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Nullification Crisis

Nullification Crisis

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The Nullification Crisis was a sectional
-Defined:Sectionalism is loyalty to the interests of one's own region or section of the country, rather than to the country as a whole.-United States:...

 crisis during the presidency of Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson was the seventh President of the United States . Based in frontier Tennessee, Jackson was a politician and army general who defeated the Creek Indians at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend , and the British at the Battle of New Orleans...

 created by South Carolina's
South Carolina
South Carolina is a state in the Deep South of the United States that borders Georgia to the south, North Carolina to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Originally part of the Province of Carolina, the Province of South Carolina was one of the 13 colonies that declared independence...

 1832 Ordinance of Nullification
Ordinance of Nullification
The Ordinance of Nullification declared the Tariff of 1828 and 1832 null and void within the state borders of South Carolina. It began the Nullification Crisis...

. This ordinance declared by the power of the State that the federal Tariff of 1828
Tariff of 1828
The Tariff of 1828 was a protective tariff passed by the Congress of the United States on May 19, 1828, designed to protect industry in the northern United States...

 and 1832
Tariff of 1832
The Tariff of 1832 was a protectionist tariff in the United States. It was largely written by former President John Quincy Adams, who had been elected to the House of Representatives and been made chairman of the Committee on Manufactures, and reduced tariffs to remedy the conflict created by the...

 were unconstitutional and therefore null and void within the sovereign boundaries of South Carolina
South Carolina
South Carolina is a state in the Deep South of the United States that borders Georgia to the south, North Carolina to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Originally part of the Province of Carolina, the Province of South Carolina was one of the 13 colonies that declared independence...

. The controversial and highly protective Tariff of 1828 (known to its detractors as the "Tariff of Abominations") was enacted into law during the presidency of John Quincy Adams
John Quincy Adams
John Quincy Adams was the sixth President of the United States . He served as an American diplomat, Senator, and Congressional representative. He was a member of the Federalist, Democratic-Republican, National Republican, and later Anti-Masonic and Whig parties. Adams was the son of former...

. The tariff was opposed in the South and parts of New England. Its opponents expected that the election of Jackson as President would result in the tariff being significantly reduced.

The nation had suffered an economic downturn throughout the 1820s, and South Carolina was particularly affected. Many South Carolina politicians blamed the change in fortunes on the national tariff policy that developed after the War of 1812
War of 1812
The War of 1812 was a military conflict fought between the forces of the United States of America and those of the British Empire. The Americans declared war in 1812 for several reasons, including trade restrictions because of Britain's ongoing war with France, impressment of American merchant...

 to promote American manufacturing over its British competition. By 1828 South Carolina state politics increasingly organized around the tariff issue. When the Jackson administration failed to take any actions to address their concerns, the most radical faction in the state began to advocate that the state itself declare the tariff null and void within South Carolina. In Washington, an open split on the issue occurred between Jackson and his vice-president John C. Calhoun
John C. Calhoun
John Caldwell Calhoun was a leading politician and political theorist from South Carolina during the first half of the 19th century. Calhoun eloquently spoke out on every issue of his day, but often changed positions. Calhoun began his political career as a nationalist, modernizer, and proponent...

, the most effective proponent of the constitutional theory of state nullification.

On July 14, 1832, after Calhoun had resigned his office in order to run for the Senate where he could more effectively defend nullification, Jackson signed into law the Tariff of 1832. This compromise tariff received the support of most northerners and half of the southerners in Congress. The reductions were too little for South Carolina, and in November 1832 a state convention declared that the tariffs of both 1828 and 1832 were unconstitutional and unenforceable in South Carolina after February 1, 1833. Military preparations to resist anticipated federal enforcement were initiated by the state. In late February both a Force Bill
Force Bill
The United States Force Bill, formally titled "An Act further to provide for the collection of duties on imports", 4 Stat. 632 , enacted by the 22nd U.S. Congress, consists of eight sections expanding Presidential power...

, authorizing the President to use military forces against South Carolina, and a new negotiated tariff satisfactory to South Carolina were passed by Congress. The South Carolina convention reconvened and repealed its Nullification Ordinance on March 11, 1833.

The crisis was over, and both sides could find reasons to claim victory. The tariff rates were reduced and stayed low to the satisfaction of the South, and the states’ rights doctrine of nullification had been rejected by the nation. By the 1850s the issues of the expansion of slavery into the western territories and the threat of the Slave Power
Slave power
The Slave Power was a term used in the Northern United States to characterize the political power of the slaveholding class of the South....

 became the central issues in the nation.

Background (1787 - 1816)

Historian Richard E. Ellis wrote:
The extent of this change and the problem of the actual distribution of powers between state and the federal governments would be a matter of political and ideological discussion up to the Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

 and beyond. In the early 1790s the debate centered on Alexander Hamilton’s
Alexander Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton was a Founding Father, soldier, economist, political philosopher, one of America's first constitutional lawyers and the first United States Secretary of the Treasury...

 nationalistic financial program versus Jefferson’s democratic and agrarian program, a conflict that led to the formation of two opposing national political parties. Later in the decade the Alien and Sedition Acts
Alien and Sedition Acts
The Alien and Sedition Acts were four bills passed in 1798 by the Federalists in the 5th United States Congress in the aftermath of the French Revolution's reign of terror and during an undeclared naval war with France, later known as the Quasi-War. They were signed into law by President John Adams...

 led to the states’ rights position being articulated in the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions
Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions
The Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions were political statements drafted in 1798 and 1799, in which the Kentucky and Virginia legislatures took the position that the federal Alien and Sedition Acts were unconstitutional...

. The Kentucky Resolutions, written by Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson was the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom , the third President of the United States and founder of the University of Virginia...

, contained the following which has often been cited as a justification for both nullification and secession
Secession in the United States
Secession in the United States can refer to secession of a state from the United States, secession of part of a state from that state to form a new state, or secession of an area from a city or county....

In the Virginia Resolutions, written by James Madison
James Madison
James Madison, Jr. was an American statesman and political theorist. He was the fourth President of the United States and is hailed as the “Father of the Constitution” for being the primary author of the United States Constitution and at first an opponent of, and then a key author of the United...

 there is a similar argument:
Historians differ over the extent to which either resolution actually advocated the doctrine of nullification. Historian Lance Banning wrote, “The legislators of Kentucky
The Commonwealth of Kentucky is a state located in the East Central United States of America. As classified by the United States Census Bureau, Kentucky is a Southern state, more specifically in the East South Central region. Kentucky is one of four U.S. states constituted as a commonwealth...

 (or more likely, John Breckinridge
John Breckinridge (1760-1806)
John Breckinridge was a United States Senator and Attorney General. He was the progenitor of the Breckinridge political family.-Early Life in Virginia:...

, the Kentucky legislator who sponsored the resolution) deleted Jefferson's suggestion that the rightful remedy for federal usurpations was a "nullification" of such acts by each state acting on its own to prevent their operation within its respective borders. Rather than suggesting individual, although concerted, measures of this sort, Kentucky was content to ask its sisters to unite in declarations that the acts were "void and of no force", and in "requesting their appeal" at the succeeding session of the Congress.” The key sentence, and the word "nullification" was used in supplementary Resolutions passed by Kentucky in 1799.

