the President of the United States! Under normal circumstances if a real estate tycoon weighed in on the nature of American history from such ignorance and twisted understanding we would simply ignore or laugh at him. But since this man lives in the historic White House and wields the constitutional powers of the presidency and the commander in chief we have to pay attention. Trump’s ‘learning’ of American history must have stopped even before the 5th grade. I wish I could say this is funny and not deeply disturbing. My profession should petition the President to take a one or two month leave of absence, VP Pence steps in for that interim, and Trump goes on a retreat in one of his resorts for forced re-education. It could be a new tradition called the presidential education leave. Or perhaps in New Deal tradition, an ‘ignorance relief’ period. This alone might gain the United States again some confidence and respect around the world” . . . and then, Professor Blight added, “[h]ope this helps. God help us”.ii
And the Drumpf being the Drumpf did what he does best, dictate another tweet to his assistant at 3:55 AM – 2 May 2017: “President Andrew Jackson, who died 16 years before the Civil War started, saw it coming and was angry. Would never have let it happen!”.iii While, on the White House website the following appraisal of President Jackson can be found: “Andrew Jackson was the seventh President of the United States from 1829 to 1837, seeking to act as the direct representative of the common man. More nearly than any of his predecessors, Andrew Jackson was elected by popular vote; as President he sought to act as the direct representative of the common man. Born in a backwoods settlement in the Carolinas in 1767, he received sporadic education. But in his late teens he read law for about two years, and he became an outstanding young lawyer in Tennessee. Fiercely jealous of his honor, he engaged in brawls, and in a duel killed a man who cast an unjustified slur on his wife Rachel”.iv In other words, the Drumpf would probably like to present himself as a latter-day Jackson, winning the popular vote and representing the common man, though he would probably never engage in a duel to defend Melania’s honour.
Writing in Indian Country Today, Gale Courey Toensing matter-of-factly declares that a “man nicknamed ‘Indian killer’ and ‘Sharp Knife’ surely deserves the top spot on a list of worst U.S. Presidents. Andrew Jackson ‘was a forceful proponent of Indian removal,’ according to PBS. Others have a less genteel way of describing the seventh president of the United States”.v In the next instance, Courey Toensing fleshes out her argument, detailing the catalogue of misdeeds committed by the seventh U.S. President: “Andrew Jackson was not only a genocidal maniac against the Indigenous Peoples of the southwest, he was also racist against African peoples and a scofflaw who ‘violated nearly every standard of justice,’ according to historian Bertram Wyatt-Brown. As a major general in 1818, Andrew Jackson invaded Spanish Florida chasing fugitive slaves who had escaped with the intent of returning them to their ‘owners,’ and sparked the First Seminole War. During the conflict, Jackson captured two British men, Alexander George Arbuthnot and Robert C. Ambrister, who were living among the Seminoles. The Seminoles had resisted Jackson’s invasion of their land. One of the men had written about his support for the Seminoles’ land and treaty rights in letters found on a boat. Andrew Jackson used the ‘evidence’ to accuse the men of ‘inciting’ the Seminoles to ‘savage warfare’ against the U.S. He convened a ‘special court martial’ tribunal then had the men executed. ‘His actions were a study in flagrant disobedience, gross inequality and premeditated ruthlessness . . . he swept through Florida, crushed the Indians, executed Arbuthnot and Ambrister, and violated nearly every standard of justice,’ Wyatt-Brown wrote”.vi
ii Tim Murrphy, “Historian on Donald Trump’s Civil War Comments: ‘God Help Us’” Mother Jones (01 May 2017). http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/05/historian-donald-trumps-civil-war-comment-god-help-us.
iv “Andrew Jackson” White House. https://www.whitehouse.gov/1600/presidents/andrewjackson.
v Gale Courey Toensing, “Indian-Killer Andrew Jackson Deserves Top Spot on List of Worst US Presidents” Indian Country Today (20 Feb 2017). https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/history/people/indian-killer-andrew-jackson-deserves-top-spot-on-list-of-worst-us-presidents/.
viGale Courey Toensing, “Indian-Killer Andrew Jackson Deserves Top Spot”.