We often hear that Trump is a unique phenomenon in the history of American politics. But are there any similarities between Donald Trump and any other former American president? I had the chance to attend today a fascinating talk by a reputed U.S. historian who finds interesting parallels between the 7th president Andrew Jackson and President-elect Donald Trump. In particular, and according to him, the analogy involves the following points of similarity:
- “The Need for a Tough Guy.” Jackson had such an image. He was a tough general, famous for his dramatic victory against the Creek Indian Nation in 1814 and in the January 1815 battle of New Orleans. Jackson was a war hero, and in his private life, he had a reputation for having fought more than 100 duels in his native Tennessee.
- “Voters Want Change.” The previous six presidents were insiders. Jackson was an outsider not connected to the politics of the capital. Jackson also used lies to advance his political career–something Trump opponents have accused him to have done this 2016 campaign.
- “No Previous Political Experience” of Jackson seen as an advantage over other candidates, as happened to Trump.
- “The Election Was Rigged.” In the 1824 presidential election, Jackson won the most electoral votes but not a majority, sending the election to the House of Representatives. There Henry Clay swung the election by deciding to support John Quincy Adams. (Later Adams appointed Clay Secretary of State.)
- “Crude and Uncivil Tone.” Jackson was considered vulgar by some of his opponents. The big victory party he threw in March 1828 after his inauguration is considered the wildest party in White House history.
- “Deporting Minorities and Illegal Aliens.” The 1830 Indian Removal Act resulted on a “near holocaust” for the five tribes affected (Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole).
- “Media Was Biased.” And it was: newspapers were politically biased and tried to advance their favorites, just as today happens with CNN and FOX News.
- “Wealthy Yet a Populist.” As Trump, Jackson was a millionaire promising to defend the plight of the people. Jackson’s money came from slavery and cotton fields.