Andrew Jackson Was Dead, But the Democrats Still Mattered to Civil War Causation by Nicole Etcheson

We hope this short blog series reflecting on past issues of the journal has been a useful reminder of the excellent scholarship being produced on the causes and background of the Civil War. Today we end the series with a post by Nicole Etcheson, but the conversation over these questions can (and will) continue on social media. To access past issues, please visit Project Muse. And, don’t forget to follow us on Twitter (@JCWE1) and like our Facebook page.


In remarks to the Washington Examiner, President Donald Trump compared his campaign to Andrew Jackson’s and concluded by wondering, “the Civil War, you think about it, why?”[1] The President thus linked Jackson’s Democratic party, and the Second Party System, to the Civil War.

Trump’s connection is not a new one. Nineteenth-century Northerners remembered that President Jackson had stood up to the South Carolina nullifiers and, well aware that Jackson was dead, they longed for their politicians to show similar resolution. Abraham Lincoln hung a portrait of Jackson in his White House office. Until recently, however, historians had emphasized the emergence of the Republican party rather than the collapse of the Democratic one. James L. Huston, in “The Illinois Political Realignment of 1844-1860: Revisiting the Analysis” (in the December 2011 issue) challenges received wisdom about the realignment that destroyed the Second Party System and created President Trump’s party, the Republicans, by returning historians’ attention to the Democrats.[2]

The full articile can be viewed on the Journal of the Civil War Era Muster blog.