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ufacturing enterprises. They had only their staple exported articles and depended for every other thing upon the rest of the world. They could therefore obtain no direct compensation for the heavy burdens of a protective tariff, and they either wholly failed to recognize the indirect advantages which accrued to the whole Union from the protective system, according to its champions, or considered them of a worth which could bear no sort of comparison with the burden of taxation. They rightly understood that the promises of a speedy lessening of the load would only be fulfilled when their opponents reconciled themselves to a partial abandonment of their main principle. The latter evidently thought nothing of their own promises. Tyler of Virginia had foretold, as early as 1820, that the manufacturers would have to come back again and again with increased demands. This explains the sharpness of speech noticeable from the first in the debates of the representatives of the plantation states. They held it necessary to use at once the threat of a full enforcement of state sovereignty as a radical check to all displeasing measures of the general government. Randolph spoke with more than customary emphasis of "the might" of the south and reminded his hearers that under every constitution "by an unwise exercise of the powers of the government, the people may be driven to the extremity of resistance by force." Such pregnant words had been let fall in congress too often to frighten the majority of members, as long as it was not known whether there lay behind the words an earnest, determined will. The bill passed both houses, in the lower, indeed, by only one hundred and seven to one hundred and two votes, and in the senate by twenty-five to twenty-one.3
1 Deb. of Cong., VI., p. 617.
2 Ibid, VIII., p. 11.
3 Benton, Thirty Years' View, I., p. 34; compare Niles' Reg., XXVI., p. 113.
The plantation states used this scanty majority as a convincing answer to the accusation of the protectionists that the south sought to overthrow, by threats, the highest fundamental principle of a republic, the rule of the majority. In a political organization of the peculiar composition of the Union, they objected, it is not only imprudent, but unjust, to allow a majority of half a dozen votes to be suf ficient to decide a question of this nature and of such deep significance, when the separation of economic interests is so sharply marked by a geographical line. There was truth and important truth in both views, but interest was so overpowering on both sides that men were incapable of a sober consideration of the just complaints of their op ponents. The battle continued and assumed a still more bitter and critical character, inasmuch as the manufacturing interest began to identify itself with the National Republicans or Whigs. Before this, the protectionists had always brought forward their demands at the time of the presidential election, and now their leaders sought to fully entwine it with this question, in which, every four years, all the passion and the hate of American party politics are summed up. Both parties were carrying on the agitation among the masses of the people with energy and system, when the request of the woolen manufacturers and woolgrowers for more effective protection gave, in 1828, an impulse to a new protectionist revision of the tariff. South Carolina and Georgia formed the extreme wing of the anti-tariff party, while Webster, now in league with Clay, stood at the head of the protectionists. Webster justified his desertion to the other camp by explaining that the adoption of the tariff of 1824 had given the country to understand that the protective system was to be the permanent policy of the nation; New England had guided itself by this decision and was now obliged to demand protection for the manufactures which had arisen in consequence of
THE TARIFF AND SLAVERY.
this. This justification was not adapted to weaken the opposition of the plantation states. Whether or not the protective system had been recognized as the permanent policy of the country, they could only lose by giving up. According to their views of the working of the system, they were, as Hamilton of South Carolina expressed it, "coerced to inquire whether we can afford to belong to [such] a confederacy." They could not shut their eyes to the fact that they were going backwards, in an economic sense, despite the increasing demand for cotton and their other staple products, and they painted their own decline in the most glaring colors, because they ascribed it wholly to the tariff and the other features of the economic policy of the general government. This was the way to handle the theme in order to drive the southern people to frenzy, for if this assertion was true, they were practically given the alternative of putting an end at any cost and by all means to that policy or of abandoning themselves, with torpid resignation, to inevitable ruin. But yet these complaints of the retrogression of the south gave the north a trump card, which it did not fail to play. Not the tariff— said the northerners--lets "the fox house himself where the hearthstones of your fathers stood": it is slavery that has turned fields which bore rich fruit twenty and thirty years ago into deserts. In the heat of the conflict, many a word slipped from southern lips which proved the justice of this reproach. But for the very reason that this was well founded, it kindled the strife to a more fiery glow, so that slavery was again directly pointed out as the demon which sowed discord between north and south.
