Trump on the Civil War: ‘Why could that one not have been worked out?’

President Trump says he doesn’t understand why the Civil War could not have been prevented.

“People don’t realize, you know, the Civil War, if you think about it, why?” Trump said during an interview with the Washington Examiner set to air on Sirius XM Radio Monday afternoon. “People don’t ask that question, but why was there a Civil War? Why could that one not have been worked out?”

Trump expressed praise for President Andrew Jackson, a slaveholding plantation owner, as a “swashbuckler.” Trump suggested that Jackson could have brokered peace between the North and South — sides that held irreconcilable views on slavery.

“I mean, had Andrew Jackson been a little later you wouldn’t have had the Civil War,” Trump said. “He was a very tough person, but he had a big heart. He was really angry that he saw what was happening with regard to the Civil War. He said, ‘There’s no reason for this.'”

Jackson died in 1845, 16 years before the Civil War began — though it is possible Trump was referring to the decades-long buildup of tensions over slavery before the war started, and not asserting that Jackson was alive during the Civil War itself.

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Trump has long been interested in Jackson, and has repeatedly compared the controversial president to himself. In March, Trump visited the Hermitage, Jackson’s Tennessee home, to commemorate what would have been the seventh president’s 250th birthday.

“It was during the revolution that Jackson first confronted and defied an arrogant elite,” Trump said at a rally in Nashville. “Does that sound familiar to you? Oh, I know the feeling, Andrew.”

Trump told Sirius he also visited the grave of Jackson’s wife while he was there.

Trump speaks at a rally in Nashville in March. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)
Trump speaks at a rally in Nashville in March. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

“I visited her grave actually because I was in Tennessee,” he said. “And it was amazing. The people of Tennessee are amazing people. They love Andrew Jackson. They love Andrew Jackson in Tennessee.”

It’s not the first time Trump appeared to exhibit a loose grasp of history as president.

In February at an “African-American History Month listening session” at the White House, Trump cited Frederick Douglass as “an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more, I notice.”

Douglass, a 19th-century African-American abolitionist, writer and orator, died in 1895.

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