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an ordinance repealing the nullification law. Thus the sectional difficulty was settled for the time.
1. The tariff laws of 1824, 1828, 1832, were carried against the opinions and interests of the Southern States, by the combined influence of manufacturers and politicians. In 1824, a portion of the Eastern members were opposed to the tariff act, from a regard to the commercial interests of the States or districts which they represented. With some exceptions, the tariff laws of 1828 and 1832 were Northern measures, for the benefit of the North. With some few exceptions, these laws were vigorously opposed by the South, because they would operate injuriously upon Southern interests. Louisiana, from a regard to her sugar crop, which was protected by the tariff laws, went in favor of those laws. The greed of gain and the greed of office conspired to pass those laws for the evident benefit of the North, for the doubtful benefit of the whole country, and to the manifest injury of the South, which had no manufactures to be benefited. o
2. The Southern States felt that they were oppressed by these burdensome tariffs. According to the intimation of GEORGE MASON in the Constitutional Convention, they found themselves “bound hand and foot” in the power of the Eastern States. And if these did not exclaim, “The Lord hath delivered them in our hands,” still they talked about the “general welfare” as they understood it, and not about the rights of the States, or the provisions of the Constitution which secured those rights. As “a gift destroyeth the heart,” so “oppression maketh a wise man mad.” As the profits derived from protected manufactures produced narrow and sectional feelings at the North, so the burdens imposed by extravagant tariff laws led the State of South Carolina to the madness or folly of nullifying those laws, on the ground that they were oppressive and unconstitutional.
To relieve herself from the operation of these tariff laws, South Carolina passed the ordinance of nullification, which, whatever may be true in the theory of the relationship of the States, involves the practical absurdity that a State may, at one and the same time, be in the Union for the enjoyment of its benefits, and out of the Union in bearing its burdens. South Carolina, in the ordinance, declares that in case of the application of physical force, on the part of the General Government, to execute the tariff laws, she will secede and set up a separate Government. To meet this threat, Senator CLAYTON declared and proved that State secession is a less evil than State nullification. The country was in a very unhappy condition. South Carolina had passed the ordinance of nullification, and was threatening secession. The Southern States sympathized with her. Virginia had passed a resolve that she expected both the General Government and South Carolina to keep the peace. 3. General JACKsoN was the man for the occasion; and yet his action in the premises and his motives have been misunderstood. a. He was opposed to high tariffs, and thus agreed with N Southern men in regard to the cause of the difficulty. b. He earnestly advised the repeal, or rather a modification of the tariff laws, which had created the difficulty. This he did repeatedly in his messages to Congress, and just before the ordinance was passed. c. He claimed to be a native of South Carolina, and could, therefore, address the inhabitants of that State in a manner that would inspire confidence, in his endeavors to win them back into the Union. While he thus claims kindred with them, they would feel inclined to allow his claims, and yield to his persuasion. Listen to his language of kindness which he addresses to them in his proclamation: “Fellow-citizens of my native State! Let me not only admonish you, as the first magistrate of our common country, not to incur the penalty of its laws, but use the influence that a father would have over his children, whom he saw rushing to ruin. In that paternal language, with that paternal feeling, let me tell you, my countrymen, that you are deluded by the men who are either deceived themselves, or wish to deceive you.” d. He asked authority from Congress to use force, if it should
be necessary, in the collection of duties in South Carolina. Congress gave him this authority, but it also passed the compromise bill, which would render the application of force unnecessary. He was resolute to execute the laws, even upon his native State, but he preferred a peaceful settlement of the difficulties, such as was accomplished by his own wisdom, and that of the very able men in the Cabinet, and in the Senate and House of Representatives. 