America In the Early 19th Century

Topic: Nullification

Table of Contents
Vocabulary Terms and Identifications
Important Chart
Biographies of Key Historical Figures



In 1828 Congress passed a high tariff act which favored the industrial north. Another tariff was passed in 1832, even though 
the tariff act of 1832 was slightly easier than the tariff of 1828. South Carolina declared the tariff of 1828 and 1832 null and void.  The state threatened to secede, or leave the Union if the government tried to collect duties.

On December 10,1832 Jackson ordered troops and warships to be sent to Charleston. He felt that the action by South Carolina to refuse to pay the tariff of 1928 was treason. The Force bill he rammed through Congress allowed him use the armed forces to collect tariffs. To prevent use of federal troops against South Carolina, Senator Henry Clay passed through a compromise tariff bill that would be in effect for ten years.

South Carolina immediately called a convention that passed a law  of nullification forbidding a collection of tariff duties in the state.  Nullification was a political doctrine holding that a state might reject or nullify any federal law that it was considered unconstitutional. The idea of nullification influenced southern political thought about states rights and helped clear the way for secession at the time of the Civil War. The rise of states' rights theory in the South was made especially strong due to the rise on the importance of cotton in the South's economy during the early 1800s. Nullification was justified in the 1830s when southerners charged the Tariff Act not was only discriminative in term  but was thought of as being unconstitutional.

Vocabulary and Identifications

1)  Nullify  To declare that a certain law will not be enforced.

2)  States Rights: the idea that states may nullify federal laws if they are found to be unconstitutional.

3)  Force Bill  Gave power to Jackson to use the army and navy to enforce the Tariff of 1828.

4)  John C. Calhoun Vice President and supporter of keeping the Union along with states' rights.

5)  Tariffs  Taxes on imports, especially manufactured goods from England.

Important Chart


Flow Chart: The Nullification Crisis of 1832

Flow Chart: The Nullification Crisis of 1832

Biographies of Important People
John C. Calhoun

     John C. Calhoun was a man of great ambition, he ran for president in 1824.  After losing to Jackson he withdrew for vice-president.  At the time of the election for vice-president he wasn't seen with a states' rights position.  But his views were changing inspired by the cotton cultivation, which was dependent on slavery.
     In 1828 he secretly authored South Carolina Exposition and Protest, which asserted that a state had the power of nullification over any federal law it  was thought of as unconstitutional. 

Andrew Jackson

     The Tariff Act threatened to leave the Union if the government tried to collect duties at Charleston.  Senator Henry Clay had a compromise bill that reduced all tariffs for ten years.  South Carolina took out its nullification of the tariff but declared a forced law.  But this did not settle the nullification issue.  Nullification  angered Andrew Jackson. On Dec. 10,1832 Jackson ordered troops to march to Charleston.


1.  Who was president during the Nullification Crisis?

2.  Who authored South Carolina Exposition and Protest in 1828?

3.  Who ran for President in 1824 but lost to Andrew Jackson?

4.  John C. Calhoun changed his opinion about following federal law because of the cultivation of what crop that was dependent on slaves?

5.  Who wrote the Compromise Bill that reduced tariffs for ten years?





1. Andrew Jackson

2. John C. Calhoun

3. John C. Calhoun

4. Cotton

5. Henry Clay

 Resources: Academic America Encyclopedia

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