John C. To perfect society, it is necessary to develop the faculties, intellectual and moral, with which man is endowed. But the main spring to their development, and, through this, to progress, improvement and civilization, with all their blessings, is the desire of individuals to better their condition. For this purpose, liberty and security are indispensable.
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Early life[ edit ] Coat of Arms of John C. After the death of the elder Patrick in , the family moved to southwestern Virginia. He was known as an Indian fighter and an ambitious surveyor, farmer, planter and politician, being a member of the South Carolina Legislature. As a Presbyterian, he stood opposed to the Anglican elite based in Charleston.
He continued his studies privately. When his father died, his brothers were away starting business careers, and so the year-old Calhoun took over management of the family farm and five other farms. For four years he simultaneously kept up his reading and his hunting and fishing. The family decided he should continue his education, and so he resumed studies at the Academy after it reopened. For the first time in his life, Calhoun encountered serious, advanced, well-organized intellectual dialogue that could shape his mind.
Yale was dominated by President Timothy Dwight , a Federalist who became his mentor. No one, he thought, could explicate the language of John Locke with such clarity. He graduated as valedictorian in He was admitted to the South Carolina bar in Dwight, Reeve, and Gould could not convince the young patriot from South Carolina as to the desirability of secession, but they left no doubts in his mind as to its legality.
Colhoun , a leader of Charleston high society. Three of them, Floride Pure, Jane, and Elizabeth, died in infancy. He was raised Calvinist but was attracted to Southern varieties of Unitarianism of the sort that attracted Jefferson. Southern Unitarianism was generally less organized than the variety popular in New England.
He was generally not outspoken about his religious beliefs. After his marriage, Calhoun and his wife attended the Episcopal Church, of which she was a member. Brushing aside the vehement objections of both anti-war New Englanders and arch-conservative Jeffersonians led by John Randolph of Roanoke , they demanded war against Britain to preserve American honor and republican values, which had been violated by the British refusal to recognize American shipping rights. The opening phase involved multiple disasters for American arms, as well as a financial crisis when the Treasury could barely pay the bills.
The conflict caused economic hardship for the Americans, as the Royal Navy blockaded the ports and cut off imports, exports and the coastal trade. Several attempted invasions of Canada were fiascos, but the U.
These Indians had, in many cases, cooperated with the British or Spanish in opposing American interests. One colleague hailed him as "the young Hercules who carried the war on his shoulders. It called for a return to the borders of with no gains or losses. Before the treaty reached the Senate for ratification, and even before news of its signing reached New Orleans, a massive British invasion force was utterly defeated in January at the Battle of New Orleans , making a national hero of General Andrew Jackson.
Americans celebrated what they called a "second war of independence" against Britain. This led to the beginning of the " Era of Good Feelings ", an era marked by the formal demise of the Federalist Party and increased nationalism.
In he called for building an effective navy, including steam frigates, as well as a standing army of adequate size. The British blockade of the coast had underscored the necessity of rapid means of internal transportation; Calhoun proposed a system of "great permanent roads". The blockade had cut off the import of manufactured items, so he emphasized the need to encourage more domestic manufacture, fully realizing that industry was based in the Northeast.
The dependence of the old financial system on import duties was devastated when the blockade cut off imports. Calhoun called for a system of internal taxation that would not collapse from a war-time shrinkage of maritime trade, as the tariffs had done.
The expiration of the charter of the First Bank of the United States had also distressed the Treasury, so to reinvigorate and modernize the economy Calhoun called for a new national bank.
Through his proposals, Calhoun emphasized a national footing and downplayed sectionalism and states rights. Historian Ulrich B. His gestures are easy and graceful, his manner forcible, and language elegant; but above all, he confines himself closely to the subject, which he always understands, and enlightens everyone within hearing. A later critic noted the sharp contrast between his hesitant conversations and his fluent speaking styles, adding that Calhoun "had so carefully cultivated his naturally poor voice as to make his utterance clear, full, and distinct in speaking and while not at all musical it yet fell pleasantly on the ear".
He was often seen as harsh and aggressive with other representatives. No man was more stately, more reserved. He is above all sectional and factious prejudices more than any other statesman of this Union with whom I have ever acted. Calhoun took office on December 8 and served until He proposed an elaborate program of national reforms to the infrastructure that he believed would speed economic modernization. His first priority was an effective navy, including steam frigates, and in the second place a standing army of adequate size—and as further preparation for emergency, "great permanent roads", "a certain encouragement" to manufactures, and a system of internal taxation that would not collapse from a war-time shrinkage of maritime trade, like customs duties.
Thomas McKenney was appointed as the first head of the bureau. He promoted a plan, adopted by Monroe in , to preserve the sovereignty of eastern Indians by relocating them to western reservations they could control without interference from state governments. No official instructions not to invade Florida or attack the Spanish were ever issued by the administration.
Calhoun accused the British of being involved in "wickedness, corruption, and barbarity at which the heart sickens and which in this enlightened age it ought not scarcely to be believed that a christian nation would have participated.
In response, Representative James Tallmadge Jr. This amendments touched off an intense debate between North and South that had some talking openly of disunion. Great Britain. According to Adams, "He said, yes, pretty much, but it would be forced upon them. The general lack of military action following the war meant that a large army, such as that preferred by Calhoun, was no longer considered necessary.
