The Hill Newspaper is reporting that President Trump, during a recent interview, mused that President Andrew Jackson would have prevented the Civil War had he been “later” which presumably means having lived later since he died in 1845. The current president also wondered why there was a Civil War, for surely things could have been worked out with a deal.

Trump is on firm ground when he suggests that an Andrew Jackson around in the 1860s would have stopped the Civil War before it started. One only has to look back to how he dealt with the Nullification Crisis when South Carolina might have broken away from the Union over a tariff.

Slaveholding southerner that he was, Jackson loved the Union and would not have tolerated secession. Moreover, the southerners would have known that. They thought they could get away with it with Abraham Lincoln (a miscalculation of immense proportions.) The southerners would not have had the same delusions about Old Hickory.

Of course imagining Andrew Jackson living in the 1860s is an idle a speculation as Donald Trump suddenly transported to the same era, something that he must be thinking about as he openly wonders why the Art of the Deal could not have been applied to the problem of slavery. A Wharton School graduate, Trump must also be aware of how slavery, besides being a morally evil institution, was also economically unviable and unsustainable.

One could see Trump the time traveler sitting down with the southern leaders and trying to sell them on a plan to reform the economy of the South, moving away from slavery to a free labor system. He would have given them cogent economic analysis about the South would benefit by getting rid of slavery. He might also have thrown in facts about how the North, with its larger population and greater industrial strength, must crush the South sooner or later if matters devolved to a shooting war.

Trump’s arguments, based on reliable 21st Century economic analysis, would have been overwhelming. He would not even have had to bring in the moral dimension that the abolitionists had used. Nevertheless, he would have been utterly rejected. Slavery did not exist because it was an economically viable system. It existed because it was ingrained in a culture of racism and white supremacy.

On that basis, the southern leaders were as fanatical about preserving slavery as modern jihadis are about sharia law. There was nothing for it but Union bayonets and cannon. Even then the attitudes that protected slavery did not even begin to be eradicated for another 100 years, during the Civil Rights era.