1 Webster, Works, III., pp. 228–247.
* Deb. of Congress, X., p. 112.
3 Niles' Reg, XXXV., p. 205; Benton, Thirty Years' View, I., pp. 98, 99, and in many other places.
See the eighth paragraph in the protest of the legislature of South Carolina. Niles' Reg., XXXV., p. 309.
The loss of the greater part of those who had been up to this time its allies in the north made the defeat of the south a certainty if its opposition was managed in the same way as in 1824. The representatives of South Carolina therefore labored to bring about common action by all the anti-tariff states in accordance with a definite programme. The discussions in their meetings for counsel showed that matters must come to a decided crisis if everything went according to their wishes.' Hamilton, the future governor of South Carolina, already weighed the possibility of an attempt to execute the law by force, and declared that the idea of a man's really thinking of this was "an absurdity not to be heard of." No conclusions could be arrived at, and still less was it possible to succeed in forming a common plan of operations with the other members who were of the same general opinions.
A part of the press outdid even the members of congress in the violence of its opposition as well as in the scope of its projects. Thus the Southron and the Columbia Telescope, for example, advised the calling of a congress of the Opposition states, an idea, the meaning of which was generally recognized, but which had to be dropped because discontent, at any rate in Georgia, had reached such a height that the extreme proposals of South Carolina might have been agreed to. There was also no lack of moderate counsels on the part of the press-counsels which condemned all unconstitutional opposition.3
The legislatures took up the matter. The South Carolina legislature did so most vigorously. Protests were the order of the day. Every member considered himself bound to introduce a series of resolutions which strove to outdo
Compare the declarations called forth from different members by the Hayne-Mitchel debate. Niles' Reg., XXXV., pp. 183-185, 199-203. 2 Ibid, XXXIV., pp. 300, 301.
Compare the numerous extracts in Niles' Reg., XXXIV., pp. 352
each other in bitterness.1 Passionate speeches were, moreover, made at meetings in different districts, at banquets and on similar occasions. Men especially delighted in toasts, in which eloquence went far beyond the bounds of good taste, and threats extended to the farthest limits of the "moral high treason" so greatly blamed a short time before.
The terrible earnestness of all these demonstrations lay in the theories of constitutional law upon which they were based. They rested wholly on the Virginia and Kentucky resolutions, to which, indeed, the legislature of South Carolina directly appealed. The Colleton district declared: "We must resist the impositions of this tariff . . and follow up our principles to their very last consequence." Resolutions introduced by Dunkin in the legislature gave the legal formula by which this was to come to pass in a way commensurate, so to speak, with the matter. He demanded in this and in all similar cases the convocation of a convention of the states in order to nullify the laws objected to.*
Simultaneously, all sorts of other means were brought into play in order to nullify the tariff practically if not legally. Numerous leagues were formed, which bound
1A passage in the resolutions introduced by Cook in the legislature of South Carolina deserves to be quoted, because it is a sign of the spirit in which the radical wing of the state-rights party began to look upon the relation of the states to the federal government. It says: "When a state solemnly protests against an act of congress because it is an usurpation of power, congress ought forthwith to call a convention of the states to decide upon it and suspend its operation until the sense of the states be taken, and if congress, on the application of a state or states, should refuse to call such conventions, neglect to suspend its operation or not immediately repeal the act on the grounds of its unconstitutionality, it thereupon becomes null and void to all intents and purposes." Niles' Reg., XXXV., p. 306.
2 Ibid, XXXV., p. 206.
* Ibid, XXXIV., pp. 288, 290. 4 Ibid, XXXV., p. 305.