John C. Calhoun - Wikipedia
Administration supporters were outraged to learn that the Foreign Relations .. The two were never close, and Calhoun never completely trusted Jackson. In fact . Compounding this difficulty was Eaton's marriage on New Year's Day to In retrospect, it is clear that Jackson exaggerated Calhoun's responsibility. lending his support to Jackson's political goals, earned Jackson's trust and affection. Henry Clay was viewed by Jackson as politically untrustworthy, an opportunistic, ambitious and self-aggrandizing man. He believed that Clay would compromise.
A boom in American manufacturing during the prolonged cessation of trade with Britain created an entirely new class of enterprisers, most of them tied politically to the Republicans, who might not survive without tariff protection.
More broadly, the war reinforced feelings of national identity and connection. However in the nation suffered its first financial panic and the s 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 led to renewed attacks on the "numerous market-oriented enterprises, particularly banks, corporations, creditors, and absentee landholders".
Calhoun and fellow South Carolinian William Lowndes. The bill barely passed the federal House of Representatives by a vote of to 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.
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. 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 Adamsso the bill levied heavy taxes on raw materials consumed by New England such as hemp, flax, molasses, iron and sail duck. 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 However many Southerners became dissatisfied as Jackson, in his first two annual messages to Congress, failed to launch a strong attack on the tariff.
The most doctrinaire ideologues of the Old Republican group [supporters of the Jefferson and Madison position in the late s] first found Jackson wanting. These purists identified the tariff ofthe hated Tariff of Abominations, as the most heinous manifestation of the nationalist policy they abhorred.
That protective tariff violated their constitutional theory, for, as they interpreted the document, it gave no permission for a protective tariff. Moreover, they saw protection as benefiting the North and hurting the South.
Calhoun South Carolina had been adversely affected by the national economic decline of the s. During this decade, the population decreased by 56, whites and 30, slaves, out of a total free and slave population ofThe whites left for better places; they took slaves with them or sold them to traders moving slaves to the Deep South for sale.
Ellis describes the situation: Throughout the colonial and early national periods, South Carolina had sustained substantial economic growth and prosperity. This had created an extremely wealthy and extravagant low country aristocracy whose fortunes were based first on the cultivation of rice and indigo, and then on cotton.
Then the state was devastated by the Panic of The depression that followed was more severe than in almost any other state of the Union. Moreover, competition from the newer cotton producing areas along the Gulf Coastblessed with fertile lands that produced a higher crop-yield per acre, made recovery painfully slow.John C. Calhoun
To make matters worse, in large areas of South Carolina slaves vastly outnumbered whites, and there existed both considerable fear of slave rebellion and a growing sensitivity to even the smallest criticism of "the peculiar institution. Soil erosion and competition from the New Southwest were also very significant reasons for the state's declining fortunes. 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.
The Nullification Movement that split the Nation started here in Governor Robert Hayne, General James Hamilton and other leaders drafted the Nullification Papers in the 2nd floor drawing room South Carolina's first effort at nullification occurred in Its planters believed that free black sailors had assisted Denmark Vesey in his planned slave rebellion. South Carolina passed a Negro Seamen Actwhich required that all black foreign seamen be imprisoned while their ships were docked in Charleston.
The UK strongly objected, especially as it was recruiting more Africans as sailors. What was worse, if the captains did not pay the fees to cover the cost of jailing, South Carolina would sell the sailors into slavery. Other southern states also passed laws against free black sailors. 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 state's leaders were not united and the sides were roughly equal. The western part of the state and a faction in Charleston, led by Joel Poinsettwould remain loyal to the Union.
Only in small part was the conflict between "a National North against a States'-right South". They were rebuffed in their efforts to coordinate a united Southern response and focused on how their state representatives 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.
Prestonon 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,word draft of what would become his " Exposition and Protest ". He argued that the tariff of was unconstitutional because it favored manufacturing over commerce and agriculture.
He thought that the tariff power 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 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: If it be conceded, as it must be by every one who is the least conversant with our institutions, that the sovereign powers delegated are divided between the General and State Governments, and that the latter hold their portion by the same tenure as the former, it would seem impossible to deny to the States the right of deciding on the infractions of their powers, and the proper remedy to be applied for their correction.
