Photo above: Independence Rock on the Oregon Trail. First mentioned by Parker in 1835, and carries an inscription on the
rock with the names of early trappers and explorers. Photo William H. Jackson, circa 1870. Right: Painting by Percy Moran, 1912, reflects the intensity of the battle of the Alamo. Photo courtesy Library of Congress.
U.S. Timeline - The 1830s
Conquering the West
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1832 - Detail
November 24, 1832 - South Carolina convention passed the Ordinance of Nullification, which was against the institution of permanent tariffs. The state also, on this issue, threatened to withdraw from the union of the United States of America.
The seeds had been sown in October 1828, long before the thought of a presidency by a Lincoln was even a glimmer. Lincoln was only nineteen years old at the time. They had been sown in a legislature that was beginning to tire of the federal government. South Carolina did not impulse into secession after the election of 1860, it had been planning it in some form even before the passage of the its Nullification Act. Their renegade relationship with Washington, D.C. over the next thirty years came to a head at Fort Sumter, but the timeline of that journey and the secession seed was firmly planted and planted deep over a six month period of time from November 1832 to March of the next year.
The Nullification Act Crises
South Carolina hated the Tariff Act of 1828, thinking it against the interests of the state and unconstitutional in construction. However, they had hope when Andrew Jackson was elected President, thinking that his position was to modify the onerous provision. Once Jackson signed the Tariff Act of 1832 in July, a compromise not significant enough for the South Carolina legislature, they decided to act. The Nullification Act was passed on November 24, 1832, stating that the previous tariff acts were unconstitional and unenforceable in the state after February 1, 1833. The state prepared its military, twenty-seven thousand strong, to protect themselves against the federal government. They stated that any act of force to collect the tariffs would lead to South Carolina seceding from the Union.
And South Carolina was serious about it, as noted in the inaugural address of its Governor, Robert Hayne, in 1833. "If the sacred soil of Carolina should be polluted by the footsteps of an invader, or be stained with the blood of her citizens, shed in defense, I trust in Almighty God that no son of hers ... who has been nourished at her bosom ... will be found raising a parricidal arm against our common mother. And even should she stand ALONE in this great struggle for constitutional liberty ... that there will not be found, in the wider limits of the state, one recreant son who will not fly to the rescue, and be ready to lay down his life in her defense."
South Carolina Ordinance of Nullification, Text
An ordinance to nullify certain acts of the Congress of the United States, purporting to be laws laying duties and imposts on the importation of foreign commodities.
Whereas the Congress of the United States by various acts, purporting to be acts laying duties and imposts on foreign imports, but in reality intended for the protection of domestic manufactures and the giving of bounties to classes and individuals engaged in particular employments, at the expense and to the injury and oppression of other classes and individuals, and by wholly exempting from taxation certain foreign commodities, such as are not produced or manufactured in the United States, to afford a pretext for imposing higher and excessive duties on articles similar to those intended to be protected, both exceeded its just powers under the constitution, which confers on it no authority to afford such protection, and both violated the true meaning and intent of the constitution, which provides for equality in imposing the burdens of taxation upon the several States and portions of the confederacy: And whereas the said Congress, exceeding its just power to impose taxes and collect revenue for the purpose of effecting and accomplishing the specific objects and purposes which the constitution of the United States authorizes it to effect and accomplish, hath raised and collected unnecessary revenue for objects unauthorized by the constitution.
We, therefore, the people of the State of South Carolina, in convention assembled, do declare and ordain and it is hereby declared and ordained, that the several acts and parts of acts of the Congress of the United States, purporting to be laws for the imposing of duties and imposts on the importation of foreign commodities, and now having actual operation and effect within the United States, and, more especially, an act entitled "An act in alteration of the several acts imposing duties on imports," approved on the nineteenth day of May, one thousand eight hundred and twenty-eight and also an act entitled "An act to alter and amend the several acts imposing duties on imports," approved on the fourteenth day of July, one thousand eight hundred and thirty-two, are unauthorized by the constitution of the United States, and violate the true meaning and intent thereof and are null, void, and no law, nor binding upon this State, its officers or citizens; and all promises, contracts, and obligations, made or entered into, or to be made or entered into, with purpose to secure the duties imposed by said acts, and all judicial proceedings which shall be hereafter had in affirmance thereof, are and shall be held utterly null and void.
