History Timeline 1830s

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.

U.S. Timeline - The 1830s

1830-1839
Conquering the West

  • Impossible to conquer, yet with the intrepid spirit of the mountain men, miners, and pioneers, they would begin an earnest try as the nation moved, in its first real phase, from east to west.

  • To the 1840s


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  • 1833 - Detail

    March 1, 1833 - The United States Congress passed a compromise tariff act in response to South Carolina's objections. The state of South Carolina subsequently withdrew the Nullification Ordinance upon its approval.

    March 2, 1833 - The Force Bill is signed by President Andrew Jackson, which would authorize him to use troops to enforce Federal law in South Carolina, if necessary.

    South Carolina and Secession


    The seeds had been sown in November 1832, long before the thought of a presidency by a Lincoln was even a glimmer. 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 since the passage of the 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."

    Many thought a military confrontation would be the solution to the crises; others considered a reduction in the tariff as a better solution. Jackson, himself, would not back down, issuing his Force Bill message to Congress on January 16, 1833. The bill would double down on his attempts to enforce the existing tariff laws of the federal government and keep civil order in South Carolina. At the same time, Congress pursued a new tariff bill. It would reduce tariffs back to 1816 levels, but keep a protectionist stance. Governor Haynes, in South Carolina, saw that as progress, postponing the implementation of nullification by the February 1 date.

    The bills began to move through Congress, twinned to protect the acts of the federal government and appease South Carolina. The Compromise Tariff Bill passed the House, 119-85, the Senate 29-16. The Force Act passed the House, 149-48, the Senate 32-1 with numerous abstentions.

    The South Carolina legislature would accept the Compromise Tariff and nullify the Nullification Act on March 11, 1833. It would nullify the Force Act symbolically. By the end of this crises, its seeds were firmly sown for the discontent that would lead to war at Fort Sumter (image below) in 1861. President Jackson wrote that fact, in eloquent foreshadow on May 1, 1833. "the tariff was only a pretext, and disunion and southern confederacy the real object. The next pretext will be the negro, or slavery question."


    The Force Act 1833, Text


    An Act further to provide for the collection of duties on imports.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, That whenever, by reason of unlawful obstructions, combinations, or assemblages of persons, it shall become impracticable, in the judgment of the President, to execute the revenue laws, and collect the duties on imports in the ordinary way, in any collection district, it shall and may be lawful for the President to direct that the custom-house for such district be established and kept in any secure place within some port or harbour of such district, either upon land or on board any vessel; and, in that case, it shall be the duty of the collector to reside at such place, and there to detain all vessels and cargoes arriving within the said district until the duties imposed on said cargoes, by law, be paid in cash, deducting interest according to existing laws; and in such cases it shall be unlawful to take the vessel or cargo from the custody of the proper officer of the customs, unless by process from some court of the United States; and in case of any attempt otherwise to take such vessel or cargo by any force, or combination, or assemblage of persons too great to be overcome by the officers of the customs, it shall and may be lawful for the President of the United States, or such person or persons as he shall have empowered for that purpose, to employ such part of the land or naval forces, or militia of the United States, as may be deemed necessary for the purpose of preventing the removal of such vessel or cargo, and protecting the officers of the customs in retaining the custody thereof.

    SEC. 2. And be it further enacted, That the jurisdiction of the circuit courts of the United States shall extend to all cases, in law or equity, arising under the revenue laws of the United States, for which other provisions are not already made by law; and if any person shall receive any injury to his person or property for or on account of any act by him done, under any law of the United States, for the protection of the revenue or the collection of duties on imports, he shall be entitled to maintain suit for damage therefor in the circuit court of the United States in the district wherein the party doing the injury may reside, or shall be found. And all property taken or detained by any officer or other person under authority of any revenue law of the United States, shall be irrepleviable, and shall be deemed to be in the custody of the law, and subject only to the orders and decrees of the courts of the United States having jurisdiction thereof. And if any person shall dispossess or rescue, or attempt to dispossess or rescue, any property so taken or detained as aforesaid, or shall aid or assist therein, such person shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanour, and shall be liable to such punishment as is provided by the twenty-second section of the act for the punishment of certain crimes against the United States, approved the thirtieth day of April, Anno Domini one thousand seven hundred and ninety, for the wilful obstruction or resistance of officers in the service of process.

