The Nullification Controversy in South Carolina/Chapter 7


CHAPTER VII

JACKSON AND NULLIFICATION (1832-33)

The State Rights men had known for a year or more that the Union men were counting much on the sympathy of the President for their views. Yet there was uncertainty as to just what he would do when the real test should come. The relations of the two parties to the President had been made entirely clear in the presidential campaign. The State Rights men were so inimical to Jackson that they were accused even of being willing to support Adams in opposition to him.[1] Jackson's popularity, however, was so great that for some time they had to conceal much of their hostility to him.[2] The Union men alone took part in the Baltimore nominating convention, but their opponents, when the time came to cast the vote of the state, felt not at all bound by the work of the national convention, and cast the vote of the state for Floyd, governor of Virginia, and Lee, a Massachusetts free-trade advocate.[3] During September and October Jackson was kept informed of affairs in the state by letters from Joel R. Poinsett. This Union leader told the President that the Union men would firmly oppose nullification and adhere to their allegiance to the United States. He reminded Jackson, however, that allegiance implied protection, and that the Unionists relied upon the government to act with vigor in their behalf. The Nullifiers, he said, seemed to believe that no measures would be taken against them; he assumed otherwise, however, and recommended that the forts be supplied with muskets, hand grenades, and ammunition enough to enforce the customs laws if necessary.[4] Jackson soon recognized that a crisis was fast approaching in South Carolina. As early as September 11 he had sent word to the Secretary of the Navy that a confidential friend had "more than intimated" that efforts had been made by the Nullifiers, "and perhaps not without success," to disaffect some of the navy and army officers in command at Charleston, in order to get possession of the forts and thereby prevent a blockade. The Secretary of War was also warned to be sure that he had officers in Charleston who could not be corrupted by the Nullifiers, and on October 29 he was instructed to send secret orders to the officers commanding the forts in Charleston harbor to be prepared against a surprise attack "by any set of people."[5]

A few days later Jackson sent George Breathitt, brother of the governor of Kentucky, to Charleston in the guise of an agent for the Post-Office Department, but in reality as a military spy, to report on the ships in the harbor and the means of defense around Sullivan's Island and other strategic points. He was to endeavor to discover the intentions of the Nullifiers as to the collection of the duties, and to investigate reports Jackson had received from Union men in Charleston that there were several revenue officers who were expressing sympathy with the Nullifiers, and that the postmaster of Charleston, his deputy, and clerks were spies for the Nullifiers, opening communications passing between the administration and the Unionists. He was also, "by consultation with Colonel Drayton and Mr. Poinsett and other discreet friends of the Union," to obtain all such information as might aid the government in taking "timely steps towards the counteraction of the effort of the Nullifiers to render inoperative the laws of the Union."[6]

Instructions were sent on November 6 by the Secretary of the Treasury to the three collectors of the customs at Charleston, Georgetown, and Beaufort to be ready for any emergency. The various clauses of "an act to regulate the collection of duties on imports and tonnage," passed March 2, 1799, were quoted to remind them of their powers and duties. Revenue cutters were placed at their disposal, and they were empowered to provide as many boats and to employ as many inspectors as might be necessary for the execution of the law. In view of the likelihood of an attempt to take goods from the custody of the officers of the customs under process issuing from the state courts, the Secretary of the Treasury also wrote on November 19 to remind the United States district attorney at Charleston that in the case of Slocum v. Mayberry the Supreme Court had decided that the courts of the United States had exclusive jurisdiction over all seizures made on land or water for a breach of the laws of the United States, and that any intervention of a state authority, which, by taking the thing seized out of the hands of the United States officer, might obstruct the exercise of this jurisdiction, was unlawful.[7]

When the President sent his military spy to Charleston he privately expressed great astonishment that the people of South Carolina "should be so far deluded by the wild theory and sophistry of a few ambitious demagogues as to place themselves in the attitude of rebellion against their government, and become the destroyers of their own prosperity and liberty." There appeared to him in all their proceedings nothing but madness and folly. "The duty of the Executive," he said, "is a plain one; the laws will be executed and the Union preserved by all the constitutional and legal means he is invested with, and I rely with great confidence on the support of every honest patriot in South Carolina who really loves his country and the prosperity and happiness we enjoy under our happy and peaceful republican government."[8]