4. Mr. Clay must have been greatly disappointed in the result of the election of 1832; General JACKsoN receiving 219 votes, and he only 49. Besides losing his election, which his friends hoped to carry by means of his “American system,” he saw that the system itself was in danger. That system was made by his party one of the important issues in that election, and the decision of the Presidential electors seemed to be against that system as well as against himself. General JACKsoN, too, in his recent message, had recommended an alteration of the tariff laws, a recommendation that would be very apt to take effect. Moreover, Mr. CLAY, noble-spirited as he was, must have had some “compunctious visitings of nature,” in view of the sectional difficulties which had been brought about by the introduction of his favorite system into the legislation of the country. He had left the Democratic party, of which he was an ornament, to form a party of his own, which had been successful in carrying his favorite measure, but which had not been successful in the late Presidential campaign. Self-reliant as he was, he could hardly fail to have some misgivings as to the wisdom of his course, which had helped to bring the country into its present perilous condition. He was, without doubt, anxious to settle the sectional difficulties in a way honorable to both sections. When Mr. CLAY introduced his compromise bill for the settlement of these difficulties, he accompanied it with the declaration “that, whether rightfully or wrongfully, the tariff stands in imminent danger. If it should even be preserved during this session, it must fall at the next session.” In the course of his speech, he said: “I wish to see the tariff separated from the politics of the country, that business men may go to work in security, with some prospect of stability in our laws, and without every thing being staked on the issue of our elections, as it were on the hazards of the die.” In reference to the state of sectional feeling for and against the tariff, he said: “I am anxious to find out some principle of mutual accommodation, to satisfy, as far as practicable, both parties; to increase the stability of our legislation; and, at some distant day, not too distant when we take into view the magnitude of the interests which are involved, to bring down the rate of duties to that revenue standard for which our opponents have so long contended.” Mr. Forsyth, of Georgia, in his reply to Mr. CLAY, remarked: “The avowed object of the bill would meet with universal approbation. It was a project to harmonize the people, and it could come from no better source than from the gentleman from Kentucky; for to no one else were we more indebted than to him, for the discord and the discontent which agitate us.” “The Senator from Kentucky says the tariff is in danger; aye, sir, it is at its last gasp. It has received the irremediable wound; no hellebore can cure it.” Mr. JoHN DAVIs, of Massachusetts, in the House of Representatives, said, in reference to this bill: “But I do object to a compromise which destines the East to the altar. No victim, in my judgment, is required—none is necessary; and yet you propose to bind us hand and foot, to pour out our blood on the altar, and sacrifice us as a burnt-offering to appease the unnatural and unfounded discontent of the South—a discontent, I fear, having deeper root than the tariff, and will continue when that is forgotten.” 5. Mr. CALHoun, like Mr. CLAY, was worthy of the highest office in the gift of the nation, and, like him, he aspired after it. He was a leading member of the Democratic party, and had / acted with Mr. CLAY in promoting the war of 1812. To the “American system,” which Mr. CLAY had labored during three Presidential campaigns to establish, he was strongly opposed. He was an advocate of free trade, except for the purposes of a revenue, and was in favor of only incidental protection to manufactures. He enjoyed the confidence of the Democratic party, and, indeed, of the whole country, as an able statesman and an
honest man. It was predicted of him at an early period, that *
if he would bide his time, he would certainly be President of the United States. But now in 1833, both he and Mr. CLAY seemed to be as far off as ever from the position they both coveted. They need not, therefore, now be jealous of each other. They were both patriots; they both hated General JACKSoN ; they were both willing to unite and save the country, and to thwart any military schemes for the subjugation of South Carolina. On the introduction of the compromise bill, Mr. CALHouN said: “He who loved the Union must desire to see this great agitating question brought to a termination. Until it should be terminated, we could not expect the restoration of peace and harmony, or a sound condition of things throughout the country. He believed that to the unhappy divisions which had kept the Northern and Southern States apart from each other, the present entirely degraded condition of the country was solely attributable.” e To Mr. CLAY, and Mr. CALHOUN, and General JACKSON, it was principally owing that these sectional difficulties connected with the tariff were settled, and the land had rest for a time and a SeaSOrl. It is a remarkable fact that Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, States that had great difficulties with the General Government, during the Administration of Mr. JEFFERSON and Mr. MADIsoN, on account of their commercial interests, as set forth in the doings of the Hartford Convention, did not give a single vote for the settlement of the sectional difficulties, by the passage of the compromise bill proposed by Mr. CLAY.