In the late 1820’s, the Northern Carolina became more industrialized as the Southern remained non-developed. The Congress had passed a high protective tariff in 1828 that made the southern states more furious because they thought the tariff only benefited the northern states. The southern claimed that high tariff on imports were imposed to them leading to increased costs of importing products. Bradley Hays saw the Southern states sympathy to South Carolina’s position on the tariff rejected as the cause of federalism (Hays 221). Eventually, the doctrine of nullification was introduced that provided an insight to the role of federalism in constitutional politics. Nullification crises emerged as the southern Carolina threatened succession from the union if the tariff was not abandoned. There was no room for negotiation and Calhoun, the Vice President, who had supported the tariff, had no option but to avail to the public demands. A new tariff bill with lower rates than the previous tariff was introduced. Later in 1832 the South Carolina Ordinance of Nullification was enacted into law. Since then, South Carolina knew nothing about any tariff operating in the country.
The above issue led into nullification crisis as different bodies argued over their political and constitutional rights. There was a state of instability as politicians and activists argued on the banner of nullification, ignoring the traditional state’s role in interpreting the constitution. The following discussion will critically analyze Bradley’s statement with a clearly delineated argument and counter-argument.
Two arguments will assist in the analysis of the above case. The first argument will be in favor of the nullification doctrine introduced in South Carolina and why the state should exclude itself from the union. The arguments will also analyze the positive impacts to the country’s economy. Secondly, a counter-argument on the side effects of the doctrine will be analyzed. This counter-argument will focus on the American constitution and how nullification brought about various political conflicts that made the country achieve a poor economic status.
Following Bradley D. Hays Argument, I support the doctrine of nullification. Legal and political scholars have failed terribly to incorporate the issue of political change into constitutional theory. The nullification confrontation that occurred between 1832 and 1833 was the best step in defining the powers of southern and Northern states. The peculiar American version of republicanism assumed that no government was sovereign. The American people respected and exercised the laws as governed by the constitution in state convections. The state convections played a great role in dissolving connections with England and creating state constitutions as well as ratifying the federal constitution (Tanenhaus 12). The argument concerns theoretically limitless powers state and convections that lacked bureaucratic means. They were aimed at stopping an already established federal government with powerful government machineries. The United States Supreme Court however, had powers to protect states rights from national activists and politicians. According to Hays, the southern Carolina had the right to protect their economy by rejecting the tariff because it expressed their constitutional rebel (222).
The exchange of words between President Andrew Jackson and his Vice-President John Calhoun in 1830 created a division of power in the U.S. during the introduction of the doctrine of nullification (Tanenhaus 26). Andrew, who came from the south and slaves’ owner, was commitment to maintaining the peace and reconciliation in his nation. The president supported the 1811 tariff that oversaw Southern Carolina residents pay high import duties. Calhoun’s state had moved away from its earlier commitment to nationalism, a step that made Southern Carolina chose between being loyal to its state or to its own country. The letter written by Calhoun entitled “The South Carolina Exposition and Protest’ arguing that the states had the right to nullify any law they judged unconstitutional brought many controversies. The argument, as presented by Hays, aimed at ensuring that the Southern Carolina declined passing of the import tariff because it was meant to make the country suffer (Aboukhadijeh 2).
On the other side of the government, the senate debated over the nature of the union for a period of four months. The debates assisted politicians’ share their opinions and get feedback from the general public about the nature and effects of the proposed tariff. In addition, crucial issues related to nationalism union, national laws and state nullifications were discussed that assisted in shaping the politics of the country in the future. Constitutionalism required that politicians and activists show fidelity to their legal processes in order to make their arguments more formal. The move by the Southern Carolina people to nullify the tariff is highly supported by the fact that the state constitution allows any law to be rejected if lacks support from the public. In addition, the following argument will ensure that in future, law makers and constitutional drafters will put into consideration areas clauses that favor every person irrespective of their gender, political backgrounds or race (Aboukhadijeh 3).