The President thereafter kept in close touch with the leader of the Union party, Joel R. Poinsett, who, in the middle of November, wrote of his belief that a majority of the leaders of the Nullifiers^ "political club" would favor secession in case of an attempt by the government to coerce the state, and that even though many of the party would be opposed to such a course, the leaders could secure its adoption. "It is believed," he said, "that Mr. Calhoun is against this measure and insists that the state may be in and out of the Union at the same time and that the government has no right to cause the laws to be executed in South Carolina. Both parties are anxious and indulge the hope that the government will commit some act of violence which will enlist the sympathies of the bordering states." Poinsett recommended caution, and urged especially that the Nullifiers be allowed to commit the first act of violence.[9] As a precautionary measure the President early sent five thousand stand of muskets to Castle Pinckney with the promise that a sloop of war and a smaller armed vessel should reach Charleston harbor in due time. The commanding officer of Castle Pinckney was to be instructed to deliver the arms, ordnance, and other equipment to the order of Poinsett as the occasion should demand and as they could be spared from the arsenal. The President interpreted nullification to mean insurrection and war; he felt that the other states had a right to put it down and that all the "peaceable citizens" of South Carolina had a right to aid in the same patriotic effort when summoned in support of the violated laws of the land. He placed much confidence in the Union party of South Carolina, acting with Poinsett, and was anxious to furnish all means in his power to these patriots to save the state.[10] On December 9 Jackson issued his famous proclamation in answer to the stand taken by South Carolina. It gave clearly his "views of the treasonable conduct of the convention and the governor's recommendation to the assembly." The whole situation, and particularly "the act of raising troops," was regarded as "not merely rebellion, but....positive treason." The absurdity of the situation he believed was too glaring to admit of argument, and he hoped that his proclamation, which he addressed to the good people of South Carolina "with the feeling of a father," would "take the scales of delusion from their eyes before....too late."[11] All the members of Congress with whom he conversed assured him that Congress would sustain him; he determined, therefore, to meet the menace at the threshold and to have the leaders arrested and arraigned for treason. He tried to encourage the Union leaders by assuring them that in forty days he could have fifty thousand men within the limits of South Carolina, and. in forty days more another fifty thousand. "How impotent," he wrote, is "the threat of resistance with only a population of 250,000 whites and nearly double that in blacks, with our ships in the port to aid in the execution of our laws. The wickedness, madness, and folly of the leaders and the delusion of their followers, in the attempt to destroy themselves and our Union, has not its parallel in the history of the world. The Union will be preserved."[12]

The President's proclamation was printed by the Union leaders in large editions to circulate throughout the districts. It would serve to give courage to the Union men and might convince others of the error of their ways.[13] In no uncertain terms the President declared that he considered "the power to annul a law of the United States, assumed by one state, incompatible with the existence of the Union, contradicted expressly by the letter of the Constitution, unauthorised by its spirit, inconsistent with every principle on which it was founded, and destructive of the great object for which it was formed."[14] The object of the Nullifiers, he set forth, was disunion; "but," he added, "be not deceived by names; disunion, by armed force, is treason....The laws of the United States must be executed."

The President's message, which had appeared in print a few days before the proclamation, received no little praise from the pens of the State Rights editors because of its sound doctrines on the tariff.[15] At that time the intentions of those in power were not fully known; but the proclamation left no doubt. It was hailed as a declaration of war by the President against South Carolina.[16] When contrasted with the message of a few days before, it seemed to show that "this unhappy old man" had been induced by his advisers to arrogate the power to coerce a state of the confederacy; to issue the decree of a dictator, which time would prove whether he dared or could enforce; to attempt to intimidate the Whigs[17] of South Carolina by threats; and to encourage and foment insurrection and violence on the part of the internal enemies of the state. The State Rights men believed that the proclamation went the whole length of the doctrine of consolidation, not only assuming for the federal government the right to judge of its own powers, but arrogating this right to its full extent on behalf of the executive department. Accordingly, they greeted the document with indignation and defiance.

The Union men believed that their opponents were pouring their bitterness upon the chief magistrate because the proclamation had come like a thunderbolt to the leaders of their party. They had had no expectation that their manifesto of war against the general government would be met by such a counter-manifesto. It put to flight all their solemn asseverations of the peaceableness of their remedy, for it told them that resistance to the laws would be put down by the power with which Congress had armed the federal executive to punish treason.[18] The Nullifiers were not at a loss for a reply, such as it was, to the taunt of the failure of their remedy as a peaceable one. They felt satisfied to say that the blame for such failure lay entirely with the President and the Union party, because they would not permit the Nullifiers to carry out all their plans as had been intended.[19]

