Theory of nullification essay


Nullification is a constitutional theory that was formed in the 1700s by the Federalist-Republican debates. In its ideology it stated that the states in the union of United States of America had the right to reject any laws passed by the federal government that any state deemed as unconstitutional. Nullification gives power to the state governments to not even challenge the federal state but overrule any law that was against their democratic rights. Under nullification, states are given the power to judge and rebut as well as make final decision on the laws since the union is just an organization that is basically formed by these states.
After suggestion, nullification remained an issue of discussions with many southerners arguing for it and was supported by scholars of the early 1800. Basically the idea of nullification was seen as a weapon against the federal government violation of rights that could be used by the states (Katherine 2001). However, its exclusion in the government legal documents weakened its influence. It was until 1832, that the effect of nullification was considered as having an impact due to the crisis that arose between the then president Jackson and the vice president John Calhoun.
The origin of the differing in opinion between the vice president and the president arose from the change of tariffs that was made in 1828. The federal government had passed the law that foreign investment should be highly taxed and thus increased tariffs in an effort to protect domestic industry. At that moment the United American states were economically divide into two, with the northern region dominating in the manufacturing industry whereas the southern states majored in agriculture. Moreover the southern state had almost depleted its natural resources including land and thus making it economically less productive.
As a result of increased tariffs competition on selling produced goods was reduced and in response prices rose. Therefore the passing of this law was an act of sectionalism, favoring the northern states. The southern states made efforts to nullify the law and threatened to disaffiliate from the union if their views were not taken into consideration by the federal government. Basically the economy in the southern states was too low to make to enable them purchase manufactured goods at the new raised prices. These deemed them weak an issue that the federal government politically used to victimize them and improve its economy at the expense of their social welfare.
In an effort to maintain the union and prevent secession of states, John Calhoun supported that the interests of each and every region should not be contradicted buy any federal decision (Katherine 2001). Nullification was the only way to enhance just between the states and he gave power to majority vote of three quarters in the state governments to nullify any federal law and maintain its membership in the union. With the tariffs affecting the southern and a conflict between the western and northern parts about the ownership of public lands, the southern and western states had now joined hands to eradicate the autocracy of the northeastern region. These was a great threat to the union and thus John Calhoun opted for the reduction of tariffs and used nullification as the basis since he would get support from the southern part. However the Webster- Hayne debate that was held in 1830 contradicted John’s ideas an issue that divided the union into two over the issue of nullification (Robert et al 2005). In these senate debate, Senator Robert Hayne and Senator Daniel Webster argued on one on one base about the issue of lands and tariffs. Hayne, the southern senator, in his argument saw the union at risk since the government had by setting laws made life harder in some region in favor of others. To get back up from the western region he advocated for rising of the western land price that would increase their effort for tariff removal. To his surprise, Webster denied that there were any plans by the eastern region to retard western development and went forward to repudiating the power of states to nullify laws giving this mandate to the high court (Robert et al 2005). Due to Webster’s expertise in argument nullification was deemed unlawful and the power to final decision remained on the union through the federal government with objections being handled by the high court. This final decision by the senate left the southerners unsatisfied as it expressed autocracy of the north eastern states. Moreover the states were to remain obliged to the union an issue that Andrew Jackson supported and was ready to violently act on any state with a contradicting idea.
In 1832, the state of South Carolina felt that their rights had fully been humiliated and saw no reason to retain membership in the union. Despite that the federal government laws was not to be rejected by any state, South Carolina threatened to secede (Katherine 2001). Robert Hayne took the first step to enhance equity and justify nullification and resigned the senate seat to vie for the governor. Here he would have freedom to make decisions on the matters concerning the state of Carolina with no objection as evidenced in the 1830s debate. To support Hayne, John Calhoun quitted his position in the federal government as a vice president to replace Hayne. The two men supported nullification on the idea that tariffs should be reduced or eliminated for the welfare of their state citizens contrary to federal governments stand.
In Jacksons view, nullification was equivalent to betrayal of the federal government power and thus maintained that tariffs should not be reduced. As the president, he strengthened his defense force to cater for any inconveniences that would be brought about by the threat by South Carolina and rapidly informed ships in the Charleston harbor about the tariffs. With support from the senate and the lower house, the Tariff bill was implemented and forcefully effected soldiers.
In the senate position, Calhoun failed to get support from other states and thus cancelled the nullification issue after invent of force bill (Katherine 2001). The force bill aimed at reducing the tariffs over a decade to bring them back to the 1816 level but due to the feeling of being mistreated South Carolina maliciously put it down. To avoid more inconveniences Jackson overlooked this denial and signed both the force bill and the tariff bill. Nullification is of great importance to protect each and every citizen and its denial in in the American union had only a short span impact. Later Carolina joined with other southern states, disaffiliated the union and formed the Confederate States of America.

Work Cited

Calhoun, John C. Mr. Calhoun’s Defense of the Tariff and Internal Improvement.*. Philadelphia: s. n, 2005. Print.
Hayne, Robert Y, Daniel Webster, and Lindsay Swift. The Great Debate between Robert Young Hayne of South Carolina and Daniel Webster of Massachusetts. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 2002. Print.
Young, Katherine. John C. Calhoun and Nationalism in the Antebellum South. Blacksburg, Va: University Libraries, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 2001. Print