Image courtesy of the Library of Congress
John C. Calhoun of South Carolina served as Representative, Senator, and Vice President. Calhoun resigned his position as Vice President to return to the Senate in 1832.
On this day, the Tariff of 1828—better known as the Tariff of Abominations—passed the House of Representatives, 105 to 94. The tariff sought to protect New England manufacturing interests and western agricultural products from competition with foreign imports; however, the resulting tax on foreign goods severely devalued southern cotton exports. President John Quincy Adams
approved the bill in a de facto
endorsement of its sectional favoritism, essentially sealing his loss to Andrew Jackson
in the 1828 presidential election. Vice President John C. Calhoun
of South Carolina anonymously penned the South Carolina Exposition and Protest
, articulating the doctrine of nullification. The doctrine emphasized a state’s right to reject federal laws within its borders and questioned the constitutionality of taxing imports without the explicit goal of raising revenue. Calhoun later took credit for the doctrine in 1832 to the detriment of his presidential ambitions. Following their statesman’s lead, the South Carolina legislature nullified the tariff in November 1832. While other southern states disagreed with the tariff, South Carolina was the only state to invoke nullification. Following a few tense months, South Carolina eventually accepted a compromise tariff in January 1833. The constitutional crisis was only temporarily averted, as tensions remained between northern and southern states.