In Virginia the proclamation had a marked effect. When the assembly met, shortly before the proclamation was issued, the factions within the Democratic party seemed to have united permanently, for W. C. Rives, an ardent administration man, was elected almost unanimously to the United States Senate to succeed John Tyler. After the proclamation, however, there appeared a Union party and a State Rights party, composed chiefly of representatives of the western and eastern sections, respectively. The latter had control of the assembly by about ten votes. They passed resolutions praising South Carolina's resistance but deploring her methods, denouncing the proclamation, and recommending a general convention in case Congress should not reduce the tariff; they sent a commissioner to South Carolina recoromending less speedy action, and finished their work by returning John Tyler to the United States Senate when L. W. Tazewell resigned; Tyler sympathized with nullification and cast the only vote in the Senate against the force bill. But even this was far short of what the South Carolina Nullifiers had wanted.[20]

The sudden resignation of Tazewell, "connected with other signs of the times," caused Jackson to fear that some secret plan, was being hatched in Virginia. Just before the issue of his proclamation he had received from Virginia an expression of hope that he would not be too severe with South Carolina. After the Virginia action following the proclamation, Jackson asserted that he had been "aware of the combination between them and Calhoun & Co.," and that the South Carolina leaders had been in great haste in order to get their "rebellious ordinance,....nullifying doctrine, and rights of secession" sustained by the Virginia legislature. By the middle of January, however, the President was confident that Virginia, excepting a few Nullifiers and politicians, was true to the core, and that he could march forty thousand men from that state in forty days. He was then, indeed, without doubt that he could get many times the troops needed, not simply from "good old Democratic Pennsylvania," but from Tennessee, North Carolina, and all the western states. Although the New York legislature, because of political fears, disappointed him by its silence, he was assured that the people and the press were with him.[21] Virginians were not alone in their criticism of the doctrines contained in the proclamation. Some men of other states, most of them in sympathy with the President, believed that the document would have been a better one without the "speculative arguments and fallacious opinions about the origin of the confederation." C. C. Cambreleng, of New York, wrote from Washington:

We have those here who are now and then Republicans from policy but not one in principle—except the chief of all. This will account to you for the broad errors in doctrine on some of the fundamental principles of the Constitution, which ornament the proclamation, and call forth the unbounded approbation of every ultra federalist....It was a glorious opportunity to reach every man in the nation but a nullifier....[and]....had the proclamation been as empty and inflated as a balloon, sentiment would have carried it through the Union with applause.

A "general and happy effect" might have been made "universal" "had the metaphysics of the Montesquieu of the cabinet been cut out of it."[22] In Columbia the proclamation was received with the deepest indignation, and the legislature, still in session, immediately asked the governor to issue a counter-proclamation to warn the people of South Carolina against that of the President and exhort them to remain true to the state. Robert Y. Hayne had been elected governor and had taken the new oath prescribed for that officer, that he would "well and truly keep and enforce the ordinance of the state and such laws as may be passed in obedience thereto." He immediately issued his counter-proclamation, which began by calling upon the people to be on their guard against the "dangerous and pernicious" doctrines contained in the President's proclamation, and concluded with a command for them to support at all hazards the dignity and liberties of the state.[23] It was an ably written and strong paper, but the Union men could see no merit even in its literary composition. They ridiculed it as the height of madness, caused by an inflated sense of power.[24] As for the ordinance of nullification, the Union men asserted that they were somewhat at a loss what classification to give to that "mad edict of a despotic majority"; whether it was to be

Nullification Controversy in South Carolina - Map VII.—House vote on governor's counter-proclamation, and Union vote in Convention, 1832.png

Map VII.—House vote on governor's counter-proclamation, and Union vote in Convention, 1832.

considered as incorporated within the constitution of the state, as an act of legislation to be recorded

in the statute books, or as a judicial decision to take its place in the next volume of law reports, they could not tell; this nondescript measure seemed to be an odd and incongruous jumble of

Nullification Controversy in South Carolina - Map VIII.—House vote on the test oath, 1832.png

Map VIII.—House vote on the test oath, 1832

the three, put together in utter disregard of reason and right; some said, indeed, that it was an exertion of lawless power which should be put down by the constituted authorities of the state or prostrated by the potent rebuke of popular opinion.[25]

The Union men called a second convention of the party, which began its sessions in Columbia on December 10, while the legislature was still sitting. There appeared to be two factions at first: the conservatives, who favored moderation, and the radicals, who thought that the "tyranny and oppression of the dominant party, the disgrace of the test oath, and the horrors of disunion" should be "fiercely combatted." All were soon won over to the belief that there should be no flinching. A plan was recommended for organizing the Union men of the state into "Washington Societies," for self-defense and protection; there as to be a central society in each district, with as many branches as possible in the local neighborhoods. In case of emergency these societies were to become military companies. Poinsett was made commander-in-chief, with division officers in different parts of the state, and Colonel Robert Cunningham was appointed for the upper divisions of the state. Joel R. Poinsett made it clear to the convention that President Jackson indorsed his plans,[26] and when James O. Hanlon read part of a letter from Jackson to the convention in secret session, it seemed to inspire great courage, for "some cried out 'enough!' 'what have we to fear; we are right and God and Old Hickory are with us.'"[27]

