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Jackson And The Nullification Crisis


Warrior_of_god
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In my US history course we're studying the nullification crisis and President Andrew Jackson's response. I was wondering if his response was too harsh and if what SC did was actually unconstitutional.

 

The tarriff on imported goods had been going up since about 1816 and it was hurting SC buisiness, which of course, was mainly agriculture. They imported goods and machines from Britian and the North. Well the tarrif went up again in 1832 and Jacksons Vice President, John C. Calhoun, wrote that South Carolina should declare the tarriff law null and void, that they should disagree with Congress. Jackson heard about this and he sent 8 naval vessels to Charleston harbor to suppliment federal forces. At the time SC decided to not listen to the law they also voted to build an army as Jackson and the federal government would almost definately use force. In fact congress passed the "force bill" to let Jackson use any means he thought would bring SC back into agreement with Congress.

 

This of course started a great debate about states rights. Does a state have the right to disagree with the federal government? Who was right? The hero of New Orleans, the Indian fighter, the great general Andrew Jackson or the state of South Carolina?

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My opinion, in US history, it's fine to look at issues in Jackson-Calhoun's time for the effect they had on THAT time. But we must remember that the Civil War turned everything on its ear...states' rights became a non-issue in the Lincolnesque view of the importance in his concept of American nationalism, and at the end of it the USA emerged as a country with a stronger and more authoritarian central government of a magnitude that would have been anathema prior to the war.

 

As I've heard it expressed many times, the US as it is now really began at Appomatox. A state may certainly disagree with the Federal government in modern times ("states'rights"), but the consequences of said disagreement can be devastating, financially and politically. What do you think would happen if the governor of your state suddenly declared that "no young citizen of (my state) shall be ordered to fight in Iraq"?

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What do you think would happen if the governor of your state suddenly declared that "no young citizen of (my state) shall be ordered to fight in Iraq"?

I'd think "Hooray, my governor has balls!"

 

But we must remember that the Civil War turned everything on its ear...states' rights became a non-issue in the Lincolnesque view of the importance in his concept of American nationalism...

Everything is always open to new interpretation. I'm not saying I'm one of those "My state against the Feds" type of person; state government can be just as oppressive as national government. I just mean that nothing is set in concrete if people decide otherwise.

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What do you think would happen if the governor of your state suddenly declared that "no young citizen of (my state) shall be ordered to fight in Iraq"?

It wouldnt be pretty.

 

But we must remember that the Civil War turned everything on its ear...states' rights became a non-issue in the Lincolnesque view of the importance in his concept of American nationalism...

True, however I believe he would have been smarter to keep states rights in mind. What jackson did was very heavy handed and akin to what Britian did when MA decided they didnt like the unfair taxes.

 

the US as it is now really began at Appomatox. A state may certainly disagree with the Federal government in modern times ("states' rights"), but the consequences of said disagreement can be devastating, financially and politically

Yes it did. However what your saying is that the feds can strong arm the state in question into doing anything they want really. I think a state can disagree with the government but the feds should not be so heavy handed. At what point does the preservation of the union become more important than the individual state and its rights?

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What do you think would happen if the governor of your state suddenly declared that "no young citizen of (my state) shall be ordered to fight in Iraq"?

It wouldnt be pretty.

 

But we must remember that the Civil War turned everything on its ear...states' rights became a non-issue in the Lincolnesque view of the importance in his concept of American nationalism...

True, however I believe he would have been smarter to keep states rights in mind. What jackson did was very heavy handed and akin to what Britian did when MA decided they didnt like the unfair taxes.

 

the US as it is now really began at Appomatox. A state may certainly disagree with the Federal government in modern times ("states' rights"), but the consequences of said disagreement can be devastating, financially and politically

Yes it did. However what your saying is that the feds can strong arm the state in question into doing anything they want really. I think a state can disagree with the government but the feds should not be so heavy handed. At what point does the preservation of the union become more important than the individual state and its rights?

 

Your governor theoretically may have balls, as EX-CoG said, but he/she wouldn't have them for long. Not when the Patriot Act was invoked, and the organs of the CIA, NSA, and Homeland Security began their machinations.

 

And yes, although states' rights still exist in theory, they are no longer relevant in practicality, as over the years Washington has become the dominant force over all the statehouses, due to its control of the economy. As an example, my state went up in arms over the federal decree that all private automobiles must be inspected for emissions controls. The protests from my state were ignored when the Feds announced that any resistance would be countered with a cutoff of Federal highway funding. Such a thing would have been untenable. Think of public education, and the heavy hand of the Feds in local school systems. Federal funding of education has become a necessity with state and local school boards, and the risk of the loss of those dollars in the interest of maintaining local control cannot be considered. The ever-enlarging monolithic, ever-more powerful Feds must be appeased.

