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Tariff of Abomination and Nullification Crisis

Tariff and Nullification

By the beginning of 1820’s the American economy was faced with downward spiral as a result of several events such as The Panic of 1819 and the failure of The Second Bank of the United States. The states were not able to produce goods cheaply any more. Northern states needed agriculture goods and southern states needed manufactured goods. However southern states could by manufactured goods cheaper from foreign countries than northern states. Abomination tariff of 1828 and tariff of 1832 were passed in order to promote stimulation of northern states’ economy. But these tariffs caused disunity in the United States. Southern states came up with a theory of nullification by John C.Calhoun pretending that states has the sovereignty and that states made up the federal government, so that the states has the last word to declare tariffs null and void. But they found Andrew Jackson as an opposing figure who tried to increase American economy.

Abomination tariff of 1828 pushed the duties on citizens as high as 45 percent on the value of certain manufactured items. Tariff of 1832 fell far short of meeting all southern demands. It did lower the imposts to about the level of moderate Tariff of 1824, 35 percent. Yet the new law was still frankly protective.

Compromise between government and states was a result of all these tariffs. There were two most important figures in this compromise between government and states: Andrew Jackson and John C.Calhoun. John C.Calhoun argued that the constitution was not the supreme law, but a contract between sovereign states that set up a federal government to perform certain functions for the contracting parties. As such states possessed the final authority to interpret the constitution. In his opinion the “people” were a political fiction, which under central government had come to mean the collective popular majority. He stated that states had right to nullify. As he said nullification was “simply a declaration on the part of the principal, made in due form, that an act of the agent transcending his power is null and void.” And if the government didn’t accept this South Carolina would secede from the union and organize a separate independent government.

Andrew Jackson issued “Proclamation on Nullification” as a backfire to the people of South Carolina, stating that the union was perpetual, and under the constitution, there was no right of secession. The United States was a union and not a league and secession was revolutionary and would destroy the nation. Later Congress passed the “Force Bill”, reaffirming the president’s power to call up state militias, the army and navy to quell any insurrection and granted greater powers to use the courts to enforce collection of duties. As a result, the nullifiers resembled their popular convention and repealed the nullifying ordinance, then proceeded to nullify the Force Act.

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