This Union convention of about 180 delegates adopted an official protest against the ordinance of nullification. It reviewed the objections to the doctrine of nullification and denounced the ordinance as contrary to both the national and the state constitutions, and with special vigor decried the test oath, which would keep out of office all Union men who would not perjure themselves. It declared that as regarded the Union party the ordinance "betrayed all the features of an odious tyranny" and that its progress would be as fatal to liberty as it was to the federal Constitution. But one more step of the dominant party, it said, was wanting to put the 17,000 friends of the Union, so far as the state authorities were concerned, entirely out of the protection of the law. In regard to their own program, the Union men declared they would maintain a peaceable, inactive position as long as possible, asserting their rights by all legal and constitutional means; but if crossed in this by an attempt to enforce the "unconstitutional and tyrannically oppressive" parts of the ordinance, they would feel bound to answer the call to resistance, issued by an "intolerable oppression," and should they be forced to draw the sword, it would be wielded in defense of the Union.[28]

The President's proclamation proved a conundrum to the State Rights men in many ways. Some believed that it would overawe many of the less ardent in the state, and they therefore made much of Governor Hayne's counter-proclamation.[29] Many doubted that Jackson had intended more than to frighten South Carolina and felt that perhaps his appeal to Congress for more power was simply to furnish a means of retreat when Congress should have repealed the tariff and yielded to South Carolina. A majority of the leaders, however, felt that immediate military preparation was necessary, and many men eagerly aided the governor in his attempts to get a force ready for the field in the shortest time possible.[30] After the middle of December Governor Hayne's office was transformed from that of an executive to that of a commander-in-chief. "General Orders" were issued from "Head Quarters," on December 20, 1832, that in accordance with a recent act of the legislature the services of patriotic citizens as volunteers would be accepted, "either individually or by companies, troops, battalions, divisions, or regiments, of artillery, cavalry, or riflemen." The governor on the same day selected prominent State Rights leaders in each district and commissioned them in due form as aides-de-camp charged with military duties in their respective districts. They were directed to inspect volunteer companies and to receive and give information, and were supplied with blank commissions to issue to the officers of such companies as were raised or accepted from those already in existence. They were requested to make full and frequent reports to the governor's headquarters at Charleston.[31]

The general plans of the governor, as outlined in a printed circular sent to all the aides-de-camp as district organizers,[32] announced that he wanted to raise a volunteer force not short of 10,000 men. Measures were taken to procure an ample supply of arms of various descriptions to be distributed as soon as secured, and arrangements were made for the distribution of books on tactics to infantry and cavalry companies. In this circular letter, after making general explanations of the duties of the district aides-de-camp, the governor outlined a plan of "The Most Important Nature." He said:

The volunteer corps above alluded to are intended to be called out by companies, battalions, or regiments, but a sudden emergency may arise when men may be wanted at a given point before such corps can be prepared and marched to it. I deem it indispensable, therefore, that a body of Mounted Minute Men should be always prepared to proceed in the shortest time possible to any place which may be designated, to be kept on duty for a few days or a few weeks, until more regularly organized corps shall be brought into the field. My plan is this. Let a number of men, every one of whom keeps a horse, agree to repair at a moment's warning to any point which may be designated by the governor in any emergency. Let them then come prepared with guns or rifles, or arms of any description, with a supply of powder and ball, and come in the shortest time possible. If in each district only one hundred such men could be secured, we would have the means of throwing 2,500 of the é1ite of the whole state upon a given point in three or four days. And by no other means could this be effected....

To execute this plan, it may be well to select ten influential men in various parts of your district, to be called leaders; bring them fully into the scheme, and let each of them engage ten men as their quota. When the notice is given to you, that the minute men are wanted, you will instantly inform the leaders and get them to extend the notice to their respective squads....Have one or more expresses always at your command and bear in mind that you will be held responsible for the speedy and certain extension and prompt execution of all orders. If you need assistance say so, for no excuse will be received for any failure, when your services are required I wish you to see personally each of the colonels and learn everything within your district; the temper of the men; the state of their arms; whether those out of order can be repaired in your neighborhood; and what supplies exist of field-pieces, muskets, rifles, lead, etc., and generally everything, which it is important for me to know; all of which may be embraced in a confidential report.