Madison's judgment is clearer. He was chairman of a committee of the Virginia Legislature which issued a book-length Report on the Resolutions of 1798, published in 1800 after they had been decried by several states. This asserted that the state did not claim legal force. "The declarations in such cases are expressions of opinion, unaccompanied by other effect than what they may produce upon opinion, by exciting reflection. The opinions of the judiciary, on the other hand, are carried into immediate effect by force." If the states collectively agreed in their declarations, there were several methods by which it might prevail, from persuading Congress to repeal the unconstitutional law, to calling a constitutional convention, as two-thirds of the states may. When, at the time of the Nullification Crisis, he was presented with the Kentucky resolutions of 1799, he argued that the resolutions themselves were not Jefferson's words, and that Jefferson meant this not as a constitutional but as a revolutionary right.

Madison biographer Ralph Ketchum wrote:
Historian Sean Wilentz
Sean Wilentz
Robert Sean Wilentz is the Sidney and Ruth Lapidus Professor of History at Princeton University, where he has taught since 1979.-Background:Born in 1951 in New York City, where his father Eli and uncle Ted owned a well-known Greenwich Village bookstore, the Eighth Street Bookshop, Wilentz earned...

 explains the widespread opposition to these resolutions:

The election of 1800 was a turning point in national politics as the Federalists were replaced by the Democratic-Republican Party led by Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson was the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom , the third President of the United States and founder of the University of Virginia...

 and James Madison
James Madison
James Madison, Jr. was an American statesman and political theorist. He was the fourth President of the United States and is hailed as the “Father of the Constitution” for being the primary author of the United States Constitution and at first an opponent of, and then a key author of the United...

, the authors of the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions. However the four presidential terms spanning the period from 1800 to 1817 “did little to advance the cause of states’ rights and much to weaken it.” Over Jefferson’s opposition, the power of the federal judiciary, led by Federalist Chief Justice John Marshall
John Marshall
John Marshall was the Chief Justice of the United States whose court opinions helped lay the basis for American constitutional law and made the Supreme Court of the United States a coequal branch of government along with the legislative and executive branches...

, increased. Jefferson expanded federal powers with the acquisition of the Louisiana Territory
Louisiana Territory
The Territory of Louisiana or Louisiana Territory was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from July 4, 1805 until June 4, 1812, when it was renamed to Missouri Territory...

 and his use of a national embargo designed to prevent involvement in a European war. Madison in 1809 used national troops to enforce a Supreme Court
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

 decision in Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

, appointed an “extreme nationalist” in Joseph Story
Joseph Story
Joseph Story was an American lawyer and jurist who served on the Supreme Court of the United States from 1811 to 1845. He is most remembered today for his opinions in Martin v. Hunter's Lessee and The Amistad, along with his magisterial Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States, first...

 to the Supreme Court, signed the bill creating the Second Bank of the United States
Second Bank of the United States
The Second Bank of the United States was chartered in 1816, five years after the First Bank of the United States lost its own charter. The Second Bank of the United States was initially headquartered in Carpenters' Hall, Philadelphia, the same as the First Bank, and had branches throughout the...

, and called for a constitutional amendment to promote internal improvements
Internal improvements
Internal improvements is the term used historically in the United States for public works from the end of the American Revolution through much of the 19th century, mainly for the creation of a transportation infrastructure: roads, turnpikes, canals, harbors and navigation improvements...


Opposition to the War of 1812
War of 1812
The War of 1812 was a military conflict fought between the forces of the United States of America and those of the British Empire. The Americans declared war in 1812 for several reasons, including trade restrictions because of Britain's ongoing war with France, impressment of American merchant...

 was centered in New England
New England
New England is a region in the northeastern corner of the United States consisting of the six states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut...

. Delegates to a convention in Hartford, Connecticut
Hartford, Connecticut
Hartford is the capital of the U.S. state of Connecticut. The seat of Hartford County until Connecticut disbanded county government in 1960, it is the second most populous city on New England's largest river, the Connecticut River. As of the 2010 Census, Hartford's population was 124,775, making...

 met in December 1814 to consider a New England response to Madison’s war policy. The debate allowed many radicals to argue the cause of states’ rights and state sovereignty. In the end, moderate voices dominated and the final product was not secession or nullification, but a series of proposed constitutional amendments. Identifying the South’s domination of the government as the cause of much of their problems, the proposed amendments included “the repeal of the three-fifths clause
Three-fifths compromise
The Three-Fifths Compromise was a compromise between Southern and Northern states reached during the Philadelphia Convention of 1787 in which three-fifths of the enumerated population of slaves would be counted for representation purposes regarding both the distribution of taxes and the...

, a requirement that two-thirds of both houses of Congress agree before any new state could be admitted to the Union, limits on the length of embargoes, and the outlawing of the election of a president from the same state to successive terms, clearly aimed at the Virginians.” The war was over before the proposals were submitted to President Madison.

After the conclusion of the War of 1812 Sean Wilentz notes:
This spirit of nationalism was linked to the tremendous growth and economic prosperity of this post war era. However in 1819 the nation suffered its first depression and the 1820s turned out to be a decade of political turmoil that again led to fierce debates over competing views of the exact nature of American federalism. The “extreme democratic and agrarian rhetoric” that had been so effective in 1798 led to renewed attacks on the “numerous market-oriented enterprises, particularly banks, corporations, creditors, and absentee landholders”.

Tariffs (1816-1828)

While the Tariff of 1816 had some protective features, it received support throughout the nation, including that of John C. Calhoun and fellow South Carolinian William Lowndes
William Lowndes
For other persons named William Lowndes, see William Lowndes.William Jones Lowndes was an American lawyer, planter, and statesman from South Carolina who was the son of Rawlins Lowndes, an American Revolutionary War leader from South Carolina...

. The first explicitly protective tariff linked to a specific program of internal improvements was the Tariff of 1824. Sponsored by Henry Clay
Henry Clay
Henry Clay, Sr. , was a lawyer, politician and skilled orator who represented Kentucky separately in both the Senate and in the House of Representatives...

, this tariff provided a general level of protection at 35% ad valorem
Ad valorem tax
An ad valorem tax is a tax based on the value of real estate or personal property. It is more common than a specific duty, a tax based on the quantity of an item, such as cents per kilogram, regardless of price....

 (compared to 25% with the 1816 act) and hiked duties on iron, woolens, cotton, hemp, and wool and cotton bagging. The bill barely passed the federal House of Representatives by a vote of 107 to 102. The Middle states and Northwest supported the bill, the South and Southwest opposed it, and New England split its vote with a majority opposing it. In the Senate the bill, with the support of Tennessee Senator Andrew Jackson, passed by four votes, and President James Monroe
James Monroe
James Monroe was the fifth President of the United States . Monroe was the last president who was a Founding Father of the United States, and the last president from the Virginia dynasty and the Republican Generation...