On the other hand, the doctrine of nullification was acceptable bearing the fact that southern Carolina was not industrialized. Nullifying the tariff had the potential of affecting the entire union, but this did not prevent them from rejecting the tariff. Supporters of nullification attempted to pass the nullification through, but faced opposition from the Unionists who believed the state had no rights to nullify a passed doctrine. Calhoun sought support from as many citizens as possible and threatened to overthrow the government should the president fail to nullify the tariff. These supporters fought for their rights because the new import tariff was aimed at extorting them off their cash and made them beg from Northern Carolina, which was already industrialized. Southern Carolina people depended on agriculture for their survival. The implementation of the import tariff law would see them spend more money on importing agricultural inputs such as fertilizers and machinery.
The nullification doctrine also demonstrated some good leadership qualities as those shown by Calhoun. He was on the front line to ensure that the state nullifies the tariff and to show his solidarity to followers, he resigned from the Vice President’s post. The emergence of nullification crisis clearly indicated that some people, especially politicians, never understood the America’s legal constitution. Most argued that it was against the constitution to nullify a doctrine that has already been passed into law, but Calhoun argued that a doctrine that never cared about the life of a normal citizen was a good as dead. I personally support this argument because citizens are the source of revenue for a country and as such, they should be treated with respect they deserve. Every nation wants to grow and develop, but the presence of such tariffs hinders national growth.
The Southerners wanted to frustrate and defeat New England states in order to gain more protection for their industries. They voted higher tariffs in 1828 so that even those supporting it would object. The above strategy failed because their enemies used anything possible to render the motion useless. An observation by Jefferson concluded that any practice associated with the political constitution allowed states to engage in comparative debate over the meaning of the constitution. The following debate led to the introduction of a tariff with duties of 45 cents for every dollar import. This move was not accepted by the Southerners, but the North was more than pleased because they were more industrialized hence, exported more that they imported. The American manufacturers also were given protection for less expensive foreign products produced through cheap labor. This move was seen as a way of exploiting the South forcing the Vice President to introduce a move to get out of the union. From the above argument, it was necessary for the Southern Carolina to implement their own tariffs to avoid exploitation by the Americans from the North.
Calhoun’s theory together with that of other bodies in support of nullification of the tariff led to a great debate in the senate floor. Senator Robert Hayne saw an opportunity to introduce the State’s rights and support the nullification theory of Calhoun. It was discovered that the public owned huge tracks of idle land that the government could use to raise revenue instead of imposing heavy duties in imports. In addition, Hayne saw the big negative effect of the tariff on his home state in Southern Carolina. The government was just but endangering the Union by passing laws that introduced hardship to one section of the country in order to benefit the other. He spotted out that the continuing nullification conflicts would only lead to a poor country with a great division of the Southern and Northern Carolina states. To prove his point, Hayne used an example of Virginia and Kentucky resolutions of 1798 that led to the division of the two states. In his argument, Hayne tried to oppose the move by the federal government to judge its own powers in order to make one nation a slave of the other. It was evidence that if the Southern with the help of Calhoun never intervened into the constitution, they would be slaves of the Northern state to date.
In concluding the above argument the state should stay united and fight for her rights since it is provided in the constitution. The Vice-President stood his ground to support his followers even if the President seemed less concerned about the livelihood of his citizens. Moreover the argument shows how government bodies and political parties force the public misinterpret the constitution for their own private gains. This argument however, can be countered with the fact that the implementation of the tariff was a means of bringing revenue to the states as discussed in the counter-arguments below.