The district organizers soon enlisted a number of men as sub-organizers, who distributed circulars in which appeared the governor's call for volunteers, and did all they could personally to induce the people to enlist. These men kept the district commander informed as to local sentiment. From some quarters came reports that Jackson's proclamation, aided by the activity of the Union men, had done much harm, for the people seemed to think that the President could do all he had threatened, and they regarded him as in fact "the Ali Pasha of the United States." From such quarters came the advice that the district organizer himself should appear and renew the spirits of the people.[33] From other quaiters came more cheerful news.[34] Some of the State Rights leaders seemed to think that all that was needed was for the people of the state to show a proper spirit, and force would not be used; but if they faltered, a little blood would be spilled to complete the panic.[35] The Union men were "openly threatened with every kind of violence," and in a district where their number was small they were told that they must not assemble togther, for such action would be considered "treason and rebellion" against the sovereignty of the state.[36]

Meantime, Jackson had been waiting for information that the South Carolina assembly had passed laws for raising an army to resist the execution of the United States laws. This he

would interpret to be "a levying of war" and he would ask Congress—

for the power to call upon volunteers to serve as the posse comitatus of the civil authority, to open our courts which they have shut, direct process to be issued against the leaders, direct them to be prosecuted for treason, have them arrested wheresoever to be found, delivered over to the authority of the law, to be prosecuted, convicted, and punished. If the assembly authorises twelve thousand

men to resist the law, I will order thirty thousand to execute the law. To this I may add the request for the custom house to be removed to Castle Pinckney on Sullivan's Island, and the power in the Secretary of the Treasury to demand the payment of duties in cash, deducting the interests, from all vessels entering a port where the states may have enacted laws to resist the payment of the duty.[37]

By the end of December the President was feeling even more bitterly on the subject. He wrote:

This abominable doctrine, that strikes at the root of our government and the social compact, and reduces everything to anarchy, must be met and put down or our Union is gone, and our liberties with it forever. The true Republican doctrine is, that the people are the sovereign power, that they have the right to establish such form of government [as] they please, and we must look into the Constitution, which they have established, for the powers expressly granted, the balance being retained to the people and the states; When we look into the [Articles of] Confederation of the thirteen United States of America, we find there a perpetual union; and that it might last forever, we find the express power granted to Congress to settle all disputes that may arise between the states. What next—we find upon experience that this perpetual union and confederation is not perfect. On this discovery, "We the people of these United States," "to form a more perfect union" etc., etc., do ordain and establish this Constitution as the supreme law of the land. When we look into the instrument we can find no reserved right to nullify or secede; but we find a positive provision how it is to be altered or amended. These must be adopted or it must be changed by revolution. When this is attempted by a state, a perfect right remains in the other states and the people, if they have the power, to coerce them to obey the laws and preserve their moral obligations to the other. Let us remark one absurdity out of thousands that could be named. Congress have power to admit new states into the Union; under territorial governments these [are] bound by the laws of the Union; new states cannot force themselves into the Union; but the moment they are admitted, they have a right to secede and destroy the confederation and the Union with it. The Virginia doctrine brings me in mind of a bag of sand with both ends opened; the moment the least pressure is upon it, the sand flows out at each end. The absurdity is too great to be dwelt on. The people of Virginia are sound. The Union will be preserved and traitors punished, by a due execution of the laws, by the posse comitatus.[38]

Letters of this character worried Van Buren. He feared that Jackson, too impulsive by nature, might lessen the chances of an amicable adjustment. He therefore, as on many another occasion, advised caution. He urged especially that, in view of the fact that the doctrine of a "constructive levying of war" was "justly unpopular in this country," the President should hesitate to pronounce as treason the mere passage of bills, and should ask Congress for the power to employ military force only if it was indispensable to the due execution of the laws.[39]

While Jackson was thinking so much about meeting at the threshold any danger to the Union, Van Buren and the great majority of those with whom the President was in correspondence seem to have been thinking much more of the political phases of the issue. Although Jackson himself thought occasionally of the influence of the Nullifiers upon the elections, it was far from uppermost in his mind. During the fall of 1832 he felt confident that they could do little harm to him or Van Buren outside of South Carolina. To Amos Kendall it appeared at first that the issue would have the happy political effect of uniting with the friends of the administration all parties in the northern, middle, and western states and a large portion of the South, including even many of the National Republicans. But upon second thought he agreed with Van Buren that they must neither court the Nationals nor meet their advances. Webster and Calhoun must be kept at arm's length on either side.[40]

They must be on their guard against Clay also, and with this in view as well as for the purpose of quieting South Carolina and preventing the spread of sentiment in favor of a southern convention, the tariff must be reduced in 1833 to prevent "Clay and his satellites" from having about six millions of surplus revenue to deal out for internal improvements at the long session of 1833-34, when all the surplus in the treasury would become a bribery fund for debauching the states and buying presidential votes. Indeed, Van Buren and the New York delegation in the House of Representatives might win increased popularity by having the tariff reduction come under their auspices.[41]