, the Virginia heir to the Jefferson-Madison control of the White House
White House
The White House is the official residence and principal workplace of the president of the United States. Located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C., the house was designed by Irish-born James Hoban, and built between 1792 and 1800 of white-painted Aquia sandstone in the Neoclassical...

, signed the bill on March 25, 1824. Daniel Webster
Daniel Webster
Daniel Webster was a leading American statesman and senator from Massachusetts during the period leading up to the Civil War. He first rose to regional prominence through his defense of New England shipping interests...

 of Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

 led the New England opposition to this tariff.

Protest against the prospect and the constitutionality of higher tariffs began in 1826 and 1827 with William Branch Giles
William Branch Giles
William Branch Giles ; the name is pronounced jyles) was an American statesman, long-term Senator from Virginia, and the 24th Governor of Virginia...

, who had the Virginia legislature pass resolutions denying the power of Congress to pass protective tariffs, citing the Virginia Resolutions of 1798 and James Madison's 1800 defense of them. Madison denied both the appeal to nullification and the unconstitutionality; he had always held that the power to regulate commerce included protection. Jefferson had, at the end of his life, written against protective tariffs.
The Tariff of 1828 was largely the work of Martin Van Buren
Martin Van Buren
Martin Van Buren was the eighth President of the United States . Before his presidency, he was the eighth Vice President and the tenth Secretary of State, under Andrew Jackson ....

 (although Silas Wright Jr. of New York prepared the main provisions) and was partly a political ploy to elect Andrew Jackson president. Van Buren calculated that the South would vote for Jackson regardless of the issues so he ignored their interests in drafting the bill. New England, he thought, was just as likely to support the incumbent John Quincy Adams, so the bill levied heavy taxes on raw materials consumed by New England such as hemp, flax, molasses, iron and sail duck. With an additional tariff on iron to satisfy Pennsylvania interests, Van Buren expected the tariff to help deliver Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

, New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

, Missouri
Missouri is a US state located in the Midwestern United States, bordered by Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. With a 2010 population of 5,988,927, Missouri is the 18th most populous state in the nation and the fifth most populous in the Midwest. It...

, Ohio
Ohio is a Midwestern state in the United States. The 34th largest state by area in the U.S.,it is the 7th‑most populous with over 11.5 million residents, containing several major American cities and seven metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more.The state's capital is Columbus...

, and Kentucky to Jackson. Over opposition from the South and some from New England, the tariff was passed with the full support of many Jackson supporters in Congress and signed by President Adams in early 1828.

As expected, Jackson and his running mate John Calhoun carried the entire South with overwhelming numbers in all the states but Louisiana where Adams drew 47% of the vote in a losing effort. However many Southerners became dissatisfied as Jackson, in his first two annual messages to Congress, failed to launch a strong attack on the tariff. Historian William J. Cooper Jr. writes:

South Carolina Background (1819-1828)

South Carolina had been adversely affected by the national economic decline of the 1820s. During this decade 56,000 whites and 30,000 slaves, out of a total free and slave population of 580,000 left the state for a better place. Historian Richard E. Ellis describes the situation:
State leaders, led by states’ rights advocates like William Smith
William Smith (South Carolina senator)
William Smith was chosen as a Democratic-Republican to the U.S. Senate representing South Carolina in 1816. The legislature declined to re-elect him when his term expired in 1823...

 and Thomas Cooper
Thomas Cooper (US politician)
Thomas Cooper was an Anglo-American economist, college president and political philosopher. Cooper was described by Thomas Jefferson as "one of the ablest men in America" and by John Adams as "a learned ingenious scientific and talented madcap." Dumas Malone stated that "modern scientific...

, blamed most of the state’s economic problems on the Tariff of 1816 and national internal improvement projects, although soil erosion and competition from the new Southwest were also very significant reasons for the state’s declining fortunes. George McDuffie
George McDuffie
George McDuffie was the 55th Governor of South Carolina and a member of the United States Senate.Born of modest means in Columbia County, Georgia, McDuffie's extraordinary intellect was noticed while clerking at a store in Augusta, Georgia...

 was a particularly effective speaker for the anti-tariff forces, and he popularized the Forty Bale theory. McDuffie argued that the 40% tariff on cotton finished goods meant that “the manufacturer actually invades your barns, and plunders you of 40 out of every 100 bales that you produce.” Mathematically incorrect, this argument still struck a nerve with his constituency. Nationalists such as Calhoun were forced by the increasing power of such leaders to retreat from their previous positions and adopt, in the words of Ellis, "an even more extreme version of the states' rights doctrine" in order to maintain political significance within South Carolina.

South Carolina’s first effort at nullification occurred in 1822. It was believed that free black sailors had assisted Denmark Vesey
Denmark Vesey
Denmark Vesey originally Telemaque, was an African American slave brought to the United States from the Caribbean of Coromantee background. After purchasing his freedom, he planned what would have been one of the largest slave rebellions in the United States...

 in his planned slave rebellion. South Carolina passed a Negro Seamen Act, which required that all black foreign seamen be imprisoned while their ships were docked in Charleston
Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston is the second largest city in the U.S. state of South Carolina. It was made the county seat of Charleston County in 1901 when Charleston County was founded. The city's original name was Charles Towne in 1670, and it moved to its present location from a location on the west bank of the...

. Supreme Court Justice William Johnson
William Johnson (judge)
William Johnson was a state legislator and judge in South Carolina, and an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court from 1804 to his death in 1834.-Youth and early career:...

, in his capacity as a circuit judge, declared this law as unconstitutional since it violated United States treaties with Great Britain
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

. The South Carolina Senate announced that the judge’s ruling was invalid and that the Act would be enforced. The federal government did not attempt to carry out Johnson's decision.

The Road to Nullification in South Carolina (1828-1832)

Historian Avery Craven
Avery Craven
Avery Odelle Craven was a historian who specialized in the study of the nineteenth-century United States and the American Civil War....

 argues that, for the most part, the debate from 1828-1832 was a local South Carolina affair. The state itself was not united and the sides were roughly equal. The western part of the state and a faction in Charleston led by Joel Poinsett
Joel Roberts Poinsett
Joel Roberts Poinsett was a physician, botanist and American statesman. He was a member of the United States House of Representatives, the first United States Minister to Mexico , a U.S...

 would remain loyal to Jackson almost to the end. Only in small part was the conflict between “a National North against a States’-right South”.

After the final vote on the Tariff of 1828, the South Carolina congressional delegation held two caucuses, the second at the home of Senator Robert Y. Hayne
Robert Y. Hayne
Robert Young Hayne was an American political leader.-Early life:Born in St. Pauls Parish, Colleton District, South Carolina, Hayne studied law in the office of Langdon Cheves in Charleston, South Carolina, and in November 1812 was admitted to the bar there, soon obtaining a large practice...