The right of judging, in such cases, is an essential attribute of sovereignty, of which the States cannot be divested without losing their sovereignty itself, and being reduced to a subordinate corporate condition. In fact, to divide power, and to give to one of the parties the exclusive right of judging of the portion allotted to each, is, in reality, not to divide it at all; and to reserve such exclusive right to the General Government it matters not by what department to be exercisedis to convert it, in fact, into a great consolidated government, with unlimited powers, and to divest the States, in reality, of all their rights, It is impossible to understand the force of terms, and to deny so plain a conclusion.
All through that hot and humid summer, emotions among the vociferous planter population had been worked up to a near-frenzy of excitement. The whole tenor of the argument built up in the "Exposition" was aimed to present the case in a cool, considered manner that would dampen any drastic moves yet would set in motion the machinery for repeal of the tariff act.
It would also warn other sections of the Union against any future legislation that an increasingly self-conscious South might consider punitive, especially on the subject of slavery. 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. 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: But if you are doubtful of yourselves — if you are not prepared to follow up your principles wherever they may lead, to their very last consequence — if you love life better than honor, -- prefer ease to perilous liberty and glory; awake not! Live in smiling peace with your insatiable Oppressors, and die with the noble consolation that your submissive patience will survive triumphant your beggary and despair.
Jefferson's "rightful remedy" of nullification. Hamilton sent a copy of the speech directly to President-elect Jackson. But, despite a statewide campaign by Hamilton and McDuffie, a proposal to call a nullification convention in was defeated by the South Carolina legislature meeting at the end of State leaders such as Calhoun, Hayne, Smith, and William Drayton were all able to remain publicly non-committal or opposed to nullification for the next couple of years.
After Congress tabled the measure, the debate in South Carolina resumed between those who wanted state investment and those who wanted to work to get Congress' support. The debate demonstrated that a significant minority of the state did have an interest in Clay's American System.
The effect of the Webster—Hayne debate was to energize the radicals, and some moderates started to move in their direction. On the defensive, radicals underplayed the intent of the convention as pro-nullification.
When voters were presented with races where an unpledged convention was the issue, the radicals generally won. When conservatives effectively characterized 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.
Pinckney as speaker of the South Carolina House. State politics became sharply divided along Nullifier and Unionist lines. Still, the margin in the legislature fell short of the two-thirds majority needed for a convention.
- Nullification Crisis
- John C. Calhoun, 7th Vice President (1825-1832)
- Andrew Jackson - The eaton affair
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 concluded that Martin Van Buren was clearly establishing himself as Jackson's heir apparent. At Hamilton's prompting, George McDuffie 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. With silence no longer an acceptable alternative, Calhoun looked for the opportunity to take control of the anti-tariff faction in the state; by June he was preparing what would be known as his Fort Hill Address.
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.
U.S. Senate: John C. Calhoun, 7th Vice President ()
Within South Carolina, his gestures at moderation in the speech were drowned out as planters 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.
I consider the tariff act as the occasion, rather than the real cause of the present unhappy state of things. The truth can no longer be disguised, that the [[Peculiar institution peculiar domestick [ sic ] institution]] of the Southern States and the consequent direction which that and her soil have given to her industry, has placed them in regard to taxation and appropriations in opposite relation to the majority of the Union, against the danger of which, if there be no protective power in the reserved rights of the states they must in the end be forced to rebel, or, submit to have their paramount interests sacrificed, their domestic institutions subordinated by Colonization and other schemes, and themselves and children reduced to wretchedness.
Unlike state political organizations in the past, which were led by the South Carolina planter aristocracy, this group appealed to 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.
In the winter of and spring ofthe governor 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 nullifiers won and on October 20,Governor Hamilton called the legislature into a special session to consider a convention. The legislative vote was in the House and in the Senate  In November the Nullification Convention met.
The convention declared that the tariffs of and were unconstitutional and unenforceable within the state of South Carolina after February 1, They said that attempts to use force to collect the taxes would lead to the state's secession. Robert Haynewho followed Hamilton as governor inestablished a 2,man group of mounted minutemen and 25, infantry who would march to Charleston in the event of a military conflict.