The combined influence of the "Triumvirs," Clay, Calhotm, and Webster, was much to be feared, if such a strange combination were really formed against the administration. Their cue seemed to be to refuse to reduce the tariff and lay the blame on Van Buren, or reduce it and secure the credit for themselves. It was early seen that when the danger of a disruption of the government should become imminent, Clay would endeavor to step forward as the mediator, the great pacificator, and secure the presidency as his reward. At all events New York was to be deprived of the credit for an adjustment. In spite of such fears in many quarters. Van Buren believed that if any adjustment of the tariff were made at the existing session of Congress, no large share of the credit for it would be given to Clay and Calhoun.[42]

    meet and establish upon sight that sympathy which should exist between men devoted to the same glorious cause. Let me recommend this measure to you and also that as soon as there is a company organized in your neighborhood you inform me or some other friend here of the fact, with names of the officers, that we may devise a system of correspondence and union, which will establish a community of feeling and action amongst us. In the meantime do write me of the movements and the state of feeling in your quarter." On the same day, December 31, 1832, Captain E. H. Maxcy in Columbia issued company orders to the Richland Volunteer Rifle Company "to hold themselves in readiness to march, at a minute's warning, and without delay, to any point in the State which may be designated by the proper authority, to perform such military service, in defence of the State, as may be required. Each member will forthwith put his rifle and accoutrements in complete order, furnish himself with a sufficient quantity of powder and ball, a coarse homespun knapsack with a blanket, and the requisite change of clothing. Upon being notified, each man will promptly repair to the Town Hall, to be mustered into service at the minute designated. Upon the reception of marching orders, a fieldpiece will be fired five times in succession as a signal for assembling." The company was ordered to report on Saturday morning, January 5, 1833, "for drill and target firing" (23d Congress, 2d session, House Document No. 45, p. 112)

    affairs for taking the field at an early day, not to qtiit it until all is settled. "In this part of the country the people are very ignorant and have been heretofore rather inclined to the Union party, but if you think I can be best employed in recruiting volunteers I will set about raising a company as soon as I receive your instructions as to the time and place [you] will want them, and whether you can furnish arms, etc., and will endeavor to have them ready for service in due time. I have however no choice of employment, so far as I am concerned....I take it for granted that you will concentrate a large force in Charleston to meet the emergency. Permit me again with much humility to suggest that that concentration be effected silently and without parade; we have already done enough to alarm the more timid of our friends and to afford apparent grounds of justification for the mad counsels of the President. At the same time care should be taken to have the force strong enough to annihilate instantaneously the first show of resistance to our laws, and give to treason as well as tyranny so signal and severe a rebuke that they will not recover from it soon."