 

In the end, one should ask...why are individual states even necessary any more? Wouldn't it be more economical to combine (merge) 50 states into, say, 5 districts? It would eliminate the expense of maintaining all those redundant states, counties, and departments, with all their bureacracies, laws, and regulations, since the Federal rules trump them all anyway.

 

Jeez, I'm scaring myself! :twitch: I hate it when I start to prophecy...

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Your governor theoretically may have balls, as EX-CoG said, but he/she wouldn't have them for long. Not when the Patriot Act was invoked, and the organs of the CIA, NSA, and Homeland Security began their machinations.

True. i think with all the recent happenings we have forgot who we are as a country and began to build something we were never intended to be in its place.

 

Think of public education, and the heavy hand of the Feds in local school systems.

The school district I left (Dudley Charlton) is 78% state funded.As with anything it comes down to dollars, money...perhaps humanity would be better off without things of value.

 

In the end, one should ask...why are individual states even necessary any more? Wouldn't it be more economical to combine (merge) 50 states into, say, 5 districts? It would eliminate the expense of maintaining all those redundant states, counties, and departments, with all their bureacracies, laws, and regulations, since the Federal rules trump them all anyway.

Yea I agrere but it wont happen. People can be feircly loyal to their states. We had a civil war partly because people were very loyal to their state. Even Lee said that he was a Virginian first.

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Yea I agrere but it wont happen. People can be feircly loyal to their states. We had a civil war partly because people were very loyal to their state. Even Lee said that he was a Virginian first.

It won't happen in my lifetime, certainly. But consider...people were indeed loyal to their states in Lee's time. We thought of ourselves as "Virginians" or "Pennsylvanians" or "Mississippians" before we thought of "Americans". By 1900, we were "Americans" foremost, and by the end of the two World Wars we were vastly different as a nation than at the start of the Civil War. Now imagine, if a President (not Bush) got on national TV, and announced that every family in America could reap an immediate gain in personal household income of 30% by simply voting "yes" on a proposal to do away with the 50 states and merge them into 5 districts...because mergers of states, just as mergers of corporations, save expenses through "economies of scale"...how do you think the vote would go? Do you think Americans would still hold to loyalty to their local states and counties? Or would the promise of greater personal wealth be sufficient for Americans to vote to destroy the present structure?

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It'd pass by a landslide.

 

Really, I'm with you. Loyalty to one's state is just stupid anymore. It might exist in particular cases like Utah or California, but by and large what state a person live(s/d) in is virtually meaningless.

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Consolidation of the states would be a good idea imo. One of the purposes of having the states was as a check and balance on the federal government. Nullification is an option, but with the feds controlling the purse strings and doling out the pork, the consequences would be devastating. With fewer, bigger (more powerful) states, they could have a better opportunity to buck the feds, which is exactly the reason no one inside the Beltway would dare even broach the subject. The state houses wouldn't be to thrilled about consolidation either except for the individuals that felt they might have a good chance to benefit by it.

 

State nullification, in any case, must still be based on the Constitution, and nullification was greatly limited by the 14th Amendment which says that no state can pass a law with negates the rights of citizens guaranteed by the Constitution. It was passed in order to prevent slavery which a state could still have had through nullification even though slavery had been abolished by the 13th Amendment.

 

Speaking of nullification, there is also the right of jury nullification, where the jury can judge the law rather than the defendant who they could find to be the victim of an unjust law. It rarely happens as a discrete jury action (as opposed to just rebelling against the system as in the OJ trial), due to ignorance by the jury and the judge's instruction to reach a verdict according to the law, but it is a legal option. It wouldn't change the law, but it would send a message--and release the specific defendant being tried.

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Or would the promise of greater personal wealth be sufficient for Americans to vote to destroy the present structure?

Something that deals with money and the prosepct of gaining more of it in western society? Hmm...yea I think it would pass by a landslide.

 

The whole nature of warfare is effectively to just wear down an opponent and not lose, you don't have to win the battle but just be more willing to fight than their opponents.

I agree. Thats one reason why the terrorists of today can cause such destruction and why this "War on terror" is a silly dream at best.

 

NO, the effective notion of states rights as the old south thought of them is a mute point and to dwell on it will only cause almost fundy like guilt and anxiety. I say we go forward and turn upside down the world as it is. Just my 2 cents...

Perhaps the world needs to be turned upside down. However i think for a lawmaker to float a bill to turn groups of states into districts would be his/her demise.

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