Letter To The Editor: Response To Goldman On US History

By RICK NEBEL
Los Alamos

This is an answer to Terry Goldman’s question on American History (link).

I can think of one famous American President who would likely behave much the same way as Donald Trump. That’s Andrew Jackson who was president from 1829 to 1837.

Andrew Jackson was a hard man. He was the frontier general hero of the Battle of New Orleans in the War of 1812. Also, as a young man, he fought somewhere between 5 and 100 duels.

One famous duel he fought was with a fellow planter, Charles Dickinson. Dickinson labeled Jackson a coward and called his wife a bigamist. Dickinson was a crack shot and entertained his entourage on the way to the duel by breaking pieces of string hanging from a tree with his pistol. Jackson decided that the only way he could beat Dickinson was to let him fire first and hope he missed.

Jackson was a tall thin man and he wore baggy clothes so that Dickinson wouldn’t have a clear target. Dickinson fired first, and when the smoke cleared Jackson was still standing. He slowly raised his pistol, took aim, and killed Dickinson. It turned out that Dickinson had hit Jackson within an inch of his heart.

When Jackson ran for President in 1828, his vice-president was John C. Calhoun (the father of nullification/secession). At a White house dinner in celebration of Thomas Jefferson’s birthday, Calhoun and his associates tried to get Jackson to make a statement for State’s Rights. Jackson’s response was that he considered secession to be treason and that he would personally hang anyone who tried it in front of the Capitol building. Secession was delayed for another 30 years.

Jackson was also the first president that had an assassination attempt on his life.  Late in Jackson’s presidency, an insane man pulled two pistols on Jackson on the Capitol steps. Both pistols misfired, and Jackson (even though he was an old man) nearly beat the man to death with his hickory cane.

Jackson was America’s first populist president and he is Donald Trump’s favorite president. Roy Cohn (chief counsel in the McCarthy hearings) was Trump’s first and favorite attorney. Trump’s admiration for Jackson and Cohn give a lot of insight into who Donald Trump is and why he behaves the way he does.

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