To avoid conflicts with Unionists, it allowed importers to pay the tariff if they so desired. Other merchants could 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 of replevin 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, binding them to support the ordinance of nullification. If the sacred soil of Carolina should be polluted by the footsteps of an invader, or be stained with the blood of her citizens, shed in defense, I trust in Almighty God that no son of hers While he may have abandoned some of his earlier beliefs that had allowed him to vote for the Tariff ofhe 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 Decemberwith 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. Calhoun's "Exposition and Protest" did start a national debate over the doctrine of nullification.
John C. Calhoun and “State’s Rights”
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. 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, letter to Edward Everettintended for publication, disagreed.
Madison wrote, denying that any individual state could alter the compact: That the 7 might, in particular instances be right and the 17 wrong, is more than possible. Healy 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 earlythus beginning "the most celebrated debate, in the Senate's history. 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. However once the debate shifted to secession and nullification, Jackson sided with Webster. On April 13, at the traditional Democratic Party celebration honoring Thomas Jefferson's birthday, Jackson chose to make his position clear. The transaction was not illegal, for war department officials enjoyed considerable latitude in awarding government contracts, and the primary contractor had submitted the lowest bid, but the appearance of impropriety gave Crawford additional ammunition.
Congress began an exhaustive review of the war department, with the "Radicals" taking the lead. Although the investigation found no evidence of malfeasance on Calhoun's part, Republicans were inherently suspicious of standing armies, and even the National Republicans were reluctant to fund a peacetime army on the scale envisioned by Calhoun.
Congress ultimately reduced the war department budget by close to 50 percent. The Presidential Election Calhoun declared himself a candidate for the presidency in Decembermuch to the surprise of Secretary of State John Quincy Adams, widely considered to be Monroe's heir apparent by virtue of his office.
Calhoun and Adams were friends; both avid nationalists, they had also been political allies until the Missouri crisis in exposed their profound disagreement over slavery. Calhoun, however, became convinced that Adams was too weak a candidate to defeat Crawford, who enjoyed a significant following within the congressional nominating caucus. The South Carolinian, determined to prevent Crawford's election at any cost, therefore decided to become a candidate himself.
Calhoun believed that he was the only candidate who could command a national following; he had been warmly received during a visit to the northern and middle states inand his efforts to strengthen the nation's defenses had won him a following in the West, as well. His quest, however, lost momentum after the South Carolina legislature voted to endorse another favorite son, William Lowndes. Not only did Calhoun face formidable opposition from Crawford's supporters, now ably led by New York Senator Martin Van Burenbut, to the amazement of many, Jackson soon emerged as a leading contender.
Calhoun's Pennsylvania supporters eventually declared for Jackson, endorsing Calhoun as their vice-presidential candidate. As other states followed suit, the ambitious young secretary of war was, in one scholar's words, "everybody's 'second choice.
None of the presidential candidates, however, achieved an electoral majority—although Jackson received a plurality. The election was therefore thrown into the House of Representatives, where each state delegation had a single vote. Having come in fourth in the general election, Clay was not a contender in the House balloting, but he played a pivotal part in determining the outcome by persuading the delegations of the three states he had carried Ohio, Kentucky and Missouri to vote for Adams.
These three western states, as well as New York, after heavy lobbying by Clay and Massachusetts Representative Daniel Webster, gave Adams the margin he needed to defeat Jackson.
Clay's maneuvering and his subsequent appointment as Adams' secretary of state deeply offended Calhoun, nudging him toward the Jackson camp. He "would probably have coalesced with the Jacksonians in any event," one scholar of the period has surmised, since South Carolina and Pennsylvania, the two states crucial to Calhoun's abortive presidential strategy, had gone for Jackson.
But politics alone could not fully account for Calhoun's shift. He knew that the Kentucky legislature had expressly instructed its delegation to vote for Jackson, who had run second to Clay in the general election.
Yet, at Clay's urging, the Kentuckians had cast their state's vote for Adams, who had received few, if any, popular votes in the state. Clay has made the Prest [President] against the voice of his constituents," Calhoun confided to a friend, "and has been rewarded by the man elevated by him by the first office in his gift, the most dangerous stab, which the liberty of this country has ever received.
But even this rigorous course of study could not adequately prepare him for the challenges he would face. The Senate, experiencing "growing pains" as it completed its transformation from the "chamber of revision" envisioned by the Constitution's framers to a full-fledged legislative body in its own right, was beginning to reconsider rules and procedures that seemed outdated or impractical.
