Part A: Plan of Investigation
I will investigate the question of whether the national tariff policy between 1816 and 1832 impacted the development and acceptance of the nullification doctrine in South Carolina? I will evaluate the national tariff policy during the early 1800's and analyze how these tariffs may have impacted the acceptance and support of nullification in South Carolina. I will examine the economic conditions of South Carolina during this period and compare these conditions with the development of nullification as a political tool. I will also review the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions to look at early examples of state sovereignty.
I will conduct internet research, review various books written at different times in history, review periodicals, including the Charleston Mercury, and review letters and speeches written by John C. Calhoun and Andrew Jackson during this period.
Part B: Summary of Evidence
Since the Constitution was ratified in 1787, the states have wrestled with the balance of power between the federal government and the individual states. As early as 1798 and 1799, the Kentucky and Virginia legislatures passed resolutions to oppose the Alien and Sedition Acts passed by Congress. While the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions did not use the word “nullification,” the resolutions challenged the power of the federal government.
After the War of 1812, cheaper British manufactured goods poured into American markets. In order to protect American “infant industries” from British competition, Congress passed a protective tariff in 1816. Proponents of the tariff reasoned that, without some protection, American would always be in the position of supplying raw materials (such as cotton) in return for finished foreign manufactured goods. South Carolinians supported this tariff with many state leaders expecting manufacturing to develop in the South as it had in other parts of the United States. FOOTNOTE
Until the 1820s, South Carolina was nationalistic. However, shortly after the passage of another tariff in 1824 favoring American manufacturing, the country experienced an economic downturn, and South Carolina’s economy was hit hard. Between 1825 and 1827, the price of cotton fell from 18.6 cents per pound to 9.3 cents per pound and the export measure for South Carolina exports fell by one half during the same period. John C. Calhoun considered the tariff as “one of the great instruments of our impoverishment and if persisted in must reduce us to poverty”. As South Carolina’s economy was adversely affected, its earlier nationalism began to fade.
In 1828, Congress passed the Tariff of 1828, which opponents called the "Tariff of Abominations." The Tariff of 1828 taxed numerous imports, which in turn had negative impact on goods that the various states wished to export. Because South Carolina’s economy depended heavily on exporting its agricultural goods, South Carolina’s economy was especially impacted....