Jackson Vs. Calhoun And The Nullification Crisis

1437 words - 6 pages

It has been rare in American history for presidents and vice-presidents not to get along, but it has happened on a few occasions: Adams and Jefferson, Kennedy and Johnson, and Eisenhower and Nixon are a few examples (Jackson vs. Calhoun-Part 1 1). However, the most controversial relationship between president and his assistant was between Andrew Jackson and John C. Calhoun. Their disagreements began very early on in Jackson's administration, and lasted until after the resolution of the Nullification Crisis. Nullification is the refusal of a state to recognize a federal law within its boundaries and deem that law unconstitutional. In this case, South Carolina, led by John C. Calhoun, refused to recognize the protective tariffs in 1828, and 1832, saying that they benefited the North and injured the South. At this point in time, the American system of government was fairly new and the struggle between state and federal power was in full swing. Towards the end of the crisis, Calhoun went so far as to threaten to secede from the Union to show Jackson and the rest of America that individual state governments were indeed powerful. When the quarrel had reached its peak, Jackson had had enough and decided it was time to put an end to the crisis. The actions and decisions made by President Andrew Jackson in regards to John C. Calhoun and the Nullification Crisis not only enabled the Union to remain together, but proved the power of the federal government.Before reviewing Jackson's actions during the Nullification Crisis it is important to understand where the disagreements between the two men originated. In 1829, just shortly before Jackson was inaugurated, John Eaton, a friend and soon to be secretary of war under Jackson, married the widow and non-reputable Peggy O'Neale Timberlake. Because Timberlake was now the wife of a man in office, the other women would have to accept her as an equal, which they were not happy about. Jackson, however, refused to believe that the women were justified in their behavior, for he considered Peggy to be "chaste as a virgin" (Barzman 56). After Jackson ordered the wives of all of his associates to regard Mrs. Eaton as a social equal, they all complied except for one; Floride Calhoun, the wife of John C. Calhoun. Calhoun later claimed to Jackson he could not (or would not) change the mind of his strong willed wife. This enraged the newly elected President and began the tumultuous nature of the two men's relationship.The main aspect which fueled their poor relationship was their differences in political opinions. Although both men were from similar parts of the country and both were dedicated to the welfare of their home states, they disagreed on one very important area. Jackson was a nationalist, who believed strongly in preserving the Union and placing federal power over that of the individual states. Calhoun, on the other hand, was exactly the opposite. Although prior to 1830, he had been a nationalist, Calhoun was now...

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