. They were rebuffed in their efforts to coordinate a united Southern response and focused on how their state, by itself, would react. While many agreed with George McDuffie that tariff policy could lead to secession at some future date, they all agreed that as much as possible the issue should be kept out of the upcoming presidential election. Calhoun, while not at this meeting, served as a moderating influence. He felt that the first step in reducing the tariff was to defeat Adams and his supporters in the upcoming election. William C. Preston
William C. Preston
William Campbell Preston was a senator from the United States and a member of the Nullifier, and later Whig Parties...

, on behalf of the South Carolina legislature asked Calhoun to prepare a report on the tariff situation. Calhoun readily accepted this challenge and in a few weeks time had a 35,000 word draft of what would become his “Exposition and Protest
South Carolina Exposition and Protest
The South Carolina Exposition and Protest, also known as Calhoun's Exposition, was written in December 1828 by John C. Calhoun, then vice president under John Quincy Adams and later under Andrew Jackson. Calhoun did not formally state his authorship at the time, though it was known.The document was...


Calhoun’s “Exposition” was completed late in 1828. He argued that the tariff of 1828 was unconstitutional because it favored manufacturing over commerce and agriculture. The tariff power, he felt, could only be used to generate revenue, not to provide protection from foreign competition for American industries. He believed that the people of a state or several states, acting in a democratically elected convention, had the retained power to veto
A veto, Latin for "I forbid", is the power of an officer of the state to unilaterally stop an official action, especially enactment of a piece of legislation...

 any act of the federal government which violated the Constitution. This veto, the core of the doctrine of nullification, was explained by Calhoun in the Exposition:
The report also detailed the specific southern grievances over the tariff that led to the current dissatisfaction. ” Fearful that “hotheads” such as McDuffie might force the legislature into taking some drastic action against the federal government, historian John Niven describes Calhoun’s political purpose in the document:
The report was submitted to the state legislature which had five thousand copies of it printed and distributed. Calhoun, who still had designs on succeeding Jackson as president, was not identified as the author but word on this soon leaked out. The legislature took no action on the report at that time.

In the summer of 1828 Robert Barnwell Rhett
Robert Rhett
Robert Barnwell Rhett, Sr. , was a United States secessionist politician from South Carolina.-Biography:...

, soon to be considered the most radical of the South Carolinians, entered the fray over the tariff. As a state representative, Rhett called for the governor to convene a special session of the legislature. An outstanding orator, Rhett appealed to his constituents to resist the majority in Congress. Rhett addressed the danger of doing nothing:
Rhett’s rhetoric which talked of revolution and war was still too radical in the summer of 1828, but with the election of Jackson assured, James Hamilton Jr.
James Hamilton Jr.
James Hamilton, Jr. was an American lawyer and politician. He represented South Carolina in the U.S. Congress and served as its 53rd Governor ....

 on October 28 in Walterborough “launched the formal nullification campaign”. Renouncing his former nationalism, Hamilton warned the people that, “Your task-master must soon become a tyrant, from the very abuses and corruption of the system, without the bowels of compassion, or a jot of human sympathy.” He called for implementation of Mr. Jefferson’s “rightful remedy” of nullification. Hamilton sent a copy of the speech directly to President-elect Jackson. However despite a statewide campaign by Hamilton and McDuffie, a proposal to call a nullification convention in 1829 was defeated by the South Carolina legislature that met at the end of 1828. State leaders such as Calhoun, Hayne, Smith, and William Drayton
William Drayton
William Drayton was an American politician, banker, and author from Charleston, South Carolina. He was the son of Federal Judge William Drayton, Sr. of South Carolina....

 were all able to remain publicly non-committal or opposed to nullification for the next couple of years.

The division in the state between radicals and conservatives continued throughout 1829 and 1830. After the failure of a state project to arrange financing of a railroad within the state to promote internal trade, the state petitioned Congress to invest $250,000 in the company attempting to build the railroad. Congress tabled the measure and the debate in South Carolina resumed between those who wanted state investment and those who wanted again to attempt to get Congress involved. The debate demonstrated that a significant minority of the state did have an interest in Clay’s American System
American System (economic plan)
The American System, originally called "The American Way", was a mercantilist economic plan that played a prominent role in American policy during the first half of the 19th century...

. However the impact of the Webster-Haynes debate (see next section) energized the radicals and some moderates started to move in their direction.

The state election campaign of 1830 focused on the tariff issue and the need for a state convention. Radicals, on the defensive, deemphasized that the convention would necessarily be pro-nullification. Where voters were presented with races where an unpledged convention was the issue, the radicals generally won. Where conservatives effectively categorized the race as being about nullification, the radicals lost. The October election was narrowly carried by the radicals although the blurring of the issues left them without any specific mandate. However in South Carolina, the governor was selected by the legislature, and the leader of the radical movement, James Hamilton, was selected as governor and fellow radical Henry L. Pinckney
Henry L. Pinckney
Henry Laurens Pinckney was a U.S. Representative from South Carolina, and the son of Charles Pinckney....

 was selected as speaker for the South Carolina House. For the open Senate seat, the more radical Stephen Miller
Stephen Decatur Miller
Stephen Decatur Miller was an American politician, who served as the 52nd Governor of South Carolina from 1828 to 1830. He represented South Carolina as a U.S. Representative from 1817 to 1819, and as a U.S. Senator from 1831 to 1833.He was born in Waxhaw settlement, South Carolina and graduated...

 was selected over William Smith.

With radicals in leading positions, in 1831, the momentum began to shift towards the radicals. State politics were now strictly divided along Nullifier
Nullifier Party
The Nullifier Party was a short-lived political party based in South Carolina in the 1830s. Started by John C. Calhoun, it was a states' rights party that supported the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions, holding that States could nullify federal laws within their borders...

 and Unionist lines. Still, the margin in the legislature fell short of the two-thirds majority needed for a convention. Many of the radicals felt that convincing Calhoun of the futility of his plans for the presidency would lead him into their ranks. Calhoun meanwhile had reached his own conclusion that Martin Van Buren was clearly establishing himself as Jackson’s heir apparent. George McDuffie, at Hamilton’s prompting, made a three hour speech in Charleston demanding nullification of the tariff at any cost. In the state, the success of McDuffie’s speech seemed to open up the possibilities of both military confrontation with the federal government and civil war within the state itself. With silence no longer an acceptable alternative, Calhoun looked for the opportunity to take control of the anti-tariff faction in the state and by June he was preparing what would be known as his Fort Hill Address.
Published on July 26, 1831, the address repeated and expanded the positions he had made in the “Exposition”. While the logic of much of the speech was consistent with the states’ rights position of most Jacksonians and even Daniel Webster remarked that it “was the ablest and most plausible, and therefore the most dangerous vindication of that particular form of Revolution”, the speech still placed Calhoun clearly in the nullifier camp. Within South Carolina, whatever attempts at moderation there were in the speech were drowned out as the state received word of the Nat Turner insurrection in Virginia. Calhoun was not alone in finding a connection between the abolition movement and the sectional aspects of the tariff issue. It confirmed for Calhoun what he had written in a September 11, 1830 letter:
From this point, the nullifiers accelerated their organization and rhetoric. In July 1831 the States Rights and Free Trade Association was formed in Charleston and expanded throughout the state. Unlike state political organizations in the past that were led by the South Carolina aristocracy, this group specifically targeted all segments of the population including non-slaveholder farmers, small slaveholders, and the Charleston non-agricultural class. Governor Hamilton was instrumental in seeing that the association, which was both a political and a social organization, expanded throughout the state, and in the winter of 1831 and spring of 1832 Hamilton held conventions and rallies throughout the state to mobilize the nullification movement. The conservatives were unable to match the radicals in either organization or leadership.

