Could Andrew Jackson have stopped the Civil War?

cw1865

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The question has a couple of potential wrinkles to it. Is Jackson the incoming President instead of Lincoln? If that is the case Jackson's sentiments would be unlikely to trigger secession to begin with. If we veil Jackson with abolitionist sentiments and give him the same back story, would that make a difference?

Maybe, of course, difficult to tell.

Putting a Jacksonian personality into Buchanan could make a difference of course I mean, its difficult not to say Jackson's response to the Nullification Crisis might be indicative of how he would respond to SC in December of 1860.

Buchanan essentially passed the buck and when asking the AG, the AG said secession illegal but Buchanan couldn't do anything about it.

Perhaps this let the problem fester a bit longer than Jackson would have permitted?

"To deter the nullifiers from attacking the Unionists in their midst, Jackson warned a South Carolina congressman that ‘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.’ When Robert Hayne ventured, ‘I don’t believe he would really hang anybody, do you?’ Thomas Hart Benton replied, ‘Few people have believed he would hang Arbuthnot and shoot Ambrister . . . I tell you, Hayne, when Jackson begins to talk about hanging, they can begin to look out for ropes!’"
 

diane

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Indirect cause. Annexation of Texas more direct.

Worcester vs Georgia - It's been well argued that Jackson's refusal to enforce the Supreme Court decision helped re-enforce the Southern belief in states' rights trumping (pardon!) federal law. Nullification pops its head up again and a future Confederate general is named States Rights Gist!
 

WJC

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Question: Could Andrew Jackson have stopped the Civil War?​

Ans: I don't think so. I have often cited these comments concerning secession which were made by Jackson on 10/10/1832 during the Nullification crisis:

The States severally have not retained their entire sovereignty. It has been shown that in becoming parts of a nation, not members of a league, they surrendered many of their essential parts of sovereignty. The right to make treaties, declare war, levy taxes, exercise exclusive judicial and legislative powers, were all functions of sovereign power. The States, then, for all these important purposes, were no longer sovereign. The allegiance of their citizens was transferred in the first instance to the government of the United States; they became American citizens, and owed obedience to the Constitution of the United States, and to laws made in conformity with the powers vested in Congress. This last position has not been, and cannot be, denied… it has been shown that in this sense the States are not sovereign, and that even if they were, and the national Constitution had been formed by compact, there would be no right in any one State to exonerate itself from the obligation.

So obvious are the reasons which forbid this secession, that it is necessary only to allude to them. The Union was formed for the benefit of all. It was produced by mutual sacrifice of interest and opinions. Can those sacrifices be recalled? Can the States, who magnanimously surrendered their title to the territories of the West, recall the grant? Will the inhabitants of the inland States agree to pay the duties that may be imposed without their assent by those on the Atlantic or the Gulf, for their own benefit? Shall there be a free port in one State, and enormous duties in another? No one believes that any right exists in a single State to involve all the others in these and countless other evils, contrary to engagements solemnly made. Everyone must see that the other States, in self-defense, must oppose it at all hazards.

Your pride was aroused by the assertions that a submission to these laws was a state of vassalage, and that resistance to them was equal, in patriotic merit, to the opposition our fathers offered to the oppressive laws of Great Britain. You were told that this opposition might be peaceably-might be constitutionally made-that you might enjoy all the advantages of the Union and bear none of its burdens. Eloquent appeals to your passions, to your State pride, to your native courage, to your sense of real injury, were used to prepare you for the period when the mask which concealed the hideous features of DISUNION should be taken off.

But the dictates of a high duty oblige me solemnly to announce that you cannot succeed. The laws of the United States must be executed. I have no discretionary power on the subject-my duty is emphatically pronounced in the Constitution. Those who told you that you might peaceably prevent their execution, deceived you-they could not have been deceived themselves. They know that a forcible opposition could alone prevent the execution of the laws, and they know that such opposition must be repelled.

Their object is disunion, but be not deceived by names; disunion, by armed force, is TREASON. Are you really ready to incur its guilt? (All bolding by ForeverFree)
As far as Jackson was concerned, armed disunion - which describes Confederate rebellion - was not something that he was going to tolerate.

Although maybe Jackson does prevent war, because Southerners fear Jackson will usher in a bloody civil war, and they will get no mercy from Jackson if they lose.

- Alan

Edited by moderator jgg
Perhaps I am wrong, but is this posting in response to what appears to be a recent misstatement which conflated Andrew Jackson with Thomas Jonathan Jackson?
 

jgoodguy

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Worcester vs Georgia - It's been well argued that Jackson's refusal to enforce the Supreme Court decision helped re-enforce the Southern belief in states' rights trumping (pardon!) federal law. Nullification pops its head up again and a future Confederate general is named States Rights Gist!
If I remember correctly there were other incidents too. A cynic might note that the SC nullifiers were political opponents of Jackson and instead of a impulse of nationalism his handling of the nullification crisis was political revenge.
 

diane

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If I remember correctly there were other incidents too. A cynic might note that the SC nullifiers were political opponents of Jackson and instead of a impulse of nationalism his handling of the nullification crisis was political revenge.