As the Senate's debates became increasingly contentious, the body began rethinking the role of its presiding officer, as well. Calhoun's difficulties began shortly after the Nineteenth Congress convened in Decemberwhen he announced appointments to the Senate's standing committees.
Prior tothe Senate had elected committee members by ballot, an awkward and time-consuming process. The rule was revised during the Eighteenth Congress to provide that "all committees shall be appointed by the presiding officer of this House, unless specially ordered otherwise by the Senate. On that occasion, Vice President Daniel Tompkins was absent, a frequent occurrence during his troubled tenure, and President pro tempore John Gaillard of South Carolina had appointed the chairmen and members of the Senate's standing committees.
As one scholar of the period has noted, Calhoun made "an honest effort to divide control of the committees between friends and enemies of the administration. He reappointed nine of the fifteen standing committee chairmen whom Gaillard had chosen two years earlier.
The two chairmen who had left the Senate he replaced with individuals who had previously served on their respective committees. Of the four remaining committees, three were chaired by senators friendly to the administration. As a result of Calhoun's appointments, senators hostile to the administration retained or gained control of several important committees: Administration supporters were outraged to learn that the Foreign Relations Committee included only one Adams-Clay man and that its new chairman was Nathaniel Macon of North Carolina, who had voted against confirming Clay as secretary of state.
Bitter divisions between administration supporters and the opposition forces were beginning to infect the Senate, and Calhoun, in his attempt to please everyone, had satisfied no one. The pro-administration Philadelphia Democratic Press and several other papers vehemently criticized Calhoun, publishing unfounded allegations that he had made the offending appointments after Adams ignored Calhoun's demand to dissociate himself from Henry Clay.
In the meantime, Senator Van Buren had enlisted Calhoun's support for a concerted challenge to the expansive agenda that President Adams outlined in his December 6,annual message to Congress. Adams had proposed a national university, a national observatory, and a network of internal improvements unprecedented in the nation's history, as well as foreign policy initiatives.
In particular, Calhoun, not yet the strict constructionist he would later become, was concerned that Adams' plan to send observers to a conference of South and Central American ministers scheduled to meet in Panama the following year would reinvigorate the sectional tensions that had emerged during the Missouri crisis. Calhoun saw United States participation in the Panama Congress as a perilous first step toward extending diplomatic recognition to Haiti, a nation of former slaves.
He had cautioned Adams, through an intermediary, that the initiative would "in the present tone of feelings in the south lead to great mischief. The president sent the names of prospective delegates to Panama to the Senate for approval in late Decembertouching off a protracted and contentious debate that continued through March 14,when the Senate approved the mission by a narrow margin.
Missouri Senator Thomas Hart Benton later reflected that "no question, in its day, excited more heat and intemperate discussion, or more feeling between a President and Senate, than this proposed mission. The United States delegation arrived too late to have any impact on the deliberations, and all but one of the Latin American republics failed to ratify the accords approved at the convention. The president had wasted a great deal of political capital in a confrontation that hardened the party divisions in the Senate, and Calhoun and Van Buren had taken the first tentative steps toward an alliance that would drive Adams from office in the next election.
Calhoun also endorsed the opposition's efforts to curtail the powers of the executive, through constitutional amendments to abolish the electoral college and to limit the president to two terms. Although the Senate had considered similar amendments in previous sessions, the move acquired a new urgency after the election.
Thomas Hart Benton renewed the initiative on December 15,with a resolution to appoint a select committee "to inquire into the expediency" of choosing the president and vice president "by a direct vote of the People, in districts. Calhoun appointed Benton chairman of the select committee, which the Senate directed to determine "the best, most preferable, and safest mode in regard to such elections. Calhoun had appointed the administration's most vocal critics to the committee, which reported to the Senate on January 19,a constitutional amendment calling for the direct election of the president and vice president.
Calhoun confided to a correspondent that he expected the administration to resist "all attempts that can limit or counteract the effects of patronage. They will in particular resist any amendment of the Constitution," he predicted, "which will place the Presl [Presidential] election in the hands of the voters, where patronage can have little, or no effect.