Calhoun, though concerned, offered little protest. Later, to provide the army with a more organized command structure, which had been severely lacking during the War of , he appointed Major General Jacob Brown to a position that would later become known as " Commanding General of the United States Army ".
Other states soon followed, and Calhoun therefore allowed himself to become a candidate for vice president rather than president. He won of electoral votes, while five other men received the remaining votes. Calhoun also expressed some concerns, which caused friction between him and Adams. The two were never particularly close friends. The only other man who accomplished this feat was George Clinton , who served as Vice President from to under Thomas Jefferson and James Madison.
Hamilton spoke about this prospect with Governor John Forsyth of Georgia, who acted as a mediator between the Jackson campaign and Crawford. Forsyth wrote a letter back to Hamilton in which he claimed that Crawford had stated to him that it was Calhoun, not Crawford, who had supported censuring Jackson for his invasion of Florida.
Knowing that the letter could destroy the partnership between Jackson and Calhoun, Hamilton and fellow-Jackson aide William B. They alleged that John and Peggy Eaton had engaged in an adulterous affair while she was still legally married to her first husband, and that her recent behavior was unladylike.
The allegations of scandal created an intolerable situation for Jackson. The Petticoat affair ended friendly relations between Calhoun and Jackson. He and his late wife Rachel Donelson had undergone similar political attacks stemming from their marriage in Once the divorce was finalized, they married legally in , but the episode caused a major controversy, and was used against him in the campaign.
The Calhouns were widely regarded as the chief instigators. Latner and Robert V. Remini , believe that the hostility towards the Eatons was rooted less in questions of proper behavior than in politics. Eaton had been in favor of the Tariff of Abominations. He was also politically close to Van Buren. Calhoun may have wanted to expel Eaton from the cabinet as a way of boosting his anti-tariff agenda and increasing his standing in the Democratic Party.
Many cabinet members were Southern and could be expected to sympathize with such concerns, especially Treasury Secretary Samuel D. Ingham , who was allied with Calhoun and believed that he, not Van Buren, should succeed Jackson as president. These infuriated Jackson. Jackson received the letter on May 12, which confirmed his suspicions.
He claimed that Calhoun had "betrayed" him. For reasons unclear, Calhoun asked Eaton to approach Jackson about the possibility of Calhoun publishing his correspondence with Jackson at the time of the Seminole War. Eaton did nothing, leading Calhoun to believe that Jackson had approved the publication of the letters. Van Buren thereby grew in favor with Jackson, while the rift between the President and Calhoun was widened.
Constitution and Nullification Crisis Calhoun had begun to oppose increases in protective tariffs, as they generally benefited Northerners more than Southerners.
Calhoun had been assured that the northeastern interests would reject the Tariff of , exposing pro-Adams New England congressmen to charges that they selfishly opposed legislation popular among Jacksonian Democrats in the west and mid-Atlantic States.
The southern legislators miscalculated and the so-called "Tariff of Abominations" passed and was signed into law by President Adams. Frustrated, Calhoun returned to his South Carolina plantation, where he anonymously composed South Carolina Exposition and Protest , an essay rejecting the centralization philosophy and supporting the principle of nullification as a means to prevent tyranny of a central government.
Nullification is a legal theory that a state has the right to nullify, or invalidate, any federal law it deems unconstitutional. Madison expressed the hope that the states would declare the acts unconstitutional, while Jefferson explicitly endorsed nullification.
In his later years, Madison rebuked supporters of nullification, stating that no state had the right to nullify federal law. May we all remember that it can only be preserved by respecting the rights of the states, and distributing equally the benefit and burden of the Union.
Jackson and Calhoun began an angry correspondence that lasted until Jackson stopped it in July. It was designed to placate the nullifiers by lowering tariff rates, but the nullifiers in South Carolina remained unsatisfied. On November 24, the South Carolina legislature officially nullified both the Tariff of and the Tariff of , to be null and void as of February 1, Navy warships to Charleston harbor, and threatened to hang Calhoun or any man who worked to support nullification or secession.
A bill sponsored by the administration had been introduced by Representative Gulian C. Verplanck of New York, but it lowered rates more sharply than Clay and other protectionists desired. South Carolina accepted the tariff, but in a final show of defiance, nullified the Force Bill.
Disquisition on Government
A Disquisition on Government John C. Calhoun In order to have a clear and just conception of the nature and object of government, it is indispensable to understand correctly what that constitution or law of our nature is, in which government originates; or, to express it more fully and accurately — that law, without which government would not, and with which, it must necessarily exist. Without this, it is as impossible to lay any solid foundation for the science of government, as it would be to lay one for that of astronomy, without a like understanding of that constitution or law of the material world, according to which the several bodies composing the solar system mutually act on each other, and by which they are kept in their respective spheres. The first question, accordingly, to be considered is — What is that constitution or law of our nature, without which government would not exist, and with which its existence is necessary?
A disquisition on government
The consensus would be effected by this tactic of nullification, a veto that would suspend the law within the boundaries of the state. Constituencies would call for compromise to prevent this outcome. Constitution as interpreted by the Federal Judiciary would no longer exert collective authority over the various states. According to the Supremacy Clause located in Article 6, laws made by the federal government are the "supreme law of the land" only when they are made "in pursuance" of the U. His formula promised to produce laws satisfactory to all interests. The ultimate goal of these mechanisms were to facilitate the authentic will of the white populace.