I always suspected that was more the motive - telling the Supremes to take a hike was doing exactly what he was against. (Although I think he really meant it when he said his worst mistake as president was not hanging Calhoun.)
 

cash

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He would have prevented Confederate secession because he was a Democrat, a Southern white, and a slaveowner. If he was elected president in 1860 (assuming he was still in our mortal plain) it would meant that the proslavery folks had won that round.

What if we put Jackson in place of Buchanan and Lincoln is still elected? How does Jackson respond to South Carolina's secession, and is his response effective?
 

jgoodguy

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I always suspected that was more the motive - telling the Supremes to take a hike was doing exactly what he was against. (Although I think he really meant it when he said his worst mistake as president was not hanging Calhoun.)
May not have all been about nullification.
Petticoat affair

The Petticoat affair (also known as the Eaton affair) was an 1829–1831 U.S. scandal involving members of President Andrew Jackson's Cabinet and their wives. Led by Floride Calhoun, wife of Vice President John C. Calhoun, these women (the "petticoats") socially ostracized John Eaton, the Secretary of War, and his wife Peggy over disapproval of the circumstances surrounding their marriage and what they considered her failure to meet the moral standards of a cabinet wife. The affair shook up the Jackson administration and led to the resignation of all but one cabinet member. It facilitated Martin Van Buren's rise to the presidency and was, in part, responsible for Calhoun's transformation from a national political figure with presidential aspirations into a sectional leader of the slave-holding Southern states.
Jackson was sympathetic to the Eatons, in part, because his late wife Rachel had been the subject of innuendo when questions arose during Jackson's campaign for president as to whether her first marriage had been legally ended before she married Jackson. Jackson believed these attacks were the cause of Rachel's death on December 22, 1828, several weeks after his election to the presidency.[18][19]
Jackson appointed Eaton as his Secretary of War, and Eaton's entry into a high-profile cabinet post helped intensify the opposition of Mrs. Calhoun's group. In addition, Calhoun was becoming the focal point of opposition to Jackson; Calhoun's supporters opposed a second term for Jackson because they wanted to see Calhoun elected president.
 

jgoodguy

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What if we put Jackson in place of Buchanan and Lincoln is still elected? How does Jackson respond to South Carolina's secession, and is his response effective?
The effective is questionable, but in theory 4 years of strong leadership vs vacillating could have deterred the secessionists.
 

JerseyBart

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I posted about this subject earlier, but some heavy-handed moderator squelched it.

Honestly, when the President of the United States brings the Civil War into national discussion, we shouldn't be censoring ourselves for fear of 'politics.'
I know that heavy handed moderator and let me assure you he is a fine understanding sensitive individual.
I know the other heavy-handed moderator who deleted the second thread and he too is a lovely...lovely human being.
 

diane

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Thank you for pointing out something that tends to be forgotten, Diane. Deserves to be remembered.

It does. You have a lot more flexibility once the land is cleared of the tribes, after all...especially when you and your partner have invested heavily in 65,000 acres of ceded Chickasaw lands - just about where Memphis is today... and prime cotton growing land, too...
 

KansasFreestater

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Worcester vs Georgia - It's been well argued that Jackson's refusal to enforce the Supreme Court decision helped re-enforce the Southern belief in states' rights trumping (pardon!) federal law. Nullification pops its head up again and a future Confederate general is named States Rights Gist!
Did not know about that case. Very interesting theory.

Yeah, States Rights Gist, what a name! What do you supposed they called him as a nickname? Talk about warping your poor kid!
 
Last edited:

suzenatale

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Question: Could Andrew Jackson have stopped the Civil War?​

Ans: I don't think so. I have often cited these comments concerning secession which were made by Jackson on 10/10/1832 during the Nullification crisis:

The States severally have not retained their entire sovereignty. It has been shown that in becoming parts of a nation, not members of a league, they surrendered many of their essential parts of sovereignty. The right to make treaties, declare war, levy taxes, exercise exclusive judicial and legislative powers, were all functions of sovereign power. The States, then, for all these important purposes, were no longer sovereign. The allegiance of their citizens was transferred in the first instance to the government of the United States; they became American citizens, and owed obedience to the Constitution of the United States, and to laws made in conformity with the powers vested in Congress. This last position has not been, and cannot be, denied… it has been shown that in this sense the States are not sovereign, and that even if they were, and the national Constitution had been formed by compact, there would be no right in any one State to exonerate itself from the obligation.

