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A Nation Divided

South Carolina Ordinance of Nullification

South Carolina Ordinance of Nullification
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 9 to 10
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   8.31

     challenging words:    abomination, Hayne, insurrection, null, importers, secession, majority, revenue, minority, further, unconstitutional, brink, legislature, propose, status, advocate
     content words:    United States, Civil War, John C., South Carolinian, Vice President, Robert Y., Federal Union, President Andrew Jackson, South Carolina State, United States Congress

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South Carolina Ordinance of Nullification
By Mary L. Bushong

1     Some people think that when the South seceded from the United States, that it was a sudden decision. Nothing could be further from the truth. The first real challenge about states' rights happened almost thirty years before the secession leading up to the Civil War.
2     In 1828, a new tariff was passed by the Congress of the United States. The purpose of it was not only to get revenue, but to equalize the prices of goods produced in the U.S. with cheaper goods imported from abroad. When goods came in from overseas, a heavy tax was applied. The importers would pass the cost of the tax on to the customers.
3     Since most of these goods were imported to the Southern states, many of the people living there considered it a tax against them. Rich land owners especially resented this new cut into their profits.
4     John C. Calhoun, a native South Carolinian and Vice President of the United States, was vocally against it. He was a strong advocate for states' rights and thought the tariff was unfair. He joined in his state's protest. In 1830 he made a speech declaring that the tariff was unconstitutional. Robert Y. Hayne, the S.C. Senator, declared that the issue was one of States' Rights versus the rights of centralized power.

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