Back to Main

The Man:
His Life and Biography

The Legend:
The Legacy of
one of America's
greatest Senators

One of Calhoun's strongest points was that of States' rights and the theory of nullification. It was his theory that, since the Constitution was a contract joined voluntarily by all the states, the states could voluntarily consider the Federal government void, and thus nullify any federal law. It was this theory that, in part, led to the Secession of the Southern States and the Civil War.
Calhoun also stood strongly on the issue of Slavery and property rights. He felt that Slavery was a "positive good" - a practice benefiting to both sides of the bargain. However, most of his effort was spent in keeping the Union from collapsing around this point, as it inevitably would in 1860.

Important Writings of John C. Calhoun:

Calhoun's speech on the Compromise of 1850: In 1850, the state of California was about to be annexed into the Union. However, the controversy over whether or not it was to be a free state or slave state started problems between the North and the South. John C. Calhoun couldn't read this speech himself, however, as he was too ill to read it at the time: another South Carolina Senator (A.P. Butler) read it for him.

Southern Address: This speech was directed at the South, describing their problem and what the North has done with the Government without the nation's consent. It was signed by the Congressmen from 12 southern states.

Senate Remarks: In 1833, Calhoun made these remarks regarding Nullification and the Force Bill.

Slavery, a Positive Good: Calhoun's speech denouncing the moral accusations against slavery, proclaiming it a just system.

Disquisition on Government: Calhoun's views on politics in general.

"Study the past if you would divine the future."
Henry Clay, one of
Calhoun's political