Maybe Andrew Jackson Really Would Have Prevented Civil War

To the Editors:

We can never know if Jackson had been president instead of Buchanan whether he could have stopped the slide to secession and war (“Would Andrew Jackson Have Prevented the Civil War? Trump Says Yes. A Jackson Scholar Says No,The Chronicle, May 2). Buchanan did nothing. If Jackson had been president, his reputation as a Unionist and a violent and passionate man might have caused Southerners to back down. They would have had no doubts about peacefully leaving the Union. Jackson showed this in 1832 with South Carolina’s Ordinance of Nullification, threatening armed force, treason trials, and hangings.

Would it have made a difference if Jackson had been in office? Probably not. But, it is not merely fanciful to think so. After all, in the 1880′s Brazil freed its huge slave population without secession or war.

J. Jeffrey Weisenfeld
New York

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