P4 | APUSH | Wiley | Sources on Jackson, D___ Name: South Carolina’s Ordinance of Nullification, 1832
Southerners tended to oppose tariffs (part of the American System), while Northerners supported it. Though the Tariff of 1832, signed into law by Jackson, slightly decreased the “Tariff of Abominations” (1828, signed by JQA), it wasn’t decreased quite enough for Southerners. South Carolinians, with support from Jackson’s own vice president, John C. Calhoun, reasserted the principles of state nullification and threatened to secede from the nation if forced to submit to the tariff.
Whereas the Congress of the United States by various acts, purporting to be acts laying duties and imposts on foreign imports, but in reality intended for the protection of domestic manufactures and the giving of bounties to classes and individuals engaged in particular employments, at the expense and to the injury and oppression of other classes and individuals, [it has] exceeded its just powers under the constitution, which confers on it no authority to afford such protection, and bath violated the true meaning and intent of the constitution, which provides for equality in imposing the burdens of taxation upon the several States and portions of the confederacy: And whereas the said Congress, exceeding its just power to impose taxes and collect revenue for the purpose of effecting and accomplishing the specific objects and purposes which the constitution of the United States authorizes it to effect and accomplish, hath raised and collected unnecessary revenue for objects unauthorized by the constitution.
We, therefore, the people of the State of South Carolina, in convention assembled, do declare and ordain . . . that the several acts of the Congress of the United States, purporting to be laws for the imposing of duties and imposts on the importation of foreign commodities, 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, its officers or citizens; and all promises, contracts, and obligations, made or entered into, or to be made or entered into, with purpose to secure the duties imposed by said acts, and all judicial proceedings which shall be hereafter had in affirmance thereof, are and shall be held utterly null and void.
And it is further ordained, that it shall not be lawful for any of the constituted authorities, whether of this State or of the United States, to enforce the payment of duties imposed by the said acts within the limits of this State; but it shall be the duty of the legislature to adopt such measures and pass such acts as may be necessary to give full effect to this ordinance, and to prevent the enforcement and arrest the operation of the said acts and parts of acts of the Congress of the United States within the limits of this State . . . [;] and all persons residing or being within the limits of this State . . . are hereby required and enjoined to obey and give effect to this ordinance, and such acts and measures of the legislature as may be passed or adopted in obedience thereto. . . .
And it is further ordained, that all persons now holding any office of honor, profit, or trust, civil or military, under this State (members of the legislature excepted), shall, within such time, and in such manner as the legislature shall prescribe, take an oath well and truly to obey, execute, and enforce this ordinance . . .
And we, the people of South Carolina . . . do further declare that we will not submit to the application of force on the part of the federal government, to reduce this State to obedience, but that we will consider the passage, by Congress, of any act authorizing the employment of a military or naval force against the State of South Carolina, her constitutional authorities or citizens; or any act abolishing or closing the ports of this State . . . to be null and void, otherwise . . . the people of this State will henceforth hold themselves absolved from all further obligation to maintain or preserve their political connection with the people of the other States; and will forthwith proceed to organize a separate government, and do all other acts and things which sovereign and independent States may of right do.
How did South Carolina justify nullification? Do you sympathize with SC in this situation? Why or why not?
Review the Constitution; its articles and its principles (see Period 3). To what extent does SC’s approach seem in line with the Constitution? To what extent does it seem opposed to the principles set forth in the Constitution?
Where have we seen similar arguments used in the past?