    SEC. 3. And be it further enacted, That in any case where suit or prosecution shall be commenced in a court of any state, against any officer of the United States, or other person, for or on account of any act done under the revenue laws of the United States, or under colour thereof, or for or on account of any right, authority, or title, set up or claimed by such officer, or ther person under any such law of the United States, it shall be lawful for the defendant in such suit or prosecution, at any time before trial, upon a petition to the circuit court of the United States, in and for the district in which the defendant shall have been served with process, setting forth the nature of said suit or prosecution, and verifying the said petition by affidavit, together with a certificate signed by an attorney or counsellor at law of some court of record of the state in which such suit shall have been commenced, or of the United States, setting forth that, as counsel for the petitioner, he has examined the proceedings against him, and has carefully inquired into all the matters set forth in the petition, affidavit and certificate, shall be presented to the said circuit court, if in session, and if not, to the clerk thereof, at his office, and shall be filed in said office, and the cause shall thereupon be entered on the docket of said court, if the suit were commenced in the court below by summons, to issue a writ of certiorari to the state court, requiring said court to send to the said circuit court the record and proceedings in said cause; or it it were commenced by capias, he shall issue of writ of habeas corpus cum causa, a duplicate of which said write shall be delivered to the clerk of the state court, or left at his office by the marshal of the district, or his deputy, or some person duly authorized thereto; and, thereupon it shall be the duty of the said state court to stay all further proceedings in such cause, and the said suit or prosecution, upon delivery of such process, or leaving the same as aforesaid, shall be deemed and taken to be moved to the said circuit court, and any further proceedings, trial or judgment therin in the state court, shall be wholly null and void. And if the defendent in any such suit be in actual custody on mesne process therein, it shall be the duty of the marshal, by virtue of the writ of habeas corpus cum causa, to take the body fo the defendent into his custody, to be dealt with in the said cause according to the rules of law and the order of the circuit court, or af any judge thereof, in vacation. And all attachments made and all bail and other security given upon such suit, or prosecution had proceeded to final judgment and execution in the state court. And if, upon the removal of any such suit, or prosecution, it shall be made to appear to the said circuit court that no copy of the record and proceedings therein, in the state court, can be obtained, it shall be lawful said circuit court to allow and require the plaintiff to proceed de novo, and to file a declaration of his cause of action, and the parties may thereupon proceed as in actions originally brought in said circuit court; and on failure of so proceeding, judgment on non pros. may be rendered against the plaintiff with costs for the defendent.

    SEC. 4. And be if further enacted, That in any case which any party is, or may be by law, entitled to copies of the record and proceedings in any suit or prosecution in any state court, to be used in any court of the United States, if the clerk of said state court shall, upon demand, and the payment or tender of the legal fees, refuse or neglect to deliver to such party certified copies of such record and proceedings, the court of the United States in which such record and proceedings may be needed, on proof, by affidavit, that the clerk of such state court has refused or neglected to deliver copies thereof, on demand as aforesaid, may direct and allow such record to be supplied by affadavit, or otherwise, as the circumstances of the case may require and allow; and, thereupon, such proceeding, trial, and judgment, may be had in the said court of the United States, and all such processes awarded, as if certified copies of such records and proceedings had been regularly before the said court.

    SEC. 5. And be it further enacted, That whenever the President of the United States shall be officially informed, by the authorities of any state, or by a judge of any circuit or district court of the United States, in the state, that, within the limits of such state, any law or laws of the United States, or the execution thereof, or of any process from the courts of the United States, is obstructed by the employment of military force, or by any other unlawful means, too great to be overcome by the ordinary course of judicial proceeding, or by the powers vested in the marshal by existing laws, it shall be lawful for him, the President of the United States, forthwith to issue his proclamation, declaring such fact or information, and requiring all such military and other force forthwith to disperse; and if at any time after issuing such proclamation, any such opposition or obstruction shall be made, in the manner or by the means aforesaid, the President shall be, and hereby is, authorized, promptly to employ such means to suppress the same, and to cause the said laws or process to be duly executed, as are authorized and provided in the casese therein mentioned by the act of the twenty-eight of February, one thousand seven hundred and ninety-five, entitled "An act to provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the Union, suppress insurrections, repel invasions, and to repeal the act now in force for that purpose;" and also, by the act of the third of March, one thousand eight hundred and seven, entitled "An act authorizing the employment of the land and naval forces of the United States in cases of insurrection."

    SEC. 6. And be it further enacted, That in any state where the jails are not allowed to be used for the imprisonment of persons arrested or committed under the laws of the United States, or where houses are not allowed to be so used, it shall and may be lawful for any marshal, under the direction of the judge of the United States for the proper district, to use other convenient places, within the limits of said state, and to make such other provision as he may deem expedient and necessary for that purpose.

    SEC. 7. Ant be if further enacted, That either of the justices of the Supreme Court, or a judge of any district court of the United States, in addition to the authority conferred by law, shall have power to grant writs of habeas corpus in all cases of a prisoner or prisoners, in jail or confinement, where he or they shall be committed or confined on, or by any authority or law, for any act done, or omitted to be done, in pursuance of a law of the United States, or any order, process, or decree, of any judge or court thereof, any thing in any act of Congress to the contrary notwithstanding. And if any person or persons to whom such writ of habeas corpus may be directed, shall refuse to obey the same, or shall neglet or refuse to make return, or shall make a false return thereto, in addition to the rememdies already given by law, he or they shall be deemed and taken to be guilty of a misdemeanor, and shall, on conviction before any court of competent jurisdiction, be punished by fine, not exceeding one thousand dollars, and by imprisonment, not exceeding six months, or by either, according to the nature and aggravation of the case.

