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present, like the Deity. If we take to ourselves the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, duty performed, or duty violated, is still with us, for our happiness or our misery. If we say the darkness shall cover us, in the darkness as in the light our obligations are yet with us. We cannot escape their power, nor fly from their presence. They are with us in this life, will be with us at its close; and in that scene of inconceivable solemnity, which lies yet further onward, we shall still find ourselves surrounded by the consciousness of duty, to pain us wherever it has been violated, and to console us so far as God may have given us grace to perform it.
John CALDWELL CALHOUN, the grandson of an Irish Presbyterian who
founded the Calhoun settlement in the district of Abbeville, South Carolina, was born in that place in 1782. After graduating at Yale College, he spent eighteen months at the Litchfield Law School, whence he returned to practice at the bar in his native district of Abbeville. While there, in June, 1807, Calhoun drew up for a public meeting a resolution expressing indignation at the searching of the frigate “Chesapeake” by a British warship, and supported the resolution in a speech of such power that he was soon afterward elected a member of the State Legislature. In November, 1811, he became a member of the Federal Congress, and there gave a vigorous support to the war party. For several years, beginning with 1817, he acted as Secretary of War under President Monroe. In 1825 he became Vice-President of the United States under John Quincy Adams, and four years later was re-elected to the same office under General Jackson. Although he had supported the protective tariff of 1816, he now stood forth as an eager advocate of free trade, and as a strenuous defender of the institution of slavery. In both capacities he came to be looked upon as the champion of the Southern States. He was the author, or rather sponsor, of a doctrine to which the Civil War may be traced, to wit: the doctrine of nullification first embodied in the Kentucky and Virginia resolutions of 1798, according to which any State has the right to reject any act of Congress which it deems unconstitutional. This view was in 1829 adopted by the Legislature of Calhoun’s native State, and set forth in a document mainly prepared by him which was known as the “South Carolina Exposition,” and which was approved by Virginia, Georgia and Alabama. In 1832 the South Carolina Legislature put the theory in practice by passing laws nullifying the obnoxious tariff of that year; but its opposition was crushed by the firmness of President Jackson, who declared that he would resort to force, if necessary. The most important of Calhoun’s other political acts are his defence of the right of veto which is lodged by the Constitution in the President; his advocacy of the annexation of Texas, and his maintenance of the cause of peace, when war with Great Britain was threatened by the claim of the United States that the northern boundary of Oregon must not be placed further south than 54° 40'. Calhoun died at Washington on March 31, 1850.
§ 18–Orations—Vol. WIL (403)
ON NULLIFICATION AND THE FORCE BILL
UNITED STATES SENATE, FEBRUARY 15, 1833 Mr. President : T THE last session of Congress, it was avowed on all sides that the public debt, as to all practical purposes, was in fact paid, the small surplus remaining being nearly covered by the money in the Treasury and the bonds for duties which had already accrued; but with the arrival of this event our last hope was doomed to be disappointed. After a long session of many months, and the most earnest effort on the part of South Carolina and the other Southern States to obtain relief, all that could be effected was a small reduction in the amount of the duties, but a reduction of such a character that, while it diminished the amount of burden, it distributed that burden more unequally than even the obnoxious Act of 1828; reversing the principle adopted by the Bill of 1816, of laying higher duties on the unprotected than the protected articles, by repealing almost entirely the duties laid upon the former, and imposing the burden almost entirely on the latter. It was thus that, instead of relief—instead of an equal distribution of burdens and benefits of the government, on the payment of the debt, as had been fondly anticipated—the duties were so arranged as to be, in fact, bounties on one side and taxation on the other; thus placing the two great sections of the country in direct conflict in reference to its fiscal action, and thereby letting in that flood of political corruption which threatens to sweep away our Constitution and our liberty.