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was connected with the absence of any clear and deep division upon large questions of policy. There emerged a group of ideas constituting what was called the “American system,” of which Clay was the foremost advocate, and which became the basis of the Whig party, as it was organized in the early '30's. It's general principle was the free use of the Federal government's resources for the industrial and commercial betterment of the people; and its prominent applications were a national bank, a system of national highroads and waterways, and a liberal use of the protective principle in tariff laws. Protection to American industry” was the great cry by which Clay now rallied his followers. The special direction of this protection was in favor of American manufacturers. By very high taxes levied on imported goods, the price of those was necessarily raised to the consumer, and the American maker of clothes, cutlery, and so on, was enabled to raise his own prices correspondingly. Naturally, this result was most gratifying to the manufacturer and his dependents and allies. No less naturally, it was highly objectionable to the consumer. But to the consumer it was pointed out that by thus fostering the “infant industries” of his country they would be strengthened to the point where they could and would supply him with his goods far more cheaply than would otherwise be possible. But this pleasing promise, held out now for some seventy-five years, somehow failed to quite satisfy the consumer; and where whole classes and sections were consumers only, from the tariff standpoint, and saw themselves mulcted for the benefit of classes and sections already richer than they, they grumbled loudly, and did not always stop with grumbling. So when in 1828 a tariff was enacted imposing very high duties on most manufactured articles, and which delighted the hearts of New England and Middle States manufac
turers, it was so obnoxious to others that the name was fastened to it of "the tariff of abominations," and history has never changed that name.
There were hopes of relief under Jackson, but in the confusion of party issues, and with the tariff supported by the consolidated strength of the manufacturers--a consolidation powerful enough to make Webster its spokesman in Congress; a consolidation as definite and resolute as that of the slave-holders, and destined to be far longerlived,—no change in legislation came till 1832, and then the change was immaterial; the "tariff of abominations” was substantially re-enacted. The South had been chafing bitterly, and now South Carolina broke into open revolt. The whole South felt itself aggrieved by the tariff. Its industrial system was not suited to develop manufactures; it lacked the material for skilled labor; it lacked the artisan class who create a demand. Its staple industry was agriculture, the growth of tobacco, rice, sugar, and above all, cotton, and it went to the North and to Europe for its manufactured goods. A system of taxation which doubled the price of its imports without helping its exports, was resented as unjust, and as hostile to the spirit if not the letter of the Constitution.
South Carolina took the lead, and indeed stood alone, in applying a remedy more drastic than the disease—nullification. Calhoun's logic welded and sharpened the weapon which had behind it almost the entire weight of the State. The precise relation of the States to the Union, left indeterminate in the Constitution, and debated in every crisis which had strained the bonds, was now asserted by Calhoun to involve the right of any State to declare null and void any action of the Federal Congress which impaired its rights. South Carolina now put the theory into action. She held near the close of 1832 a convention,
which declared the tariff law unconstitutional and void; asserted that the State would no longer pay duties under it, and if coercion was attempted would secede outright.
Congress discussed the matter; and in the most memorable and classic of Senate debates, Hayne of South Carolina vindicated the State's position with logic, passion, and eloquence; while Webster replied with an equal logic, a broader and higher ideal of nationality, a vindication of New England which thrilled all hearts, and a patriotism which gave the keynote to the ultimate triumph of the Union. Hitherto, Massachusetts and South Carolina had each stood stiffly at times for her own way, even at peril of the national bond; but in that hour the individuality of South Carolina was merged in the slave-holding States, and that of Massachusetts in a Union, one and indivisible.
The challenge of South Carolina was promptly answered by Jackson, just re-elected President. He issued a proclamation, proclaiming nullification as political heresy, and threatening to treat its practical exercise as treason. But the situation was not destined to settlement by the high hand. Webster favored such a settlement; he was for no concession. As well make the issue now as ever, he said. The President's friends introduced a bill giving him authority, if nullification were insisted on, to close ports of entry, collect duties by military force, and the like; "the force bill,” it was called. But the tariff of abominations” was not the most satisfactory or promising ground on which to assert the national sovereignty. And Jackson was hardly a desirable man to intrust with indefinite military power. So urged the timid or the moderate, and Clay was again the spokesman of compromise. He brought in a tariff bill, by which all duties above 20 per cent. were to be gradually reduced until in 10 years they reached that
figure, at which they were to remain. This bill and the force bill were passed together, and signed the same day. Confronted by the government with the sword in one hand and the olive branch in the other, South Carolina retracted—it was not a capitulation—and repealed the ordinance. Nullification as a theory passed out of sight. But the willingness of the extreme South to push to all lengths its resistance to a hostile policy remained, and was felt in all that followed.
It was a distinct tradition among Calhoun's followers after his death and they followed him till Appomattoxthat he privately gave as a reason for making the first battle on the tariff question rather than on slavery, that on the first the world's sympathies would be with them, and on slavery against them. The same tradition ascribed to Calhoun the prediction that the Northern influence would become predominant in the Union about 1860. Whether or not Calhoun said these things, the tariff issue certainly was brought on by the North; and the “compromise" on it was a substantial victory gained by South Carolina for the South. The final verdict of history may be that it was a just victory, won by unjust means. Calhoun now stood forth the recognized leader of his section, while it soon became apparent that of that section slavery was the special bond, and was to be its avowed creed.
Almost unobserved for a time amid these exciting events, the debate over slavery had been going on, transferred mainly from the political field to the minds and consciences of individuals. Once in State politics it came to an issue. Illinois, a free State without question at its admission in 1818, had a majority of its early immigrants from the South, and a determined effort was made to introduce slavery by law. It met a still more vigorous resistance, in which the Methodist and Baptist clergy, mainly
Southern men, took a leading part. The opposition was led by a Southerner, Gov. Edward Coles, one of the forgotten heroes. Inheriting in Virginia some hundreds of slaves, and hindered by the State laws from emancipating them, he took them all to Illinois, gave them their freedom, supplied them with land, cabins, stock, and tools, and watched and befriended them till they became selfsupporting. In each deed of emancipation he gave his testimony: “Whereas, I do not believe a man can have a right of property in his fellow men .. I do therefore
restore to the said that inalienable liberty of which they have been deprived." He led the fight against the introduction of slavery into Illinois to a decisive victory in 1824. A few more such men throughout the South, and history would have been different.
A quiet advocacy of anti-slavery went on throughout the country, except the extreme South. It was in sympathy with the general revival of religious activity which began about 1815—a form of the new national life, disentangled from European complications, and free for home conquests and widening achievements. Three great evils aroused the spirit of reform-intemperance, slavery, and war. The general assembly of the Presbyterian church, representing the whole country, in 1818, by a unanimous vote, condemned slavery as
a gross violation of the most sacred and precious rights of human nature, and utterly inconsistent with the law of God, which requires us to love our neighbor as ourselves.” In 1824-7 the Legislatures of Pennsylvania, Ohio, and New Jersey passed resolutions calling on Congress to provide for compensated emancipation, and expressing willingness that their States should pay their share of the burden. This last sentiment was a rare one; the self-sacrifice it demanded from the nonslave-holding States was very little in evidence during