The state elections of 1832 were “charged with tension and bespattered with violence” and “polite debates often degenerated into frontier brawls.” Unlike the previous year’s election, the choice was clear between nullifiers and unionists. The nullifiers won and on October 20, 1832 Governor Hamilton called the legislature into a special session to consider a convention. The legislative vote was 96-25 in the House and 31-13 in the Senate

In November 1832 the Nullification Convention met. The convention declared that the tariffs of 1828 and 1832 were unconstitutional and unenforceable within the state of South Carolina after February 1, 1833. Furthermore, attempts to use force to collect the taxes would lead to the state’s secession. Robert Hayne, who followed Hamilton as governor in 1833, established a 2,000 man group of mounted minutemen
Minutemen were members of teams of select men from the American colonial partisan militia during the American Revolutionary War. They provided a highly mobile, rapidly deployed force that allowed the colonies to respond immediately to war threats, hence the name.The minutemen were among the first...

 and 25,000 infantry who would immediately march to Charleston in the event of a military conflict. These troops were to be armed with $100,000 in arms purchased in the North.

The enabling legislation passed by the legislature was carefully constructed to avoid clashes if at all possible and to create an aura of legality in the process. To avoid conflicts with Unionists, it allowed importers to pay the tariff if they so desired. For others, they would pay the tariff by obtaining a paper tariff bond from the customs officer. They would then refuse to pay the bond when due, and if the customs official seized the goods, the merchant would file for a writ
In common law, a writ is a formal written order issued by a body with administrative or judicial jurisdiction; in modern usage, this body is generally a court...

 of replevin
In creditors' rights law, replevin, sometimes known as "claim and delivery," is a legal remedy for a person to recover goods unlawfully withheld from his or her possession, by means of a special form of legal process in which a court may require a defendant to return specific goods to the...

 to recover the goods in state court. Customs officials who refused to return the goods (by placing them under the protection of federal troops) would be civilly liable for twice the value of the goods. To insure that state officials and judges supported the law, a test oath would be required for all new state officials that would bind them to support the ordinance of nullification.

Governor Hayne in his inaugural address made it clear where South Carolina stood:

Washington, D.C. (1828-1832)

When President Jackson took office in March 1829 he was well aware of the turmoil created by the “Tariff of Abominations”. While he may have abandoned some of his earlier beliefs that had allowed him to vote for the Tariff of 1824, he still felt protectionism was justified for products essential to military preparedness and did not believe that the current tariff should be reduced until the national debt was fully paid off. He addressed the issue in his inaugural address and his first three messages to Congress, but offered no specific relief. In December 1831, with the proponents of nullification in South Carolina gaining momentum, Jackson was recommending “the exercise of that spirit of concession and conciliation which has distinguished the friends of our Union in all great emergencies.” However on the constitutional issue of nullification, despite his strong beliefs in states’ rights, Jackson did not waver.

Calhoun’s “Exposition and Protest” did start a national debate over the doctrine of nullification. The leading proponents of the nationalistic view included Daniel Webster, Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story
Joseph Story
Joseph Story was an American lawyer and jurist who served on the Supreme Court of the United States from 1811 to 1845. He is most remembered today for his opinions in Martin v. Hunter's Lessee and The Amistad, along with his magisterial Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States, first...

, Judge William Alexander Duer
William Alexander Duer
William Alexander Duer was an American lawyer, jurist, and educator from New York City. He was a president of Columbia University, then Columbia College.-Biography:...

, John Quincy Adams
John Quincy Adams
John Quincy Adams was the sixth President of the United States . He served as an American diplomat, Senator, and Congressional representative. He was a member of the Federalist, Democratic-Republican, National Republican, and later Anti-Masonic and Whig parties. Adams was the son of former...

, Nathaniel Chipman
Nathaniel Chipman
Nathaniel Chipman was a United States Senator from Vermont, and Chief Justice of the Vermont Supreme Court....

, and Nathan Dane
Nathan Dane
Nathan Dane was an American lawyer and statesman who represented Massachusetts in the Continental Congress from 1785 through 1788...

. These people rejected the compact theory advanced by Calhoun, claiming that the Constitution was the product of the people, not the states. According to the nationalist position, the Supreme Court had the final say on the constitutionality of legislation, the national union was perpetual and had supreme authority over individual states. The nullifiers, on the other hand, asserted that the central government was not to be the ultimate arbiter of its own power, and that the states, as the contracting entities, could judge for themselves what was or was not constitutional. While Calhoun’s “Exposition” claimed that nullification was based on the reasoning behind the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions, an aging James Madison in an August 28, 1830 letter to Edward Everett
Edward Everett
Edward Everett was an American politician and educator from Massachusetts. Everett, a Whig, served as U.S. Representative, and U.S. Senator, the 15th Governor of Massachusetts, Minister to Great Britain, and United States Secretary of State...

, intended for publication, disagreed. Madison wrote, denying that any individual state could alter the compact:

Part of the South’s strategy to force repeal of the tariff was to arrange an alliance with the West. Under the plan, the South would support the West’s demand for free lands in the public domain if the West would support repeal of the tariff. With this purpose Robert Hayne took the floor on the Senate in early 1830, thus beginning “the most celebrated debate, in the Senate’s history.” Daniel Webster’s response shifted the debate, subsequently styled the Webster-Hayne debate
Webster-Hayne debate
The Webster–Hayne debate was a famous debate in the U.S. between Senator Daniel Webster of Massachusetts and Senator Robert Y. Hayne of South Carolina that took place on January 19-27, 1830 regarding protectionist tariffs...

s, from the specific issue of western lands to a general debate on the very nature of the United States. Webster's position differed from Madison's: Webster asserted that the people of the United States acted as one aggregate body, Madison held that the people of the several states had acted collectively. John Rowan spoke against Webster on that issue, and Madison wrote, congratulating Webster, but explaining his own position. The debate presented the fullest articulation of the differences over nullification, and 40,000 copies of Webster’s response, which concluded with “liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable”, were distributed nationwide.

Many people expected the states’ rights Jackson to side with Haynes. However once the debate shifted to secession and nullification, Jackson sided with Webster. On April 13, 1830 at the traditional Democratic Party celebration honoring Thomas Jefferson’s birthday, Jackson chose to make his position clear. In a battle of toasts, Hayne proposed, “The Union of the States, and the Sovereignty of the States.” Jackson’s response, when his turn came, was, “Our Federal Union: It must be preserved.” To those attending, the effect was dramatic. Calhoun would respond with his own toast, in a play on Webster’s closing remarks in the earlier debate, “The Union. Next to our liberty, the most dear.” Finally Martin Van Buren
Martin Van Buren
Martin Van Buren was the eighth President of the United States . Before his presidency, he was the eighth Vice President and the tenth Secretary of State, under Andrew Jackson ....

 would offer, “Mutual forbearance and reciprocal concession. Through their agency the Union was established. The patriotic spirit from which they emanated will forever sustain it.”

