Nullification Crisis : Nullification Proclamation

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Nullification Proclamation and Nullification Crisis
South Carolina and the Nullification Proclamation

President Andrew Jackson and the Nullification Crisis
Nullification Proclamation, Nullification Crisis, and the American Civil War
 
South Carolina threatened to secede from the Union in the 1830s because of high tariffs.

On December 10, 1832, President Andrew Jackson issued a proclamation to the people of South Carolina that disputed a state's right to nullify a federal law. Jackson's proclamation was written in response to an ordinance issued by a South Carolina convention that declared that the tariff acts of 1828 and 1832 "are unauthorized by the Constitution of the United States, and violate the true meaning and intent thereof and are null, void, and no law, nor binding upon this State." See also South Carolina Ordinance of Nullification: November 24, 1832.
 
Led by John C. Calhoun, Jackson's vice president at the time, the nullifiers felt that the tariff acts of 1828 and 1832 favored Northern-manufacturing interests at the expense of Southern farmers. After Jackson issued his proclamation, Congress passed the Force Act that authorized the use of military force against any state that resisted the tariff acts. In 1833, Henry Clay helped broker a compromise bill with Calhoun that slowly lowered tariffs over the next decade. The Compromise Tariff of 1833 was eventually accepted by South Carolina and ended the nullification crisis, but the tariff controversy fueled sectionalism and fanned the flames of secession and civil war.

(Additional reading below.)

Recommended Reading: Prelude to Civil War: The Nullification Controversy in South Carolina, 1816-1836. Review: When William Freehling's Prelude to Civil War first appeared in 1965 it was immediately hailed as a brilliant and incisive study of the origins of the Civil War. Book Week called it "fresh, exciting, and convincing," while The Virginia Quarterly Review praised it as, quite simply, "history at its best." It was equally well-received by historical societies, garnering the Allan Nevins History Prize as well as a Bancroft Prize, the most prestigious history award of all. Now once again available, Prelude to Civil War is still the definitive work on the subject, and one of the most important in antebellum studies. It tells the story of the Nullification Controversy in South Carolina, describing how from 1816 to 1836 aristocratic planters of the Palmetto State tumbled from a contented and prosperous life of elegant balls and fine Madeira wines to a world rife with economic distress, guilt over slavery, and apprehension of slave rebellion. It shows in compelling detail how this reversal of fortune led the political leaders of South Carolina down the path to ever more radical states rights doctrines: in 1832 they were seeking to nullify federal law by refusing to obey it; four years later some of them were considering secession. Continued below…

As the story unfolds, we meet a colorful and skillfully drawn cast of characters, among them John C. Calhoun, who hoped that nullification would save both his highest priority, slavery, and his next priority, union; President Andrew Jackson, who threatened to hang Calhoun and lead federal troops into South Carolina; Denmark Vesey, who organized and nearly brought off a slave conspiracy; and Martin Van Buren, the "Little Magician," who plotted craftily to replace Calhoun in Jackson's esteem. These and other important figures come to life in these pages, and help to tell a tale--often in their own words--central to an understanding of the war which eventually engulfed the United States. Demonstrating how a profound sensitivity to the still-shadowy slavery issue--not serious economic problems alone--led to the Nullification Controversy, Freehling revises many theories previously held by historians. He describes how fear of abolitionists and their lobbying power in Congress prompted South Carolina's leaders to ban virtually any public discussion of the South's "peculiar institution," and shows that while the Civil War had many beginnings, none was more significant than this single, passionate controversy. Written in a lively and eminently readable style, Prelude to Civil War is must reading for anyone trying to discover the roots of the conflict that soon would tear the Union apart.

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Related Reading:
 

Recommended Reading: The Impending Crisis, 1848-1861 (Paperback), by David M. Potter. Review: Professor Potter treats an incredibly complicated and misinterpreted time period with unparalleled objectivity and insight. Potter masterfully explains the climatic events that led to Southern secession – a greatly divided nation – and the Civil War: the social, political and ideological conflicts; culture; American expansionism, sectionalism and popular sovereignty; economic and tariff systems; and slavery. In other words, Potter places under the microscope the root causes and origins of the Civil War. He conveys the subjects in easy to understand language to edify the reader's understanding (it's not like reading some dry old history book). Delving beyond surface meanings and interpretations, this book analyzes not only the history, but the historiography of the time period as well. Continued below…

Professor Potter rejects the historian's tendency to review the period with all the benefits of hindsight. He simply traces the events, allowing the reader a step-by-step walk through time, the various views, and contemplates the interpretations of contemporaries and other historians. Potter then moves forward with his analysis. The Impending Crisis is the absolute gold-standard of historical writing… This simply is the book by which, not only other antebellum era books, but all history books should be judged.