And it is further ordained, that it shall not be lawful for any of the constituted authorities, whether of this State or of the United States, to enforce the payment of duties imposed by the said acts within the limits of this State; but it shall be the duty of the legislature to adopt such measures and pass such acts as may be necessary to give full effect to this ordinance, and to prevent the enforcement and arrest the operation of the said acts and parts of acts of the Congress of the United States within the limits of this State, from and after the first day of February next, and the duties of all other constituted authorities, and of all persons residing or being within the limits of this State, and they are hereby required and enjoined to obey and give effect to this ordinance, and such acts and measures of the legislature as may be passed or adopted in obedience thereto.
And it is further ordained, that in no case of law or equity, decided in the courts of this State, wherein shall be drawn in question the authority of this ordinance, or the validity of such act or acts of the legislature as may be passed for the purpose of giving effect thereto, or the validity of the aforesaid acts of Congress, imposing duties, shall any appeal be taken or allowed to the Supreme Court of the United States, nor shall any copy of the record be permitted or allowed for that purpose; and if any such appeal shall be attempted to be taken, the courts of this State shall proceed to execute and enforce their judgments according to the laws and usages of the State, without reference to such attempted appeal, and the person or persons attempting to take such appeal may be dealt with as for a contempt of the court.
And it is further ordained, that all persons now holding any office of honor, profit, or trust, civil or military, under this State (members of the legislature excepted), shall, within such time, and in such manner as the legislature shall prescribe, take an oath well and truly to obey, execute, and enforce this ordinance, and such act or acts of the legislature as may be passed in pursuance thereof, according to the true intent and meaning of the same, and on the neglect or omission of any such person or persons so to do, his or their office or offices shall be forthwith vacated, and shall be filled up as if such person or persons were dead or had resigned; and no person hereafter elected to any office of honor, profit, or trust, civil or military (members of the legislature excepted), shall, until the legislature shall otherwise provide and direct, enter on the execution of his office, or be he any respect competent to discharge the duties thereof until he shall, in like manner, have taken a similar oath; and no juror shall be impaneled in any of the courts of this State, in any cause in which shall be in question this ordinance, or any act of the legislature passed in pursuance thereof, unless he shall first, in addition to the usual oath, have taken an oath that he will well and truly obey, execute, and enforce this ordinance, and such act or acts of the legislature as may be passed to carry the same into operation and effect, according to the true intent and meaning thereof.
And we, the people of South Carolina, to the end that it may be fully understood by the government of the United States, and the people of the co-States, that we are determined to maintain this our ordinance and declaration, at every hazard, do further declare that we will not submit to the application of force on the part of the federal government, to reduce this State to obedience, but that we will consider the passage, by Congress, of any act authorizing the employment of a military or naval force against the State of South Carolina, her constitutional authorities or citizens; or any act abolishing or closing the ports of this State, or any of them, or otherwise obstructing the free ingress and egress of vessels to and from the said ports, or any other act on the part of the federal government, to coerce the State, shut up her ports, destroy or harass her commerce or to enforce the acts hereby declared to be null and void, otherwise than through the civil tribunals of the country, as inconsistent with the longer continuance of South Carolina in the Union; and that the people of this State will henceforth hold themselves absolved from all further obligation to maintain or preserve their political connection with the people of the other States; and will forthwith proceed to organize a separate government, and do all other acts and things which sovereign and independent States may of right do.
Done in convention at Columbia, the twenty-fourth day of November, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirty-two, and in the fifty-seventh year of the Declaration of the Independence of the United States of America.
The Federal Response
After the July passage of the Tariff Act of 1832, President Jackson watched as South Carolina began to foment their displeasure. He began to rotate troops into Charleston after rumors of subverting the army and navy surfaced. There were orders given to General Winfield Scott to prepare a naval force to head to South Carolina. After the Nullification Act passed, Jackson became even more serious, issuing a proclamation to the people of South Carolina on December 10, 1832.
"I consider, then, 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, unauthorized by its spirit, inconsistent with every principle on which It was founded, and destructive of the great object for which it was formed."
There would be further actions forthcoming as Congress began their 1833 sessions. South Carolina would be tested with an upcoming Force Act and assuaged with a Compromise Tariff Act, but all these actions almost thirty years prior to a Lincoln election could not stop the impetus that these motions from 1828 to 1833 had started, there would be Civil War, and South Carolina would lead the charge.
Photo above: Scene in two parts of the secession movements in South Carolina, 1832 with President Jackson standing strong for the Union and 1864 General McClellan shown as weak toward the south. Lithograph 1864 by Louis Prang and Company. Photo below: Lithograph of Fort Sumter. Images courtesy Library of Congress. Info Source: Wikipedia Commons; Yale Law School, The Avalon Project, Document of Law, History, and Diplomacy; Teachinghistory.org; Library of Congress. A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774 - 1875. Statutes at Large, 22nd Congress, 2nd Session.