Stubbornly clinging to the customs, attire, and rhetoric of a bygone era, he regarded any departure from the dicta of the Founding Fathers as tantamount to heresy. Calhoun thought him "highly talented, eloquent, severe and eccentric," while others, alternately amused and offended by his rambling and caustic speeches, his eighteenth-century dress and manners, and his bizarre behavior, dismissed him as thoroughly insane.
His March 30 address was vintage Randolph: Even Randolph's likening of Adams and Clay to "Bliful and Black George," two unsavory characters from the popular novel, Tom Jones, brought no rebuke from the chair. After Randolph ended his harangue, the Senate turned to the select committee report. Randolph, trumpeting his opposition "to all amendments to the Constitution," moved to table the report.
New Jersey Senator Mahlon Dickersonwho had spoken at great length the previous day in support of his own proposal to limit the president to two terms in office, prepared to speak in opposition to Randolph's motion.
He had just started to explain his position when Calhoun cut him short, ruling him out of order on the grounds that "the motion now pending. When Dickerson attempted to respond to Randolph's remarks, Calhoun ruled him out of order a second time.
Randolph finally agreed to Dickerson's request to postpone the discussion until the next day, bringing the awkward exchange to an end. On April 3,the Senate approved the select committee's amendment providing for the direct election of the president and vice president. Fallout from the explosive session of March 30,would haunt Calhoun for the remainder of his term. Deeply offended at Randolph's charges, Clay demanded a duel with the Virginian.
The resulting nerve-wracking but bloodless encounter ended with a handshake after two exchanges of fire. Those who had expressed amusement at Randolph's March 30 performance, or agreed with him in principle, were suddenly sobered at the thought that the vice president's failure to restrain an intemperate senator had resulted in a near-tragedy.
Calhoun's enemies criticized him for twice calling the sedate and congenial Dickerson to order while permitting Randolph to vent his spleen at will. In the following weeks the Senate, for the first time in its history, attempted to define the vice president's legislative duties and responsibilities. In the decade prior tothe Senate had paid increasing attention to organizational matters, a clear indication of its increased workload, enlarged membership, and heightened importance as a national forum.
It had established standing committees inrevised its rules inand required the publication of regular financial reports by the secretary of the Senate after The body also enhanced the powers of the chair. Not only had it authorized the presiding officer in to appoint members of standing and select committees, but in it also directed the presiding officer to "examine and correct the Journals, before they are read," and to "have the regulation of such parts of the Capitol.
After the March 30,spectacle, however, any discussion of Senate rules inevitably invited comment on the vice president's legislative duties and on Calhoun's conduct as president of the Senate. On April 13,John Randolph offered a motion to rescind "so much of the new rules of this House, which give to the presiding officer of this body the appointment of its committees, and the control over the Journal of its proceedings. Tompkins served as vice president. Randolph's cryptic remarks on April 12, when he notified the Senate that he would propose the rules changes on the following day, also hint that the Senate had given the presiding officer the responsibility of supervising the Journal because the secretary of the Senate had been negligent in performing this important task.
The reporter who followed the April 15 debate was careful to note that "the gentlemen who favored the present motion, as well as the one who offered it, disclaimed the remotest intention to impute to the Vice President an improper exercise of the duties devolved on him by the rules. At the conclusion of the debate, the Senate voted, by overwhelming margins, to resume its former practice of selecting committee members by ballot, and "to take from the President of the Senate, the control over the Journal of the Proceedings.
On the other hand, the caveats of Van Buren and opposition senators suggest that, although some senators may well have intended to curtail Calhoun's authority, others were animated by concern for maintaining the Senate's institutional prerogatives.
Calhoun, edging toward the strict constructionist stance he would champion in later years, seems to have approved of the changes, or at least to have accepted them with his customary grace. He had diligently studied the Senate's rules, he informed the senators, and had concluded that, although the chair could issue rulings on procedural matters, "the right to call to order, on questions touching the latitude or freedom of debate, belongs exclusively to the members of this body, and not to the Chair.
The power of the presiding officer. A select committee chaired by Randolph that had been appointed "to take into consideration the present arrangement of the Senate chamber," reported a resolution that would make access to the Senate floor by anyone other than past and current members of Congress and certain members of the executive and judicial branches contingent upon written authorization by the vice president.
