Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 40.djvu/14

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
Southern Historical Society Papers.

turn by the "tariff of abominations" in 1828. These were sectional measures, and the South felt herself being oppressed and impoverished by the combined Northern and North-western majority. The tariff act of 1832 was of the same stripe as its predecessors. Out of this situation came the Nullification crisis of 1830-33.

Early in 1830 occurred the memorable debate in the Senate of the United States between Robert Y. Hayne, of South Carolina, and Daniel Webster, of Massachusetts. Just three years later, early in 1833, a similar debate took place between the same Mr. Webster on one side and, on the other side, Hayne's successor in the Senate, the immortal John C. Calhoun. Hayne and Calhoun were the champions of the South in the pending sectional controversy; Webster, of the North. In these debates Webster is said to have "shotted every gun" that was fired for the North in the great War of thirty years later. (16) If this be so, careful attention is due to this Titans' war, this battle of the forensic giants, and to the great constitutional and institutional arguments then advanced.

The immediate issue was the tariff. The Southern States, and especially South Carolina, contended that the existing tariff laws were devised for protecting Northern manufacturers, and so imposed a sectional burden upon the agricultural South; they contended, further, that there was no warrant for anything more than a revenue tariff; that a tariff for "protection," as it is called, was utterly unconstitutional.

Whether the South was correct on these two points; viz: the injurious effects of a "protective" tariff at that time, upon the South, and the unconstitutionality of such a tariff with these two questions we are not here concerned. But from this starting point the debates ranged out and covered other two questions which do here concern us. And these are: first, How are disputed questions of constitutionality, arising between States, or groups of States, in the union, to be determined?; second, The nature of the union, whether a union of States as States, or of the American people in one aggregate mass. To take these up briefly, in inverse order to that just given: