The Atlantic

What Trump Gets Right—and Progressives Get Wrong—About Andrew Jackson

In the 19th century, Jackson broadened the electorate, but the self-righteousness of some Democrats impedes their efforts to do the same.
Source: Alex Brandon / AP

In an interview excerpt that ricocheted around the internet Monday morning, Trump implied that the Civil War didn’t have to happen, and had Andrew Jackson been the president, it might not have happened because he would have talked some sense into the parties. Or something.

In this same interview, the president also sang the praises of the people of Tennessee who, he assured us, love Andrew Jackson. Let me fact-check this segment: We Tennesseans are indeed “amazing,” though I’m not sure we all love Andrew Jackson. Going off demographics alone, the small number of Native Americans who remain in Tennessee despite the Trail of Tears certainly do not love Andrew Jackson. The roughly 17 percent of Tennesseans who are African Americans likely do not as well. And my fellow Chattanoogan, Jon Meacham, wrote a Pulitzer-winning political biography of the man that was fair but certainly critical.

And then there are contemporary progressives, in Tennessee and elsewhere. Many who swooned over a young senator’s speech at Iowa’s 2007 Jefferson-Jackson dinner are

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Atlantic

The Atlantic5 min readScience
The Fraught Effort To Return To The Moon
NASA wants to put people back on the lunar surface in 2024, but it doesn’t have the budget.
The Atlantic8 min readPolitics
The Nationalists Take Washington
Prominent figures from Tucker Carlson to John Bolton gathered at the Ritz-Carlton to declare war on the conservative establishment and lay the groundwork for a new intellectual movement on the right.
The Atlantic5 min readPolitics
The Financial Calamity That Is the Teaching Profession
Teachers are suing the government over debt relief that never came—but their financial problems go much deeper than student loans.