The Sovereign States: Notes of a Citizen of Virginia

By James Jackson Kilpatrick | Go to book overview

11
Calhoun and Nullification

THE GREAT nullification controversy of 1832 goes to the heart and soul of the constitutional doctrines advanced in this essay, and, as a consequence, must be treated at some length. In the interests of an orderly presentation, it is proposed first merely to chronicle what happened in this period, and to touch briefly upon the great personalities who figured in that drama; secondly, it is proposed to argue the essential soundness and constitutionality of nullification, when it is invoked as a last resort against dangerous and deliberate usurpations of authority by the Federal government.

The second act adopted by the First Congress of the United States, in 1789, was a tariff law which imposed duties on "goods, wares and merchandise imported." Significantly, the act recited that its purpose was not alone to raise revenues for the support of government and the discharge of public debts, but also "for the encouragement and protection of manufactures."104 From that day until comparatively recent times,105 students of the Constitution have vigorously debated the authority of Congress to utilize its taxing power beyond the aim of raising revenue. This first tariff law was so mild in its provisions, however, that few serious apprehensions were aroused; it was not until the tariff of 1816, imposing duties averaging about 20 per cent upon the covered imports, that a few cries of alarm began to be heard.106 Again, these protests were not loud--Calhoun himself supported the tariff of 1816 (in an impulsive speech he was to regret all his life), and later was agreeable to accepting it as the basis for a permanent law.107 But with the sharply increased tariff of 1824, which very nearly doubled the average rates of 1816, all the latent fears of free traders were aroused. The higher tariffs imposed a severe

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The Sovereign States: Notes of a Citizen of Virginia
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction ix
  • Part 1 - The Sovereign States 1
  • 3 - The Articles of Confederation 8
  • 4 - "We the People" 10
  • 5 - The States in the Constitution 13
  • 6 - The Prophetic Mr. Henry 18
  • 7 - The States Ratify 28
  • Part 2 - The Right to Interpose 49
  • 3 - Debt Assumption 53
  • 4 - The Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions 58
  • 5 - Mr. Madison's Report of 1799 62
  • Part 3 - The States Fight Back * 99
  • 1 - The Olmstead Case 101
  • 3 - The Embargo Crisis 118
  • 4 - Matters of the Militia 132
  • 6 - The Hartford Convention 136
  • 7 - The Bank of the United States 139
  • 8 - Internal Improvements 144
  • 9 - Kentucky Vs. the Court 158
  • 10 - Georgia Vs. the Court 161
  • 11 - Calhoun and Nullification 174
  • 12 - The Case for Nullification 186
  • 14 - The Obligation of Contracts 199
  • 15 - After the War 216
  • 16- The Reconstruction Cases 222
  • 17 - The Commerce Clause (commenced) 231
  • 18 - Interlude in a Speakeasy 242
  • Part 4 - The States Today 253
  • 1 - The Southern States 255
  • 3 - Some Notes on Police Power 258
  • 4 - The Transcendent Issue 277
  • Notes 309
  • Table of Cases and Index 331
  • Table of Cases 333
  • Index 337
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