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State's Rights v. Federal Supremacy - Essay Example

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The South Carolina Nullification Crisis United States of America. The name speaks for itself; no profound or elaborate definition is required. The USA is composed of states that have come together under one flag, one constitution and one government. The creation of the USA has also paved the way for the creation of the federal government…
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States Rights v. Federal Supremacy
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"State's Rights v. Federal Supremacy"

Download file to see previous pages Thus, the South Carolina Ordinance of Nullification was written and passed by the legislature of South Carolina in November 24, 1832. The South Carolina Ordinance of Nullification was enacted in response to the Tariff of 1828 passed by Congress with force and effect in all states. The Southern states felt that the law has favored the northern states which are basically into manufacturing industries over the southern states which are based on agriculture. The State of South Carolina led by Calhoun took the stand and actually passed the nullification ordinance which described the tariff laws as “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…” The South Carolina ordinance thus declared the tariffs laws as unconstitutional. It argued that the federal government has “exceeded its just powers under the constitution… and hath 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.” Calhoun justified his theory of nullification using the arguments made by Jefferson when he wrote the Kentucky Resolution in 1798 which declared that, “the several states who formed that instrument, being sovereign and independent, have the unquestionable right to judge of its infraction; and that a nullification, by those sovereignties, of all unauthorized acts done under color of that instrument, is the rightful remedy.” In addition to the power of nullification, Calhoun also added that the state of South Carolina, or every other state for that matter, has the right to secede from the union if the federal government denies its power of nullification and uses military power to force its federal laws upon the dissenting state. In clear and very specific terms, Calhoun declared that the state of South Carolina and its people “will not submit to the application of force on the part of the federal government, to reduce this State to obedience.” He declared further that any attempt to coerce the state through military or economic means is “inconsistent with the longer continuance of South Carolina in the Union.” The South Carolina Ordinance may have borrowed some ideas from the Kentucky and Virginia resolutions. All three documents reminded the federal government as to where its powers come from and that these power-givers will never just sit in the sideline when these powers are abused and misused. Likewise, all three legislations strongly promote the individual state’s power to nullify an act of the federal government that are not in accord with the spirit and purpose of the constitution. However, Calhoun’s ordinance differs from Madison and Jefferson’s resolutions because the former did not just stop at declaring an act of Congress as null and void. It went on to declare that if the federal government does not recognize its nullification ordinance and uses force to coerce them into obedience, then the state has the concomitant power to secede from the Union “and will forthwith proceed to organize a separate government, and do ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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