What discontent Jackson engendered among adherents to the American System when he vetoed re-charter of the Second National Bank, he soothed by tacitly supporting the protective Tariff of 1832, a modification of the 1828 Tariff of Abominations. The National Bank had friends among Southern planters, too, but the tariff had far fewer. Jackson’s acceptance of a “protective” tariff frustrated predominately strict-constructionist/state rights Southrons weary of carrying the load for what they considered an unconstitutional measure. These had hoped by electing the nominally state-rights Jackson to the presidency that he would do something about the tariff—beyond mere modification of a monstrosity they’d dubbed abominable. Jackson, however, did support a protective tariff to protect “American labor,” and he was actually a Southern nationalist for whom the “Union,” not federalism, was sacrosanct. Such creatures did exist, I guess. His adherence to the state-rights doctrine was “qualified” by (this is me talking) how important the issue was to the Federal government, or in his case, the man leading it. With such a leader, state rights becomes arbitrary—sorta like directing who of what sex can use the other gender’s restrooms and school showers. See the problem?
[Granted, contemporary abuse has become ridiculous, but the point is, and as our current situation proves, one cannot “qualify” such a doctrine, which is why strict constructionists are...well, “strict constructionists” to prevent such foolishness.]As far as South Carolina was concerned, the protective tariff was unconstitutional, and in November of that year, she challenged the Tariffs of 1828 and 1832 by passing an Ordinance of Nullification—the same tactic Virginia and Kentucky had used in response to President John Adams’ unconstitutional Alien and Sedition Acts back in 1798. South Carolina had put the Federal government (as well as the rest of the nation) on notice that she would not allow collection of the Federal tariff within her boundaries after 1 February 1833. The state’s intermediary with the Jackson Administration was her senator, John C. Calhoun. Man and state were challenging what in less than fifty years into the new Republic had become standard procedure: sovereign states subverting themselves to an overreaching Federal government in support of “private interests.” Jackson considered nullification tantamount to treason against the “Union.”
Outside the Federal government, the primary benefactors of the protective tariff were the Northeast and its spawn in the Midwest where the measure guarded America’s fledging industries. Well, they had been “fledging” twenty years earlier, but were holding their own by 1832, and the self-serving “protection of American labor” had displaced the euphemistic “protection of fledgling industries.”
Except for some pockets of protection, a good example being Louisiana’s sugar industry, the protective tariff was unpopular across the South, but not enough so to outweigh Jackson’s popularity. Though lip service was given in support of Calhoun, the South outside of South Carolina wished he’d stand down. He didn’t. Neither did Jackson, and on this matter, Jackson had plenty of support in the Northeast. In December, Jackson issued his Proclamation to the people of South Carolina, menacing in tone and condescending in manner. Massachusetts Senator Daniel Webster, whose interests were centered in the protectionist stronghold of New England, applauded the proclamation. His praise did not go unnoticed by the White House. One month later in January 1833, when it became apparent Jackson might require additional powers to subdue the recalcitrant Carolinians and collect his revenues, the president requested Webster’s support in framing the Force Bill which authorized the use of military force against South Carolina.
The Nullification Crisis was the iconic event that ultimately gave birth to the Whig Party. South Carolina responded to Jackson’s threat of force by denouncing Jackson as King Andrew, and it was the nullifiers and state righters of South Carolina who revived the term Whig, not in reference to the English opposition party, but rather to the Southern Patriots who had assumed the name during the American Revolution, highlighting their opposition to King George and distinguishing themselves from their Tory/Loyalist neighbors. Laying out the crisis’ play-by-play in tandem with the values and principles that drove the state righters from the Jackson camp, one ascertains that the basic principles of the Southern Whig did not falter throughout the remainder of the Party’s twenty-some-odd-years existence as a national entity. That is why during Reconstruction one reads statements by old-line Southern Whigs (by then identified as independents, born-again Democrats, and even treacherous Scalawags) referring to state rights and “constitutionality” when denouncing the tyranny exercised by the Radical Republicans in the North. Such comments, which keep popping up in my research on Reconstruction, are what set me on this Whig junket. To a Southern Whig, state rights and strict construction were the principles that gave birth to the Party. Not so for their Northern counterparts where the future “Whig-Party principles” would focus on the protective tariff, the Bank, protection, and the allocation of the resulting Federal largesse for internal improvements. Those people’s platform represented nothing more than the original National Republican agenda warmed over. It was Clay, in sore need of Southern support given his disastrous showing in the election of 1832, who (metaphorically speaking) rode in on his white charger and saved the Republic from civil war. But the South had more than electoral support to offer Henry Clay, something he desperately needed: the core of a new party with Southern support already built in.
Next time I will hit the highpoints driving the compromise that ended the Nullification Crisis.
Thanks for reading,
Good article,thanks, Charlsie. More comment on the Google+ group page "Confederate Appreciation".ReplyDelete