 
Recommended Reading: Nullification: How to Resist Federal Tyranny in the 21st Century. Description: Citizens across the country are fed up with the politicians in Washington telling us how to live our lives—and then sticking us with the bill. But what can we do? Actually, we can just say “no.” As New York Times bestselling author Thomas E. Woods, Jr., explains, “nullification” allows states to reject unconstitutional federal laws. For many tea partiers nationwide, nullification is rapidly becoming the only way to stop an over-reaching government drunk on power. From privacy to national healthcare, Woods shows how this growing and popular movement is sweeping across America and empowering states to take action against Obama’s socialist policies and big-government agenda. Continued below...
From the Inside Flap: Unconstitutional laws are pouring out of Washington…but we can stop them.
Just ask Thomas Jefferson. There is a “rightful remedy” to federal power grabs—it’s called Nullification.
In Nullification: How to Resist Federal Tyranny in the 21st Century, historian and New York Times bestselling author Thomas E. Woods, Jr. explains not only why nullification is the constitutional tool the Founders envisioned, but how it works—and has already been employed in cases ranging from upholding the First Amendment to knocking down slave laws before the Civil War. In Nullification, Woods shows:
* How the states were meant to be checks against federal tyranny—and how a growing roster of governors and state attorneys general are recognizing they need to become that again
* Why the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution reinforces the rights of states to nullify unconstitutional laws
* Why it was left to the states to uphold the simple principle that an unconstitutional law is no law at all
* Why, without nullification, ordinary Americans will continue to suffer the oppression of unjust, unconstitutional laws
* PLUS thorough documentation of how the Founding Fathers believed nullification could be applied
Nullification is not just a book—it could become a movement to restore the proper constitutional limits of the federal government. Powerful, provocative, and timely, Nullification is sure to stir debate and become a constitutional handbook for all liberty-loving Americans.

 

Recommended Reading: When in the Course of Human Events: Arguing the Case for Southern Secession. Review: As a historian, I have learned that the heart of any great work in history lies in the ample and accurate use of primary sources, and primary sources are the great strength of this work. While countless tomes have debated the perceived moral sides of the Civil War and the motivations of the various actors, this work investigates the motives of the primary players in the era and in their own words and writings. This gives the work an excellent realism and accuracy. The author, Charles Adams, has earned a reputation as one of the leading economic historians in the field, particularly in the area of taxes. He utilizes this background to investigate the American Civil War, and comes to some very striking conclusions, many that defy the politically-correct history of today. His thesis postulates that the Civil War had its primary cause not in slavery or state's rights, but rather in cold, hard economic concerns. Continued below...

He shows that the North used its supremacy in Congress to push through massive tariffs to fund the government, and that these tariffs fell much harder on the export-dependent South than upon the insular north. In fact, the total revenue from the "Compromise" Tariffs on the 1830s and 40s amounted to $107.5 million, of which $90 million came from the South. The majority of the revenue, moreover, was spent on projects “far from the South.” According to Adams, this disparity finally pushed the South to seek its own independence. Supporting this conclusion is the fact that the South enacted extremely low tariffs throughout the war, whereas the north enacted the Morrill Tariff of 1861, which enacted tariffs as high as 50 percent on some goods. Adams also chronicles the oft-overlooked excesses of the Lincoln Administration, and compares them to the actions of Julius Caesar. Using the letters and reports of the times, he tells how Lincoln suspended habeas corpus, trod roughshod over the Constitution, jailed thousands of U.S. citizens who dared disagree with him and even wrote a warrant for the arrest of the Chief Justice of the United States. Adams also ably uses the viewpoints of British and other Europeans to describe different contemporary views on the struggle. These provide excellent outside insight. On the whole, readers will find the book a superb and scholarly analysis, providing fresh insights into the motivations and causes of the defining war in American history. AWARDED 5 STARS by americancivilwarhistory.org

 

Recommended Reading: What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848 (Oxford History of the United States) (Hardcover) (928 pages). Review: The newest volume in the renowned Oxford History of the United States-- A brilliant portrait of an era that saw dramatic transformations in American life The Oxford History of the United States is by far the most respected multi-volume history of our nation. The series includes two Pulitzer Prize winners, two New York Times bestsellers, and winners of the Bancroft and Parkman Prizes. Now, in What Hath God Wrought, historian Daniel Walker Howe illuminates the period from the battle of New Orleans to the end of the Mexican-American War, an era when the United States expanded to the Pacific and won control over the richest part of the North American continent. Continued below...

