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01-13   Print  E-mail
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On January 13, 1832, President Andrew Jackson

 Vice President Martin Van Buren expressing his opposition to South Carolina's defiance of federal authority.The conflict erupted the previous November when South Carolina nullified a federal tariff that favored Northern manufacturing over Southern agriculture. Complicating matters, Jackson's vice president at that time, South Carolina native John C. Calhoun, firmly believed states had the right to overrule federal laws. South Carolinians agreed and planned to use armed force to prevent duty collection in the state after February 1, 1833.

Calhoun developed the idea of nullification--first put forth in the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions of 1798--as a strategy for the South to preserve slavery in the face of a Northern majority in Congress. His support of the measure, disclosed midway through his term, was not shared by President Jackson who feared nullification's power to split the Union. This difference of opinion permanently distanced the president and vice president.

On December 10, 1833, Jackson responded to South Carolina's recalcitrance with a Proclamation to the People of South Carolina. Considered the greatest state paper of the era, Jackson promised to uphold the federal tariff and warned "disunion by armed force is treason." The president reiterated these points in his January 13 letter to Van Buren, closing with the assertion, "nothing must be permitted to weaken our government at home or abroad."


 

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