The argument by Bradley D. Hays would also not seem as a way of making a government proceed. Most states depend on import duties for their improvement because such tariffs have the potential of earning a country a lot of revenues. By disregarding the move by the federal government to impose tariffs on imports, the Southern state was denying itself a chance to become industrialized like their counterparts, Northern Carolina. Laws are made and corrections are allowed but, total nullification of a doctrine might not be a solution to a problem facing a developing state. Correction of any error made while making a rule requires a majority of states to work together in support of the amendments, but not to favor nullification. In addition, economically weaker states should sought support from stronger states.
Hays argument creates a state of tension in both states since the Southern Carolina could blame Northern Carolina for its political instabilities, and economic misfortunes. The move by some politicians, especially the President, would form a better way of uniting the two states since they wanted to come into an agreement on how to remedy the tariff. As argue in the passage, most activists who demanded nullification of the tariff misunderstood the traditional state’s role in interpreting politics. They took advantage of the majority supporters in the senate to pass the bill for nullification of imports’ duty tariff. I totally believe the President personal courage and commitment not to support the nullification motion was an effort to reign in the federal government. Moreover, the move led to instability in the country as several threats were issued to those who could not support the move to nullify the doctrine. Northern Carolina made more progress in their production industries and earn more revenues as the Southerners fought for the removal of import tariffs in the name of following the America’s constitution.
The nullification crisis also created an issue on the merits of the legal constitution. Many people do not differentiate between the present America constitution and the traditional constitution. The judicial has powers to nullify any law passed by the federal government only if it has been passed by the senate. The America’s current indifference and division shows that the country is prepared to risk citizens’ lives in order to restore their liberty. Most Americans were used to participate in public demonstrations in order to air their views on the proposed tariffs. The federal government showed a lot of concern for its citizens because it did not fire upon them, but instead it accepted to nullify the tariff law. Such a kind heart and understanding makes me think that the federal government was imposing duties on imports for the benefit of its citizens in the South who were slow in development. In addition, they took their time and resources to educate the public on the constitution and how they should interpret different clauses (Tanenhaus 33).
Article 5 Convection of States indicates that nullification cannot appeal an already existing constitutional amendment. Calhoun and his union supporters bleached the constitution when they called upon the public to demonstrate in order to make their concerns heard by the government. The rule on article 5 states clearly that any proposed rule that fails to meet the demand of the public should be discussed by the concerned parties in a peaceful environment. Politicians and activists whose aim is to pursue nullification in every law that is proposed by the federal government provide a wrong interpretation of the constitution under this article. The federal legislature has no control over any amendments proposed in the constitution because it is an independent government body.
The nullification and convection of states in Carolina came with many effects to the federal government that were of benefit to some and never favored others. As seen from the above arguments, politicians and activists had the potential to influence the public in two different ways. Firstly, there are those who were in favor of nullifying the import tariff law so that the Southern state could benefit. Secondly, there were others who stood by the federal government in upholding the state doctrines and implementing the constitution without calling for any amendments. In the argument, it was clearly demonstrated that the American people respected and exercised the laws as governed by the constitution in state convections. The public was ready to fight for their constitutional rights using all means including violence. The Vice-President, Calhoun, demonstrated his loyalty to the citizens by resigning from his position and joining unionists in passing the motion.
On the other hand, the counter-argument section uses a different perspective in interpreting the American constitution. The move by some politicians, especially the President, would act as a better way of uniting the two states since they wanted to come into an agreement on how to remedy the tariff. This section demonstrated my view on implementing constitutional totally. The whole analysis forms a better way of proving to the public that the government caters for every individual and introduces regulations for the benefit of everyone.
Aboukhadijeh, Feross. "Nullification Crisis" StudyNotes.org. StudyNotes, Inc., 17 Nov. 2012.
Web. 26 Feb. 2014.
Hays, Bradley D. “Nullification and the Political, Legal, and Quasi-Legal Constitutions.”
Publius: The Journal of Federalism. 43. Spring. 2013, pp. 221-222
Tanenhaus, David Spinoza. Encyclopedia of the Supreme Court of the United States. Detroit:
Macmillan Reference USA, 2008. Print.