Van Buren wrote in his autobiography of Jackson’s toast, “The veil was rent – the incantations of the night were exposed to the light of day.” Thomas Hart Benton
Thomas Hart Benton (senator)
Thomas Hart Benton , nicknamed "Old Bullion", was a U.S. Senator from Missouri and a staunch advocate of westward expansion of the United States. He served in the Senate from 1821 to 1851, becoming the first member of that body to serve five terms...

, in his memoirs, stated that the toast “electrified the country.” Jackson would have the final words a few days later when a visitor from South Carolina asked if Jackson had any message he wanted relayed to his friends back in the state. Jackson’s reply was:
Other issues than the tariff were still being decided. In May 1830 Jackson vetoed an important (especially to Kentucky and Henry Clay) internal improvements program in the Maysville Road Bill
Maysville Road veto
The Maysville Road veto occurred on May 27, 1830, when President Andrew Jackson vetoed a bill which would allow the Federal government to purchase stock in the Maysville, Washington, Paris, and Lexington Turnpike Road Company, which had been organized to construct a road linking Lexington and the...

 and then followed this with additional vetoes of other such projects shortly before Congress adjourned at the end of May. Clay would use these vetoes to launch his presidential campaign. In 1831 the re-chartering of the Bank of the United States, with Clay and Jackson on opposite sides, reopened a long simmering problem. This issue was featured at the December 1831 National Republican convention in Baltimore
Baltimore is the largest independent city in the United States and the largest city and cultural center of the US state of Maryland. The city is located in central Maryland along the tidal portion of the Patapsco River, an arm of the Chesapeake Bay. Baltimore is sometimes referred to as Baltimore...

 which nominated Henry Clay for president, and the proposal to re-charter was formally introduced into Congress on January 6, 1832. The Calhoun-Jackson split entered the center stage when Calhoun, as vice-president presiding over the Senate, cast the tie-breaking vote to deny Martin Van Buren the post of minister to England. Van Buren was subsequently selected as Jackson’s running mate at the 1832 Democratic National Convention
1832 Democratic National Convention
The 1832 Democratic National Convention was held from 21–23 May, in Baltimore, Maryland. This was the first national convention of the Democratic Party of the United States; it followed presidential nominating conventions held by the Anti-Masonic Party and the National Republican Party...

 held in May.

In February 1832 Henry Clay, back in the Senate after a two decades absence, made a three day long speech calling for a new tariff schedule and an expansion of his American System. In an effort to reach out to John Calhoun and other southerners, Clay’s proposal provided for a ten million dollar revenue reduction based on the amount of budget surplus he anticipated for the coming year. Significant protection was still part of the plan as the reduction primarily came on those imports not in competition with domestic producers. Jackson proposed an alternative that reduced overall tariffs to 28%. John Quincy Adams, now in the House of Representatives, used his Committee of Manufacturers to produce a compromise bill that, in its final form, reduced revenues by five million dollars, lowered duties on non-competitive products, and retained high tariffs on woolens, iron, and cotton products. In the course of the political maneuvering, George McDuffie’s Ways and Means Committee, the normal originator of such bills, prepared a bill with drastic reduction across the board. McDuffie’s bill went nowhere. Jackson signed the Tariff of 1832 on July 14, 1832, a few days after he vetoed the Bank of the United States re-charter bill. Congress adjourned after it failed to override Jackson’s veto.

With Congress in adjournment, Jackson anxiously watched events in South Carolina. The nullifiers found no significant compromise in the Tariff of 1832 and acted accordingly (see the above section). Jackson heard rumors of efforts to subvert members of the army and navy in Charleston and he ordered the secretaries of the army and navy to begin rotating troops and officers based on their loyalty. He ordered General Winfield Scott
Winfield Scott
Winfield Scott was a United States Army general, and unsuccessful presidential candidate of the Whig Party in 1852....

 to prepare for military operations and ordered a naval squadron in Norfolk
Norfolk, Virginia
Norfolk is an independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia in the United States. With a population of 242,803 as of the 2010 Census, it is Virginia's second-largest city behind neighboring Virginia Beach....

 to prepare to go to Charleston. Jackson kept lines of communication open with unionists like Joel Poinsett
Joel Roberts Poinsett
Joel Roberts Poinsett was a physician, botanist and American statesman. He was a member of the United States House of Representatives, the first United States Minister to Mexico , a U.S...

, William Drayton
William Drayton
William Drayton was an American politician, banker, and author from Charleston, South Carolina. He was the son of Federal Judge William Drayton, Sr. of South Carolina....

, and James L. Petigru
James L. Petigru
James Louis Petigru was a lawyer, politician, and jurist in South Carolina. He is best known for his service as the state's Attorney General, his juridical work that played a key role in the recodification of the state's law code, and his opposition to nullification and, in 1860, state...

 and sent George Breathitt, brother of the Kentucky governor
John Breathitt
John Breathitt was the 11th Governor of Kentucky. He was the first Democrat to hold this office and was the second Kentucky governor to die in office. Shortly after his death, Breathitt County, Kentucky was created and named in his honor.Early in life, Breathitt was appointed a deputy surveyor in...

, to independently obtain political and military intelligence. After their defeat at the polls in October, Petigru advised Jackson that he should " Be prepared to hear very shortly of a State Convention and an act of Nullification.” On October 19, 1832 Jackson wrote to his Secretary of War, “The attempt will be made to surprise the Forts and garrisons by the militia, and must be guarded against with vestal vigilance and any attempt by force repelled with prompt and exemplary punishment.” By mid-November Jackson’s reelection was assured.

On December 3, 1832 Jackson sent his fourth annual message to Congress. The message “was stridently states’ rights and agrarian in its tone and thrust” and he disavowed protection as anything other than a temporary expedient. His intent regarding nullification, as communicated to Van Buren, was “to pass it barely in review, as a mere buble [sic], view the existing laws as competent to check and put it down.” He hoped to create a “moral force” that would transcend political parties and sections. The paragraph in the message that addressed nullification was:
On December 10 Jackson issued the Proclamation to the People of South Carolina
Proclamation to the People of South Carolina
The Proclamation to the People of South Carolina was written by Edward Livingston and issued by Andrew Jackson on December 10, 1832. Written at the height of the Nullification Crisis, the proclamation directly responds to the Ordinance of Nullification passed by the South Carolina legislature in...

, in which he characterized the positions of the nullifiers as "impractical absurdity" and "a metaphysical subtlety, in pursuit of an impractical theory." He provided this concise statement of his belief:
The language used by Jackson, combined with the reports coming out of South Carolina, raised the spectre of military confrontation for many on both sides of the issue. A group of Democrats, led by Van Buren and Thomas Hart Benton among others, saw the only solution to the crisis in a substantial reduction of the tariff.