The resolution also specified that the officers of the Senate would be responsible to the vice president and that all, except for the secretary of the Senate, would be subject to immediate removal "for any neglect of duty. As this first session of the Nineteenth Congress neared its end, Senator John Holmes submitted a resolution, for consideration in the next session, to appoint a committee that would consider rules to clarify and enhance the powers of the chair.
Randolph moved to take up the Holmes resolution immediately, but Calhoun ruled him out of order on the grounds that "when a member offered a resolution, if he did not desire its consideration, it would lie one day on the table.
He then proceeded to castigate a Massachusetts editor for his alleged misconduct in the chamber. The debate degenerated into a shouting match after Massachusetts Senator James Lloyd rose to defend his constituent, but Calhoun remained impassive until Alabama Senator William R. King intervened with a call to order. Rigidly adhering to the Senate's rule governing the conduct of debate, Calhoun instructed King "to reduce the exceptionable words to writing.
On April 24, the National Intelligencer had published a letter from Senator Dickerson, who maintained that Calhoun had treated him with appropriate courtesy and respect during the March 30 debate, as well as a submission from an anonymous "Western Senator" defending the vice president.
On May 1, the pro-administration National Journal published the first in a series of five articles by "Patrick Henry," an anonymous writer friendly to the administration, charging that Calhoun had abused his office. These essays, which continued through August 8, cited an impressive array of parliamentary scholarship to support the author's contention that Calhoun had been negligent in permitting the "irrelative rhapsodies of a once powerful mind" to disturb the Senate "without one effort of authority, or one hint of disapprobation from its president.
But no sooner were you sent to preside over it, than its hall became, as if by some magic agency, transformed into an arena where political disappointment rioted in its madness.
Modern scholars have never conclusively established the identity of "Patrick Henry," although Calhoun and many others believed him to be President Adams.
The vice president responded in his own series of essays, published in the National Intelligencer between May 20 and October 12,under the pseudonym "Onslow," in honor of a distinguished eighteenth-century Speaker of the British House of Commons. Echoing Calhoun's pronouncements in the Senate, the writer's opening salvo offered a forceful defense of the vice president's refusal to restrain "the latitude or freedom of debate.
These arguments, the modern-era editors of Calhoun's papers have stressed, reveal "the ground principles of all Calhoun's later thinking," and mark "the 'turning point' in Calhoun's career from nationalist and latitudinarian to sectionalist and strict constructionist. After this revision was adopted, Calhoun stubbornly remarked that "it was not for him" to comment on the change, assuring the Senate "that he should always endeavor to exercise it with strict impartiality.
Calhoun, with his disciplined intellect and rigid sense of propriety, presented a striking contrast to the popular and dashing military hero. The two were never close, and Calhoun never completely trusted Jackson.
Andrew Jackson Takes on the Bank of the US
In fact, several years earlier, while serving in Monroe's cabinet, the South Carolinian had urged the president to discipline Jackson for his unauthorized invasion of Spanish Florida during the Seminole War. But Calhoun needed time to recoup his political fortunes, and Jackson had vowed to serve but a single term if elected president. The old hero welcomed Calhoun's support, assuring him that they would "march hand in hand in their [the people's] cause," cementing one of the most ill-starred partnerships in the history of the vice-presidency.
When Calhoun returned to the Senate for the second session of the Nineteenth Congress in early December, he was relieved to find that he was not "the object of the malignant attack of those in power.
On the following day, Calhoun notified Secretary of the Senate Walter Lowrie that he had asked the House of Representatives to investigate the charges and would not preside over the Senate until the matter was resolved. On January 2,the Senate chose Nathaniel Macon of North Carolina to preside over its deliberations while a House select committee pursued the allegations.
Henry Clay, who still commanded enormous influence in the House of Representatives, played a silent role in the appointment of the House select committee, which was heavily weighted against Calhoun. Even though the committee cleared Calhoun after six weeks of hearings, press accounts of the investigation, combined with the muddled language that Clay had persuaded his allies to insert in the select committee's February 13,report, contributed to the widespread perception that the vice president had done something wrong while serving as secretary of war.
Some Jacksonians would have gladly withdrawn their support for Calhoun's vice-presidential bid at that point. But Jackson's chief strategist, Martin Van Buren, insisted that Calhoun was essential to his strategy of forging a coalition of "planters of the South and the plain Republicans of the North" to drive Adams from the White House. The vice president, for his part, was increasingly disturbed at the concessions that Van Buren seemed willing to make to secure Jackson's election, particularly with respect to the tariff.
