John c calhoun and the nullification crisis in the united states

Blog States' Rights The conflict between the rights of the states and the powers of the federal government played a major role in the writing of the constitution and the process of ratification. Federalists argued for a strong federal power while anti-federalists opposed the new constitution entirely, or at least they wanted a Bill of Rights that would ensure individual liberties. Included in the Bill of Rights that was adopted was the Tenth Amendment, reserving all unallocated rights to the states and the people. Some of the anti-federalists had been prominent in the American Revolution, and didn't feel that the Articles of Confederation needed to be changed at all.

John c calhoun and the nullification crisis in the united states

The Constitution and the theory of nullification[ edit ] Provisions of the Constitution[ edit ] The Constitution does not contain any clause expressly providing that the states have the power to declare federal laws unconstitutional.

They have argued that before the Constitution was ratified, the states essentially were separate nations. Under this theory, the Constitution is a contract, or " compact, " among the states by which the states delegated certain powers to the federal government, while reserving all other powers to themselves.

The states, as parties to the compact, retained the inherent right to judge compliance with the compact. According to supporters of nullification, if the states determine that the federal government has exceeded its delegated powers, the states may declare federal laws unconstitutional.

John c calhoun and the nullification crisis in the united states

The courts have rejected the compact theory, finding that the Constitution was not a contract among the states. Rather, the Constitution was established directly by the people, as stated in the preamble: Under the Supremacy Clause of Article VIthe Constitution and federal laws made in pursuance thereof are "the supreme law of the land.

Federal laws are valid and are controlling, so long as those laws were adopted in pursuance of—that is, consistent with—the Constitution.


Determining whether a federal law is consistent with the Constitution requires interpretation of the law, which is inherently a judicial function.

The federal judicial power granted by Article III of the Constitution gives the federal courts authority over all cases "arising under this Constitution [or] the laws of the United States. The courts therefore have held that the states do not have the power to nullify federal law.

On the other hand, the records of the Convention support the idea that the power to declare federal laws unconstitutional lies in the federal courts. At least fifteen Constitutional Convention delegates from nine states spoke about the power of the federal courts to declare federal laws unconstitutional.

For example, George Mason said that under the Constitution, federal judges "could declare an unconstitutional law void. Charles Pinckney referred to federal judges as "Umpires between the U.

States and the individual States. The records of the state ratifying conventions do not include any assertions that the states would have the power to nullify federal laws.

It has been argued that certain statements in the Virginia ratifying convention, although not asserting a right of nullification, articulated a basis for the compact theory. They would declare it void.

To what quarter will you look for protection from an infringement on the Constitution, if you will not give the power to the judiciary? There is no other body that can afford such a protection. On the other hand, the records of these conventions support the idea that the power to declare federal laws unconstitutional lies in the federal courts.

On the contrary, they say that the power to declare laws unconstitutional concerning is delegated to federal courts, not the states. It explains that under the Constitution, this issue is to be decided by the Supreme Court, not the states: It is true that in controversies relating to the boundary between the two jurisdictions, the tribunal which is ultimately to decide, is to be established under the general [i.

Some such tribunal is clearly essential to prevent an appeal to the sword and a dissolution of the compact; and that it ought to be established under the general rather than under the local governments, or, to speak more properly, that it could be safely established under the first alone, is a position not likely to be combated.

According to Federalist No. The Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions[ edit ] Main article: Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions The earliest assertion of the theories of nullification and interposition is found in the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions ofwhich were a protest against the Alien and Sedition Acts.

In these resolutions, authors Thomas Jefferson and James Madison argued that "the states" have the right to interpret the Constitution and can declare federal laws unconstitutional when the federal government exceeds its delegated powers. These resolutions are considered the foundational documents of the theories of nullification and interposition.

The Kentucky Resolutions ofwritten by Jefferson, asserted that the states formed the Constitution as a compact, delegating certain specified powers to the federal government and reserving all other powers to themselves. Rather, these resolutions declared that Kentucky "will bow to the laws of the Union" but would continue "to oppose in a constitutional manner" the Alien and Sedition Acts.

The resolutions stated that Kentucky was entering its "solemn protest" against those Acts.Slavery was the foundation of the antebellum South. More than any other characteristic, it defined Southern social, political, and cultural life. It also unified the South as a section distinct from the rest of the nation.

John C. Calhoun, the South’s recognized intellectual and political leader. The nullification crisis was a conflict between the U.S. state of South Carolina and the federal government of the United States in – It was driven by South Carolina politician John C.

John c calhoun and the nullification crisis in the united states

Calhoun, who opposed the federal imposition of the tariffs of and and argued that the U.S. Constitution gave states the right to block the enforcement of a federal law.

The Andrew Jackson site has been retired from To find similar history and technology content on, explore our American Experience site.

Or, try our keyword search or browse the. The Governor of South Carolina bought buttons like this one as a symbol of defiance to the U.S. government. By the late 's, the north was becoming increasingly industrialized, and the south was remaining predominately agricultural.

The Ordinance of Nullification issued by South Carolina in The role of States' Rights in the history of the United States of America.


John Caldwell Calhoun (/ k æ l ˈ h uː n /; March 18, – March 31, ) was an American statesman and political theorist from South Carolina, and the seventh Vice President of the United States from to He is remembered for strongly defending slavery and for advancing the concept of minority rights in politics, which he .

nullification crisis | Summary & Significance |