Nullification Crisis

Date: 1828-1833
  • In 1824, Congress had increased the tariff significantly, but manufacturers still wanted it higher. Even higher tariff passed in 1828.
  • Southerners (heavy consumers of manufacturing with little manufacturing of their own) were against this tariff. Tariff of 1828 nicknamed "Tariff of Abominations." The South believed this Yankee tariff discriminated against them. The tariff became a scapegoat for hard times in the South. There was also a lot of deeper issues: like anxieties about federal interference with slavery.
  • South Carolina took the lead in protesting against the tariff. John C. Calhoun (VP) secretly published the South Carolina Exposition in 1828. It denounced the tariff as unjust and unconstitutional, and it bluntly and explicitly proposed that the states should nullify the tariff (declare it null and void within their borders).
  • Congress passed Tariff of 1832, which was a little less than 1828, but it still didn't meet southern demands.
  • South Carolina "Nullies" wore palmetto ribbons to mark their loyalty to SC, and the state legislature called for a special convention. They declared the tariff null and void in SC, and threatened to leave Union if Washington attempted to collect the customs duties by force. Andrew Jackson got freakin' mad, and he threatened to invade the state and hang the nullies. Also issued proclamation against nullification, SC former senator Robert Y. Hayne responded with a counterproclamation.
  • Henry Clay came up with a compromise to avoid any conflict or disunion. He proposed that they would gradually reduce the Tariff of 1832 by about 10% over a period of eight years. By 1842 the rates would be back at the mildly protective level of 1816. Compromise Tariff of 1833 went through Congress.
  • Congress passed the Force Bill: authorized the president to use the army and navy, if necessary, to collect federal tariff duties.
  • South Carolina had another convention where they repealed the ordinance of nullification, but nullified the Force Bill.
  • This was solved with compromise, but the fundamental issues were not resolved. When the next "nullies" and the Union clashed, compromise would be trickier.

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