  1. Mountaineer, January 28, 1832. The accusation was based on a suggestion made by the Post.
  2. Journal, January 28, 1833. Calhoun Correspondence: Calhoun to S. L. Gouverneur, February 13.
  3. Presidential electors were chosen by the legislature in South Carolina. See Messenger, December 12, 1832; Journal, December 15.
  4. Jackson Papers: Poinsett to Jackson, October 16, 1832.
  5. Jackson Papers: Jackson to Levi Woodbury, September 11, 1832; Jackson to the Secretary of War, October 29.
  6. Poinsett Papers: Jackson to Poinsett, November 7, 1832; Jackson Papers: Instructions to Breathitt, November 7.
  7. 22d Congress, 2d session, House Document No. 45, pp. 92-99; 2d Wheaton, p. I.
  8. Poinsett Papers: Jackson to Poinsett, November 7, 1832.
  9. Jackson Papers: Poinsett to Jackson, November 16, 29, 1832.
  10. Poinsett Papers: Jackson to Poinsett, December 2, 9, 1832; Department of War to Poinsett, December 7; Van Buren Papers: Jackson to Van Buren, October 23. One Union man in Calhoun's own section assured Jackson that he intended to start a movement in the Union party to secure the impeachment of Calhoun, and asked that all his former letters to the President be preserved for evidence of the impression produced in his district by the attempts of Calhoun to excite the people to resist the operation of the laws (Jackson Papers: Dr. E. S. Davis tɔ Jackson, November 22, 1832). Still another Unionist wrote from Columbia that he was "almost sick" of his native state, "or rather those who rule it....Everything has become rotten. Even those who call themselves Union men have acted foolish, Ay—like babies. I have almost determined to wash my hands of the whole of them and look for another home. I would freely die to redeem the state from the blind infatuation under which she labors, but a thousand lives would not do it, unless Calhoun & Co. were included in the number. Never did a sick patient want bleeding worse than some of our Nullies do." He then told of the military preparations of the Nullifiers to effect their "peaceful remedy" (Jackson Papers: James O. Hanlon to Jackson, November 30, 1832).
  11. Poinsett Papers: Jackson to Poinsett, December 9, 1832; Jackson Papers: Jackson to Poinsett, December 9.
  12. Poinsett Papers: Jackson to Poinsett, December 9, 1832.
  13. Poinsett Papers: Chapman Levy to Poinsett, December 22, 1832.
  14. Richardson, Messages and Papers of the Presidents, II, 643.
  15. Mercury, December 10, 1832; Messenger, December 19.
  16. Mercury, December 17, 1832; Messenger, December 26.
  17. The Nullifiers seem to have assumed the name of Whigs and applied that of Tories to the Union men. Duff Green, the editor of the Washington Telegraph, referred to James Blair, congressman from South Carolina, and his party as Tories, whereupon Blair made an assault upon Green and quite seriously disabled him (Niles' Register, December 29, 1832). The editor of the Mercury denounced Blair for his attack and tried to show that the use of the term "Tory" was justifiable, not merely in its qualified English sense, but in its worst American sense, when applied to any who would side with the general government against South Carolina (Mercury, January 1, 1833).
  18. Patriot, December 18, 1832.
  19. Mercury, December 7, 29, 1832.
  20. Charles H. Ambler, Thomas Ritchie, chap. v; also his Sectionalism in Virginia from 1776 to 1861, chap, vi; Jackson Papers: Poinsett to Jackson, January 7, 1833.
  21. Van Buren Papers: Jackson to Van Buren, November 18, December 23, 1832; January 13, 25, 1833; Jackson Papers: John Randolph to Jackson, December 6, 1832; Jackson to Van Buren, January 25, 1833; James A. Hamilton to Jackson, New York, January 32, 1833. When James Hamilton, Jr., of South Carolina, visited Augusta in January, Jackson believed that it was in behalf of nullification; it was alleged that when the steamboat with Hamilton on board got a short distance from the wharf at Augusta the tricolored flag of South Carolina was raised on the boat and that the American Jack reversed was placed under it. When he heard of this Jackson said: "For this indignity to the flag of the country she ought to have been instantly sunk, no matter who owned or commanded her" (Van Buren Papers: Silas Wright, Jr., to Van Buren, January 13, 1833).
  22. Van Buren Papers: C. C. Cambreleng to Van Buren, December 18, 1832. In another letter between December 10 and 18 Cambreleng said: "Luckily the people do not see what lawyers do; they don't care how the Union was formed nor are they anxious to be instructed how a state can get out of it—they have more sense than the bar." See also Van Buren to Jackson, December 27. The "Montesquieu of the cabinet" was probably Edward Livingston, Secretary of State.
  23. Mercury, December 22, 1832; Niles' Register, December 22.
  24. Gazette, December 22, 1832 . The Union men published a parody on it, beginning thus: "By virtue of that palpable absurdity which has grown out of the numerous 'conjunctures' with which it has been our fate to be afflicted, that as a sovereign state the Free Trade Association 'has the inherent power to do all those acts which by the law of nations any prince or potentate may of right do, Governor Hayne has issued a proclamation counter to the one lately put forth by the President...."

    The accompanying maps (VII and VIII) show those districts whose delegates and representatives opposed the projects of the Nullifiers. See p. 107, n. 3.