So obvious are the reasons which forbid this secession, that it is necessary only to allude to them. The Union was formed for the benefit of all. It was produced by mutual sacrifice of interest and opinions. Can those sacrifices be recalled? Can the States, who magnanimously surrendered their title to the territories of the West, recall the grant? Will the inhabitants of the inland States agree to pay the duties that may be imposed without their assent by those on the Atlantic or the Gulf, for their own benefit? Shall there be a free port in one State, and enormous duties in another? No one believes that any right exists in a single State to involve all the others in these and countless other evils, contrary to engagements solemnly made. Everyone must see that the other States, in self-defense, must oppose it at all hazards.

Your pride was aroused by the assertions that a submission to these laws was a state of vassalage, and that resistance to them was equal, in patriotic merit, to the opposition our fathers offered to the oppressive laws of Great Britain. You were told that this opposition might be peaceably-might be constitutionally made-that you might enjoy all the advantages of the Union and bear none of its burdens. Eloquent appeals to your passions, to your State pride, to your native courage, to your sense of real injury, were used to prepare you for the period when the mask which concealed the hideous features of DISUNION should be taken off.

But the dictates of a high duty oblige me solemnly to announce that you cannot succeed. The laws of the United States must be executed. I have no discretionary power on the subject-my duty is emphatically pronounced in the Constitution. Those who told you that you might peaceably prevent their execution, deceived you-they could not have been deceived themselves. They know that a forcible opposition could alone prevent the execution of the laws, and they know that such opposition must be repelled.

Their object is disunion, but be not deceived by names; disunion, by armed force, is TREASON. Are you really ready to incur its guilt? (All bolding by ForeverFree)
As far as Jackson was concerned, armed disunion - which describes Confederate rebellion - was not something that he was going to tolerate.

Although maybe Jackson does prevent war, because Southerners fear Jackson will usher in a bloody civil war, and they will get no mercy from Jackson if they lose.

- Alan

Edited by moderator jgg
Oh goodie, I was just wondering this on facebook and had no takers.

On one hand I would say Jackson would not have prevented the Civil War because he clearly favored using the army to force states to remain in the union as was seen in the Nullification crisis, however on the other hand since he was not a threat to slavery, he being president longer would have postponed the Civil War, until a president came along who opposed slavery.

Or if we are saying that he is not president, but just still alive? I doubt Jackson would have had any better compromises than say the Crittenden Compromise.
 

shermans_march

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Just some reality check:
If alive, Andrew Jackson would had been 93 in 1860. In an age where Depends were not invented.
Might as well ask whether George Washington would had stopped the Civil War.
Just sayin'

I don't think that is what we are going at in this post. When we say "if he was alive" we mean what would be the result if he had been a leader or president during this era of U.S. history. I don't think it is meant in a literal way, as if he had lived up until the outbreak of the Civil War, being 93 as you said.
 

Joshism

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He would have prevented Confederate secession because he was a Democrat, a Southern white, and a slaveowner. If he was elected president in 1860 (assuming he was still in our mortal plain) it would meant that the proslavery folks had won that round.

Jackson being elected wouldn't be seen as a trigger like Lincoln. However, the South had already been "betrayed" by Zachary Taylor - a white Southern slaveowner, albeit a Whig. A strong hand by Jackson over some dispute in the 1850s or 1860s might have triggered secession and war when the exact same reaction in 1832 prevented it.

What if we put Jackson in place of Buchanan and Lincoln is still elected? How does Jackson respond to South Carolina's secession, and is his response effective?

Jackson seems like he would have gone through the roof the moment the South seized Federal fort, maybe even responded to South Carolina's declaration of secession by declaring them in rebellion. He was no softy like Buchanan. It might have just made the following secessions occur faster and hurt Northern unity and morale (Fort Sumter had a unifying effect on the North).

It should be remembered that the Nullification Crisis included Jackson's stick being partnered with a carrot grown largely by Henry Clay. Also, the rest of the South was not ready to back SC back then.
 

jgoodguy

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Jackson being elected wouldn't be seen as a trigger like Lincoln. However, the South had already been "betrayed" by Zachary Taylor - a white Southern slaveowner, albeit a Whig. A strong hand by Jackson over some dispute in the 1850s or 1860s might have triggered secession and war when the exact same reaction in 1832 prevented it.



Jackson seems like he would have gone through the roof the moment the South seized Federal fort, maybe even responded to South Carolina's declaration of secession by declaring them in rebellion. He was no softy like Buchanan. It might have just made the following secessions occur faster and hurt Northern unity and morale (Fort Sumter had a unifying effect on the North).

It should be remembered that the Nullification Crisis included Jackson's stick being partnered with a carrot grown largely by Henry Clay. Also, the rest of the South was not ready to back SC back then.
Good points!
 
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