This so-called "Tariff of Abominations" included no concessions to southern agricultural interests, as had previous tariffs, and imposed severe hardships on the region.
Still, Calhoun convinced the South Carolina delegation to hold its fire, fearing that the backlash might cost Jackson the election and hoping that Jackson would, if elected, reform the tariff schedules. Jackson and Calhoun won 56 percent of the popular vote in —sweeping victory widely acclaimed as a triumph for "the common man.
The presidential campaign was one of the most bitterly contested in the nation's history. Adams' supporters charged Jackson and his wife with immoral conduct the two had married before Rachel's divorce from her first husband and Jacksonians countered by reminding the electorate of the "corrupt bargain. Candidate Calhoun had spent most of the election year at "Fort Hill," his Pendleton, South Carolina estate, supervising farm operations and, at the request of the South Carolina legislature, preparing a critique of the tariff.
His point of departure for the resulting South Carolina "Exposition" was an argument that Jefferson had marshalled three decades earlier in his crusade against the Alien and Sedition Acts: But Calhoun carried the argument several steps farther, asserting that a state could veto, or "nullify," any act by the federal government that encroached on its sovereignty or otherwise violated the Constitution.
The "Exposition" and an accompanying set of "Protest" resolutions were widely circulated by the South Carolina legislature. Calhoun, wary of jeopardizing his national standing, was careful not to claim authorship, but Jackson and Van Buren soon suspected that the vice president had written the controversial tract.
The Senate Debates Nullification Calhoun's second vice-presidential term was even more of an ordeal than his first. His suspicions that Jackson might pose as great a threat to popular liberties as his predecessor were soon confirmed. The president failed to repudiate the tariff—clear evidence that he had fallen under Van Buren's spell—and his appointment of the "Little Magician" as secretary of state boded ill for Calhoun. The vice president was soon isolated within an administration where Van Buren and his protectionist allies appeared to be gaining the upper hand.
Calhoun's novel theory came under attack in the Senate early in his second term, during a debate over the disposition of western lands, a lengthy exchange that one historian has termed "the greatest debate in the history of the Senate.
South Carolina Senator Robert Y. Hayne changed the tone of the debate on January 19,when he argued that the federal government should leave land policy to the states and that individual states could nullify federal legislation.
The remainder of the debate, which lasted through January 27, consisted of a spirited exchange between Hayne and Massachusetts Senator Daniel Websterwho summoned all of his formidable oratorical talents in a passionate defense of the Union. But the Webster-Hayne debate was, in fact, a confrontation between Webster and Calhoun.
Hayne received a steady stream of handwritten notes from the chair as he articulated Calhoun's doctrines for several hours on January 21, and Webster clearly directed at the vice president his second reply to Hayne of January His charge that "leading and distinguished gentlemen from South Carolina" had reversed their stand on internal improvements brought an immediate and pointed inquiry from the vice president: I speak generally of the State of South Carolina.
Jackson sympathized with advocates of states' rights, but, as a passionate defender of the Union, he regarded nullification as tantamount to treason. When his friend and adviser, William B. The event was a longstanding tradition among congressional Republicans, but the recent use of Jefferson's writings to justify nullification imbued the celebration with particular significance.
Warned in advance by Van Buren that several "nullifiers" were expected to attend, the president and his advisers carefully scripted his remarks. After the meal, and an interminable series of toasts, Jackson rose to offer his own: It must be preserved.
Next to our liberty, the most dear. In Maythe president finally received incontrovertible proof that Calhoun, as he had long suspected, had urged Monroe's cabinet to censure him for his invasion of Spanish Florida during the Seminole War.
Demanding an explanation from Calhoun, Jackson was stunned when the vice president responded that he could not "recognize the right on your part to call in question my conduct. Calhoun soon found himself completely eclipsed by Van Buren. After a longstanding dispute over official protocol had culminated in the resignation of the entire cabinet in Aprilall of Jackson's new secretaries were Van Buren men.
Calhoun had his wife Floride to thank for this unfortunate development. Calhoun, the unofficial arbiter of Washington society, had thrown the capital into turmoil with her deliberate snub of Secretary of War John Eaton and his wife, Peggy.