Negotiation and Confrontation (1833)

In apparent contradiction of his previous claim that the tariff could be enforced with existing laws, on January 16 Jackson sent his Force Bill Message to Congress. Custom houses in Beaufort
Beaufort, South Carolina
Beaufort is a city in and the county seat of Beaufort County, South Carolina, United States. Chartered in 1711, it is the second-oldest city in South Carolina, behind Charleston. The city's population was 12,361 in the 2010 census. It is located in the Hilton Head Island-Beaufort Micropolitan...

 and Georgetown
Georgetown, South Carolina
Georgetown is the third oldest city in the U.S. state of South Carolina and the county seat of Georgetown County, in the Low Country. Located on Winyah Bay at the confluence of the Great Pee Dee River, Waccamaw River, and Sampit River, Georgetown is the second largest seaport in South Carolina,...

 would be closed and replaced by ships located at each port. In Charleston the custom house would be moved to either Castle Pinckney
Castle Pinckney
Castle Pinckney was a small masonry fortification constructed by the United States government by 1810 in the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina...

 or Fort Moultrie in Charleston harbor. Direct payment rather than bonds would be required, and federal jails would be established for violators that the state refused to arrest and all cases arising under the state’s nullification act could be removed to the United States Circuit Court
United States circuit court
The United States circuit courts were the original intermediate level courts of the United States federal court system. They were established by the Judiciary Act of 1789. They had trial court jurisdiction over civil suits of diversity jurisdiction and major federal crimes. They also had appellate...

. In the most controversial part, the militia acts of 1795 and 1807 would be revised to permit the enforcement of the custom laws by both the militia and the regular United States military. Attempts were made in South Carolina to shift the debate away from nullification by focusing instead on the proposed enforcement.

The Force bill went to the Senate Judiciary Committee chaired by Pennsylvania protectionist William Wilkins
William Wilkins (U.S. politician)
William Wilkins was an American lawyer, jurist, and politician from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. During his career, he served in both houses of the Pennsylvania State Legislature, and in all three branches of the United States federal government, including service as a United States federal judge, as...

 and supported by members Daniel Webster and Theodore Frelinghuysen
Theodore Frelinghuysen
Theodore Frelinghuysen was an American politician, serving as New Jersey Attorney General, United States Senator, and Mayor of Newark, New Jersey before running as a candidate for Vice President with Henry Clay on the Whig ticket in the election of 1844...

 of New Jersey; it gave Jackson everything he asked. On January 28 the Senate defeated a motion by a vote of 30 to 15 to postpone debate on the bill. All but two of the votes to delay were from the lower South and only three from this section voted against the motion. This did not signal any increased support for nullification but did signify doubts about enforcement. In order to draw more votes, proposals were made to limit the duration of the coercive powers and restrict the use of force to suppressing, rather than preventing, civil disorder. In the House the Judiciary Committee, in a 4-3 vote, rejected Jackson’s request to use force. By the time Calhoun made a major speech on February 15 strongly opposing it, the Force Bill was temporarily stalled.

On the tariff issue, the drafting of a compromise tariff was assigned in December to the House Ways and Means Committee, now headed by Gulian C. Verplanck
Gulian Crommelin Verplanck
Gulian Crommelin Verplanck was a New York politician and sometime man of letters.-Biography:Verplanck was born in Wall Street in New York City, the son of Congressman Daniel C. Verplanck. He graduated B.A. from Columbia College in 1801, then studied law with Josiah Ogden Hoffman and was admitted...

. Debate on the committee’s product on the House floor began in January 1833. The Verplanck tariff proposed reductions back to the 1816 levels over the course of the next two years while maintaining the basic principle of protectionism. The anti-Jackson protectionists saw this as an economic disaster that did not allow the Tariff of 1832 to even be tested and "an undignified truckling to the menaces and blustering of South Carolina." Northern Democrats did not oppose it in principle but still demanded protection for the varying interests of their own constituents. Those sympathetic to the nullifiers wanted a specific abandonment of the principle of protectionism and were willing to offer a longer transition period as a bargaining point. It was clear that the Verplanck tariff was not going to be implemented.

In South Carolina, efforts were being made to avoid an unnecessary confrontation. Governor Hayne ordered the 25,000 troops he had created to train at home rather than gathering in Charleston. At a mass meeting in Charleston on January 21, it was decided to postpone the February 1 deadline for implementing nullification while Congress worked on a compromise tariff. At the same time a commissioner from Virginia, Benjamin Watkins Leigh
Benjamin W. Leigh
Benjamin Watkins Leigh was an American lawyer and politician from Richmond, Virginia. He served in the Virginia House of Delegates and represented Virginia in the United States Senate. Benjamin Watkins Leigh was born in Chesterfield County on June 18, 1781, the son of the Reverend William Leigh...

, arrived in Charleston bearing resolutions that criticized both Jackson and the nullifiers and offering his state as a mediator.

Henry Clay had not taken his defeat in the presidential election well and was unsure on what position he could take in the tariff negotiations. His long term concern was that Jackson eventually was determined to kill protectionism along with the American Plan. In February, after consulting with manufacturers and sugar interests in Louisiana who favored protection for the sugar industry, Clay started to work on a specific compromise plan. As a starting point, he accepted the nullifiers' offer of a transition period but extended it from seven and a half years to nine years with a final target of a 20% ad valorem rate. After first securing the support of his protectionist base, Clay, through an intermediary, broached the subject with Calhoun. Calhoun was receptive and after a private meeting with Clay at Clay’s boardinghouse, negotiations preceded.

Clay introduced the negotiated tariff bill on February 12, and it was immediately referred to a select committee consisting of Clay as chairman, Felix Grundy
Felix Grundy
Felix Grundy was a U.S. Congressman and U.S. Senator from Tennessee who also served as the 13th Attorney General of the United States.-Biography:...

 of Tennessee, George M. Dallas
George M. Dallas
George Mifflin Dallas was a U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania and the 11th Vice President of the United States , serving under James K. Polk.-Family and early life:...

 of Pennsylvania, William Cabell Rives
William Cabell Rives
William Cabell Rives was an American lawyer, politician and diplomat from Albemarle County, Virginia. He represented Virginia as a Jackson Democrat in both the U.S. House and Senate and also served as the U.S. minister to France....

 of Virginia, Webster, John M. Clayton
John M. Clayton
John Middleton Clayton was an American lawyer and politician from Delaware. He was a member of the Whig Party who served in the Delaware General Assembly, and as U.S. Senator from Delaware and U.S. Secretary of State....

 of Delaware, and Calhoun. On February 21 the committee reported a bill to the floor of the Senate which was largely the original bill proposed by Clay. The Tariff of 1832 would continue except that reduction of all rates above 20% would be reduced by one tenth every two years with the final reductions back to 20% coming in 1842. Protectionism as a principle was not abandoned and provisions were made for raising the tariff if national interests demanded it.