    SEC. 8. And be it further enacted, That the several provisions contained in the first and fifth sections of this act, shall be in force until the end of the next session of Congress, and no longer.

    APPROVED, March 2, 1833.

    The Compromise Tariff Act 1833, Text


    An act to modify the act of the 14th of July, one thousand eight hundred and thirty-two, and all other acts imposing duties on imports.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and the House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, that from and after the thirty-first day of December, one thousand eight hundred and thirty-three, in all cases where duties are imposed on foreign imports, by the act of the fourteenth day of July, one thousand eight hundred and thirty-two, entitled "An act to alter and amend the several acts imposing duties on imports," or by an other act, shall exceed twenty per centum on the value thereof, one tenth part of such excess shall be deducted; from and after the thirty-first day of DCecember, one thousand eight hundred and thirty-five, another tenth part thereof shall be deducted; from and after the thirty-first day of December, on thousand eight hundred and thirty-nine, another tenth part thereof shall be deducted; and from and after the thirty-first day of December, one thousand eight hundred and forty-one, one half of the reside (residue) of such excess shall be deducted; and from and after the thirtieth day of June, one thousand eight hundred and forty-two, the other half thereof shall be deducted.

    SEC. 2. And be if further enacted, That so much of the second section of the act of the fourteenth of July aforesaid, as fixes the rate of duty on all milled and fulled cloth, known by the names of plains, kerseys, or kendal cottons, of which wool is the only material, the value whereof does not exceed thirty-five cents a square yard, at five per centum ad valorem, shall be, and the same is hereby, repealed. And the said articles shall be subject to the same duty of fifty per centum, as if provided by the said second section for other manufacturers of wool; which duty shall be liable to the same deductions as are prescribed by the first section of this act.

    SEC. 3. And be if further enacted, That, until the thirtieth day of June, one thousand eight hundred and forty-two, the duties imposed by existing laws, as modified by this act, shall remain and continue to be collected. And from and after the day last aforesaid, all duties upon imports shall be collected in ready money; and all credits now allowed by law, in the payment of duties, shall be, and hereby are abolished; and such duties shall be laid for the purpose of raising such revenue as may be necessary to an economical administration of the government; and from and after the day last aforesaid, the duties required to be paid by law on goods, wares, and merchandise, shall be assessed upon the value thereof at the port where the same shall be entered, under such regulations as may be prescribed by law.

    SEC. 4. And be it further enacted, That, in addition to the articles now exempt by the act of the fourteenth of July, one thousand eight hundred and thirty-two, and the existing laws, from the payment of duties, the following articles imported from and after the thirty-first day of December, one thousand eight hundred and thirty-three, and until the thirtieth day of June, one thousand eight hundred and forty-two, shall also (be) admitted to entry, free from duty, to wit: bleached and unbleached linens, table-linen, linen napkins, and linen cambries, and worsted stuff goods, shawls, and other manufacturers of silk shall be the component material of chief value, coming from this side of the Cape of Good Hope, except sewing silk.

    SEC. 5. And be it further enacted, That from and after the said thirtieth day of June, one thousand eight hundred and forty-two, the following articles shall be admitted to entry, free from duty, to wit: indigo, quick-silver, sulphur, crude salpetre, grindstones, refined borax, emory, opium, tin in plates and sheets, gum Arabic, gum Senegal, lac dye, madder, madder root, nuts and berries used in dyeing, saffron, turmeric, woad or pastel, aloes, ambergris, Burgundy pitch, cochineal, chamomile flowers, coriander seed, catsup, chalk, cocculus indicus, horn plates for lanterns, ox horns, other horns and tips, india-rubber, manufactured ivory, juniper berries, musk, nuts of all kinds, oil of juniper, unmanufactured rattans and reeds, tortoise shell, tin foil, shellac, vegetables used principally in dyeing and composing dyes, weld, and all articles employed chiefly for dyeing, except allum, copperas, bichromate of potash, prussiate of potash, chromate of potash, and nitrate of lead, aqua fortis, and tartaric acid.

    SEC. 6. And be it further enacted, That so much of the act of the forteenth day of June, one thousand eight hundred and thirty-two, or of any other act, as is inconsistent with this act, shall be, and the same is hereby, repealed: Provided, That nothing hereine contained shall be so construed as to prevent the passage, prior or subsequent to the said thirtieth day of June, one thousand eight hundred and forty-two, of any act or acts, from time to time, that may be necessary to detect, prevent, or punish evasions of the duties on imports imposed by law, nor to prevent the passage of any act, prior to the thirtieth day of June, one thousand eight hundred and forty-two, in the contingency either of excess or deficiency of revenue, altering the rates of duties on articles which, by the aforesaid act of forteenth day of July, one thousand eight hundred and thirty-two, are subject to a less rate of duty, and so as to adjust the revenue to either of the said contingencies.

    APPROVED, March 2, 1833.

    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.

    Fort Sumter, South Carolina




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