Trump Claims Civil War Could Have Been ‘Negotiated’ Instead Of Fought—But Doesn’t Explain How

Trump Claims Civil War Could Have Been ‘Negotiated’ Instead Of Fought—But Doesn’t Explain How


Former President Donald Trump said that negotiations could have prevented the Civil War while speaking at a campaign event in Iowa on Saturday, as the more than 150-year-old conflict remains an unexpected talking point along the Republican primary campaign trail.

FILE – Former President Donald Trump speaks during a commit to caucus rally, Oct. 29, 2023, in Sioux … [+] City, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)

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Key Facts

Of the war, Trump said “so many mistakes were made,” adding: “This is something that could have been negotiated.”

He claimed that had it been negotiated, “you probably wouldn’t know who Abraham Lincoln was,” but “that would’ve been OK.”

Trump did not elaborate on what negotiations he thought would have prevented the outbreak of the Civil War—the deadliest war in U.S. history.

Officials did attempt to negotiate and compromise in order to stave off the Civil War, including in the unsuccessful Washington Peace Conference of 1861—many historians don’t believe the war was avoidable, at least not without maintaining slavery.

Crucial Quote

“I know it very well, I know the whole process that they went through and they just couldn’t get along,” Trump said. “That would have been something that could have been negotiated and they wouldn’t have had that problem. But it was a hell of a time.”

Key Background

Trump’s comments come as one of his most competitive opponents, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, has continued to try to recover from backlash over her answer to a question from a voter in New Hampshire last month, in which she didn’t list slavery as a cause of the Civil War. She faced attacks from her opponents, clarifying her comments as recently as this week, telling a town hall in Iowa that she “should have said slavery.” On Friday, before his most recent comments, Trump joined in on the attacks on Haley, telling an audience in Iowa that “slavery is sort of the obvious answer.” It’s not the first time Trump has mused on the Civil War. He made similar claims in 2017 questioning the inevitability of the war and suggested that had Andrew Jackson lived at the time of the Civil War, he could have prevented it from happening.


Trump also mentioned President Xi Jinping of China during the speech, saying: “He controls 1.4 billion people ruthlessly. Ruthlessly. No games, right? They said, ‘is President Xi of China a brilliant man?’ I said, ‘yes he is.’ He’s a brilliant man.”

Further Reading

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