Although not specifically linked by any negotiated agreement, it became clear that the Force Bill and Compromise Tariff of 1833
Tariff of 1833
The Tariff of 1833 was proposed by Henry Clay and John C. Calhoun as a resolution to the Nullification Crisis...

 were inexorably linked. In his February 25 speech ending the debate on the tariff, Clay captured the spirit of the voices for compromise by condemning Jackson's Proclamation to South Carolina as inflammatory, admitting the same problem with the Force Bill but indicating its necessity, and praising the Compromise Tariff as the final measure to restore balance, promote the rule of law, and avoid the "sacked cities", "desolated fields", and "smoking ruins" that he said would be the product of the failure to reach a final accord. The House passed the Compromise Tariff by 119-85 and the Force Bill by 149-48. In the Senate the tariff passed 29-16 and the Force bill by 32-1 with many opponents of it walking out rather than voting for it.

Calhoun rushed to Charleston with the news of the final compromises. The Nullification Convention met again on March 11. It repealed the November Nullification Ordinance and also, "in a purely symbolic gesture", nullified the Force Bill. While the nullifiers claimed victory on the tariff issue, even though they had made concessions, the verdict was very different on nullification. The majority had, in the end, ruled and this boded ill for the South and their minorities hold on slavery. Rhett summed this up at the convention on March 13. Warning that, "A people, owning slaves, are mad, or worse than mad, who do not hold their destinies in their own hands," he continued:


The final resolution of the crisis and Jackson’s leadership had appeal throughout the North and South. Robert Remini
Robert V. Remini
Robert Vincent Remini is a historian and a professor emeritus at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He is the author of numerous works about President Andrew Jackson and the Jacksonian Era....

, the historian and Jackson biographer, described the opposition that nullification drew from traditionally states’ rights Southern states:
Forest McDonald, describing the split over nullification among proponents of states rights, wrote, “The doctrine of states’ rights, as embraced by most Americans, was not concerned exclusively, or even primarily with state resistance to federal authority.”

However, by the end of the nullification crisis, many southerners started to question whether the Jacksonian Democrats still represented Southern interests. Historian William J. Cooper notes that, “Numerous southerners had begun to perceive it [the Jacksonian Democratic Party] as a spear aimed at the South rather than a shield defending the South.” In the political vacuum created by this alienation, the southern wing of the Whig Party was formed. The party was a coalition of interests united by the common thread of opposition to Andrew Jackson and, more specifically, his “definition of federal and executive power.” The party included former National Republicans with an “urban, commercial, and nationalist outlook” as well as former nullifiers. Emphasizing that “they were more southern than the Democrats,” the party grew within the South by going “after the abolition issue with unabashed vigor and glee.” With both parties arguing who could best defend southern institutions, the nuances of the differences between free soil and abolitionism
Abolitionism is a movement to end slavery.In western Europe and the Americas abolitionism was a movement to end the slave trade and set slaves free. At the behest of Dominican priest Bartolomé de las Casas who was shocked at the treatment of natives in the New World, Spain enacted the first...

, which became an issue in the late 1840s with the Mexican War and territorial expansion, never became part of the political dialogue. This failure increased the volatility of the slavery issues.

Richard Ellis argues that the end of the crisis signified the beginning of a new era. Within the states’ rights movement the traditional desire for simply “a weak, inactive, and frugal government” was challenged. Ellis states that “in the years leading up to the Civil War the nullifiers and their pro-slavery allies used the doctrine of states’ rights and state sovereignty in such a way as to try to expand the powers of the federal government so that it could more effectively protect the peculiar institution.” States’ rights had become, by the 1850s, a call for state equality under the Constitution.

Madison reacted to this incipient tendency by leaving among his papers two paragraphs of "Advice to My Country", which declared that the Union "should be cherished and perpetuated. Let the open enemy to it be regarded as a Pandora with her box opened; and the disguised one, as the Serpent creeping with his deadly wiles into paradise." Richard Rush
Richard Rush
Richard Rush was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was the second son of Benjamin Rush, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence and Julia Rush. He entered the College of New Jersey at the age of 14, and graduated in 1797 as the youngest member of his class...

 duly published this in 1850, by which time Southern spirit was so high that it was denounced as a forgery.

The first test for the South over the slavery issue began during the final congressional session of 1835. In what became known as the Gag Rule Debates, abolitionists flooded the Congress with anti-slavery petitions focusing on ending slavery and the slave trade in Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

  The debate was reopened each session as Southerners, led by South Carolinians Henry Pinckney and John Hammond, prevented the petitions from even being officially received by Congress. Led by John Quincy Adams, the slavery debate remained on the national stage until late 1844 when Congress lifted all restrictions on processing the petitions.

Describing the legacy of the crisis, Sean Wilentz writes:
For South Carolina, the legacy of the crisis involved both the divisions within the state during the crisis and the apparent isolation of the state as the crisis was resolved. By 1860, when South Carolina became the first state to secede, the state was more internally united than any other southern state. Historian Charles Edward Cauthen writes:

See also

  • Origins of the American Civil War
    Origins of the American Civil War
    The main explanation for the origins of the American Civil War is slavery, especially Southern anger at the attempts by Northern antislavery political forces to block the expansion of slavery into the western territories...

  • American System (economic plan)
    American System (economic plan)
    The American System, originally called "The American Way", was a mercantilist economic plan that played a prominent role in American policy during the first half of the 19th century...

  • American School (economics)
    American School (economics)
    The American School, also known as "National System", represents three different yet related constructs in politics, policy and philosophy. It was the American policy for the 1860s to the 1940s, waxing and waning in actual degrees and details of implementation...

  • Alexander Hamilton
    Alexander Hamilton
    Alexander Hamilton was a Founding Father, soldier, economist, political philosopher, one of America's first constitutional lawyers and the first United States Secretary of the Treasury...

  • Friedrich List
    Friedrich List
    Georg Friedrich List was a leading 19th century German economist who developed the "National System" or what some would call today the National System of Innovation...

  • Nullification Convention

Further reading

  • Barnwell, John. Love of Order: South Carolina's First Secession Crisis (1982)
  • Capers, Gerald M. John C. Calhoun, Opportunist: A Reappraisal (1960)
  • Coit, Margaret L. John C. Calhoun: American Portrait (1950)
  • Latner, Richard B. "The Nullification Crisis and Republican Subversion," Journal of Southern History 43 (1977): 18-38, in JSTOR
  • McCurry, Stephanie. Masters of Small Worlds.New York: Oxford UP, 1993.
  • Pease, Jane H. and William H. Pease, "The Economics and Politics of Charleston's Nullification Crisis", Journal of Southern History 47 (1981): 335-62, in JSTOR
  • Ratcliffe, Donald. "The Nullification Crisis, Southern Discontents, and the American Political Process", American Nineteenth Century History. Vol 1: 2 (2000) pp. 1–30
  • Wiltse, Charles. John C. Calhoun, nullifier, 1829-1839 (1949)

External links