Wednesday, May 6, 2009


Ed Kilgore has the goods on the revival of the long dead idea of state nullification of Federal laws. This idea first took off with John C. Calhoun who proposed it in response to the 1828 and 1832 tariff legislation signed into law by President Jackson. The President ultimately dispatched the navy to Calhoun's home state of South Carolina to demonstrate Federal force.

It should be noted that Calhoun was actually Jackson's Vice-President through 1832 while he was agitating for nullification. Calhoun essentially birthed the intellectual rationale for seccession which ultimately led to the Civil War. Remember that South Carolina was the first state to secede after the election of Lincoln. That South Carolina is also Calhoun's home state is not a coincidence.

I wonder if Texas governor Rick Perry or any of the other neo-Calhouns have an understanding of the history of state nullification? Somehow I doubt it but then again I also doubt that they would care much about being viewed as the ideological descendants of secession and treason.

1 comment:

Andrew Oh-Willeke said...

I think you are wrong about Rick Perry. I think that he and many of his ideological cohorts know the history of nullification intimately. The politicians of his father's generation, after all, were active proponents of the idea.

Even liberals from Texas who have caught the slightest bit of the Texas bug speak somewhat proudly of the alleged privilege of Texas to leave the action or take other steps forbidden to typical states on account of the circumstances by which it joined the Union. Texas exceptionalism is part of the local political culture.