Howe's panoramic narrative portrays revolutionary improvements in transportation and communications that accelerated the extension of the American empire. Railroads, canals, newspapers, and the telegraph dramatically lowered travel times and spurred the spread of information. These innovations prompted the emergence of mass political parties and stimulated America's economic development from an overwhelmingly rural country to a diversified economy in which commerce and industry took their place alongside agriculture. In his story, the author weaves together political and military events with social, economic, and cultural history. He examines the rise of Andrew Jackson and his Democratic party, but contends that John Quincy Adams and other Whigs--advocates of public education and economic integration, defenders of the rights of Indians, women, and African-Americans--were the true prophets of America's future. He reveals the power of religion to shape many aspects of American life during this period, including slavery and antislavery, women's rights and other reform movements, politics, education, and literature. Howe's story of American expansion -- Manifest Destiny -- culminates in the bitterly controversial but brilliantly executed war waged against Mexico to gain California and Texas for the United States. By 1848, America had been transformed. What Hath God Wrought provides a monumental narrative of this formative period in United States history.

 

Recommended Reading: The South Was Right! (Hardcover). Description: Kin Hubbard said "'Tain't what a man don't know that hurts him; it's what he does know that just ain't so." Much of what people "know" about the causes, conduct, and consequences of the Civil War "just ain't so." The Kennedy brothers make a strong case that the real reasons and results of the War Between the States have been buried under the myth of Father Abraham and his blue-clad saints marching south to save the Union and free the slaves. Sure, the tone is polemical. But the "enlightened" elements of American opinion have been engaging in a polemic against the South and its people for decades… Continued below...

This book adopts the "following the money approach" to analyzing who profited most from slavery – a convincing argument that reflects that much of the wealth went to the North. It also points out that slavery was not new to Africa, and was practiced by Africans against Africans without foreign intervention. A strong case is made that the North and Lincoln held strong racist views. Lincoln proposed shipping, or transporting, blacks back to Africa  The blacks residing in the Northern states were in a precarious predicament (e.g. draft riots and lynchings in NY City). The authors, however, do not make any argument supporting slavery - their consistent line is the practice is vile. The fact that many blacks served, assisted and provided material support to Union and Confederate Armies is beyond refute. Native Americans also served with distinction on both sides during the Civil War. “A controversial and thought-provoking book that challenges the status-quo of present teachings…”

 

Recommended Reading: CAUSES OF THE CIVIL WAR: The Political, Cultural, Economic and Territorial Disputes Between the North and South. Description: While South Carolina's preemptive strike on Fort Sumter and Lincoln's subsequent call to arms started the Civil War, South Carolina's secession and Lincoln's military actions were simply the last in a chain of events stretching as far back as 1619. Increasing moral conflicts and political debates over slavery-exacerbated by the inequities inherent between an established agricultural society and a growing industrial one-led to a fierce sectionalism which manifested itself through cultural, economic, political and territorial disputes. Continued below...

This historical study reduces sectionalism to its most fundamental form, examining the underlying source of this antagonistic climate. From protective tariffs to the expansionist agenda, it illustrates the ways in which the foremost issues of the time influenced relations between the North and the South.
 

Recommended Reading: The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War. Description: It hardly seems possible that there is more to say about someone who has been subjected to such minute scrutiny in thousands of books and articles. Yet, Thomas J. DiLorenzo’s The Real Lincoln manages to raise fresh and morally probing questions, challenging the image of the martyred 16th president that has been fashioned carefully in marble and bronze, sentimentalism and myth. Continued below...

In doing so, DiLorenzo does not follow the lead of M. E. Bradford or other Southern agrarians. He writes primarily not as a defender of the Old South and its institutions, culture, and traditions, but as a libertarian enemy of the Leviathan state. DiLorenzo holds Lincoln and his war responsible for the triumph of "big government" and the birth of the ubiquitous, suffocating modern U.S. state. He seeks to replace the nation’s memory of Lincoln as the “Great Emancipator” with the record of Lincoln as the “Great Centralizer.”

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Sources: Ellis, Richard E. The Union at Risk: Jacksonian Democracy, States' Rights, and the Nullification Crisis. New York: Oxford University Press, 1987; Freehling, William W. Prelude to Civil War: The Nullification Controversy in South Carolina, 1816-1836. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992; Peterson, Merrill D. Olive Branch and Sword: The Compromise of 1833. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1982.

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