  25. Courier, November 29, 1832. Perry Collection, Vol. IX, letter by Thomas S. Grimké to the People of South Carolina, December 1, 1832.
  26. Benjamin F. Perry, Reminiscences and Speeches.
  27. Jackson Papers: James O. Hanlon to Jackson, December 20, 1832.
  28. Courier, December 21, 1832; Mountaineer, December 22. Perry Collection. Vol. IX, "Report of the Union Convention with Their Remonstrance and Protest"; Perry Collection, Vol. IX, letter to the Union party of South Carolina, by Randell Hunt, January 2, 1833. That the Union men were greatly stirred by the test oath was abundantly testified by such utterances as the following hy Thomas Grimké: "As though in mockery of the very name of judge and trial and jury as hitherto understood, they have bound the judge and jury to disregard the constitutions, law, and evidence, and to decide according to a fixed paramount rule. I envy not the judge or juryman who is fit to be their instrument. Were I a judge or juryman, before I would pollute my soul and defile my lips with such an oath, this right hand should be struck off as a cockade for the cap of a dictator, or a sign-board to point the way to the gibbett" (Gazette, December 15, 1832).
  29. James O. Hanlon wrote from Columbia to Jackson, on December 20, 1832ː "I find much excitement among the Nullies both in and out of the legislature. Your able and patriotic proclamation has almost given some of the Cholera, and it would not show well for them to let it pass in silence" (Jackson Papers).
  30. The following letter was written by a man who had been a prominent editor of the state, but who was then a planter in Barnwell district, and who for many years was looked to, by many in the state, as a man whose political judgment was worth much (Hammond Papers: Hammond to Governor Hayne, December 20, 1832): "General Jackson's extraordinary proclamation has just reached me. It is the black cockade Federalism of '98 renewed, fearfully invigorated by its long sleep, and seems destined to bring about another reign of terror. Based as it is upon the notoriously false assumption that South Carolina intends to resist the laws of Congress with the bayonet, the spirit of it, to every intelligent mind, is as ridiculous as its arguments are absurd. But there is so much ignorance and passion in the country that both are dangerous at this crisis, and must be met promptly, firmly, and efficiently. To aid this purpose permit me to tender you my services in any way that you can make them most useful. I do not seek from you any post of distinction, not only because I can have no claims to it, but because at this moment every man must do his duty to his country without reference to himself. I will undertake any service you desire, and repair at an instant's warning to any point and for any purpose you will designate. I shall immediately set about arranging my private
  31. Hammond Papers: commission from Governor Hayne to Colonel James H. Hammond, December 20, 1832; letter from Hayne to Hammond, December 21.
  32. The one sent to Hammond and marked "(Confidential)" in Hayne's handwriting is in the Hammond Papers, dated December 26. 1832.
  33. Hammond Papers: S. H. Butler to Hammond, December 27, 1832.
  34. Hammond Papers: S. R. Cannon to Hammond, December 28, 1832: "....the President's proclamation has been the cause of making us more Indignant towards him than before, we have commenced Raising a volunteer corps of Rifle men and will holde an Election for Officers in few days....we are all nullifyers in this Section and the General fealing amongst us that will Put us in Readiness at a moments warning...."
  35. Hammond Papers: S. H. Butler to Hammond, December 27, 1832: William C. Preston to Hammond, December 31. Preston, a prominent leader, wrote from Columbia to Hammond on the last day of the year that he was much pleased with the effect the proclamation was having both in and out of the state, for party lines were being clearly drawn. "Thank God," he wrote, "we are again Federalists and Republicans. In Virginia especially the proclamation has wakened the people from their trance, and they are holding meetings in the counties, with the rallying cry of '98....My private advices are of the most cheering character; they assure me that whatever the legislature may do, it will be believed the temper of the people. They tell me that it is only necessary for us to present a determined front, and all will be well. We have compelled a more rapid course of thought than twenty years of discussion would have produced. We have shaken the tariff system more than a thousand remonstrances and petitions and protests. Their columns are giving way, there is confusion in their lines; and if we are now true to ourselves, they will be scattered to the winds. The vigorous proceedings of our constituted authorities has struck terror into our oppressors, and the spirit of the people bursting out in all quarters has written their destiny on the wall in characters too plain to require a Daniel for their interpretation. "In this quarter the public enthusiasm is more intense than my best hopes could have anticipated. Everybody is volunteering—old and young, the parent and his sons, rich and poor are found in the ranks shoulder to shoulder. Even the ministers of the gospel have turned soldiers The town begins to resemble a military encampment. An equal enthusiasm, it is said, pervades Fairfield; there they will volunteer by regiments. Lexington will give an organized battalion. The tyrant will find us ready and dare not strike. Our decided front will secure us at once peace and victory. The volunteer roll will decide the contest. We have agreed here for the sake of distinction, every volunteer shall wear at all times a small blue cockade upon his hat, that we. may know each other when we
  36. Jackson Papers: James O. Hanlon to Jackson, December 20, 1832.
  37. Van Buren Papers: Jackson to Van Buren, December 15, 1832.
  38. 'Van Buren Papers: Jackson to Van Buren, December 23, 1832. On December 25 he wrote again in much the same manner to Van Buren.
  39. Van Buren Papers: Van Buren to Jackson, December 27, 1832.
  40. Van Buren Papers: Jackson to Van Buren, August 30, October, 23, 1832; Amos Kendall to Van Buren, November 2, 10.
  41. Van Buren Papers: Thomas H. Benton to Van Buren, December 16, 1832.
  42. Van Buren Papers: Michael Hoffman to Van Buren, December 19, 1832; January 4, 1833; Hoffman to A. C. Flagg, January 4; M. Dickerson to Van Buren, January 11; Cambreleng to Van Buren, February 5; Van Buren to Jackson, February 20; Jackson Papers: W. R. King to Van Buren, January 9.