Donald Trump plans to visit Nashville next week to rally supporters and perhaps pay homage to predecessor and unlikely political idol Andrew Jackson, America’s first populist president.
Trump plans to hold a campaign-style rally in the city on Jackson’s 250th birthday Wednesday and, according to the Tennessean newspaper, could visit the nearby Hermitage -- the final resting place of America’s seventh president.
Since coming to office in January, Trump aides have sought to draw comparisons between the bareknuckle Democratic president and Trump.
A portrait of Jackson has been introduced to the Oval Office and Trump’s top strategist Steve Bannon described his boss’s populist inaugural address “Jacksonian.”
Not so fast, says Jackson historian Daniel Feller, of the University of Tennessee.
“I can understand fully why Trump wants to portray himself as the second coming of Andrew Jackson. I don’t see much similarity myself,” he said.
“The narrative of Andrew Jackson is that a great popular hero came in and overthrew the existing establishment in Washington, that he was an outsider, that he was not taken seriously.”
That is exactly the image Trump has tried to cultivate -- despite losing the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by three million votes.
Where Jackson pledged to speak for the common man and spoke of “cleansing the Augean stable,” Trump talks of “draining the swamp” in Washington.
But historians say Jackson’s story is more subtle.
Born in the backwoods in 1767, he was orphaned in his early teens. He gained a reputation as a fighter: As a young man he was cut with a sabre for refusing to polish a British soldier’s boots and once killed a man in a duel.
He gained fame as a military hero for defeating the British in New Orleans.