CALHOUN, Join CALDWELL ( 1782 1850). An American statesman, of Scotch-Irish descent, and Vice-President of the United States. He was the third son of Patrick and Martha (Caldwell) nn, and was born in the Abbe ville District (now county), South Carolina, March 18, 17)32. Though early of a meditative dis position, he had, owing to the moderate circum stances of his family, little regular schooling, and lie was 18 before he began the systematic study under his brother-in-law which fitted him in 1802 to enter the junior class at Yale. Ile graduated in 1,904 with high honors, and then having stud ied law, partly in Charleston, he began to prac tice in Abbeville in 1807. He was soon sent to the State Legislature, and in 1811 was elected to Congress—the same year marrying a second cousin, Floride Calhoun, who had a moderate tortune. He sided with Clay and the war party in Congress, and on account of his strong per sonality came quickly to the front. lie was dis tinctly nationalistic in his politics at this time, laying himself open to a charge of inconsistency when he later became a leader of the strict con structionists. In 1816 he was in favor of a na tional bank, advocated a strengthening of the navy for defense. and favored, as a means of binding together the widely spread Republic, not only internal improvements in the shape of per manent roads, but also a protective tariff. Cal houn became Secretary of War in Alon•oe's Cabi net in March. 1817, showing marked ability in the administration of a department then in the utmost disorder. He prepared, at the request of the House, a noteworthy report on roads and canals, and drew up one on Indian affairs which has received great praise. The army was re duced, and Calhoun's reorganization of it proved so satisfactory that his system adhered to by his successors. In be favored the :Mis souri Conipromise. He was now mentioned as a candidate for the Presidency, but General Jack son proved more popular. and Calhoun was elected Vice-President in 1824, with the support of the two principal parties. Turning to Jack son's side, in opposition to Adams, lie was again elected in 1828. The passing of the 'Tariff of Abominations' of 1828, the protective features of which lain) hard on the agricultural State of South Carolina, was the occasion of Calhoun's preparing a paper forth the claims of State sovereignty. This document was issued by the Legislature of his State, and is known as the "South Carolina Exposition." A definite break with Jackson followed the President's discovery that Calhoun had sought to call him to account for his course in the Seminole War. Then, when Jackson tried, with the aid of Martin Van Buren, to reinstate in Washington society the notorious Mrs. Eaton, Calhoun refused to co operate with him, thus widening the breach. Jackson's hold on the people was so great that he could dictate his successor, and Calhoun's chances of becoming President were now gone. When Calhoun became convinced that the re peal of the protective tariff could not be se mired through Jackson, lie published, July 26, 1831, a manifesto, carrying on the argument of the "Exposition," repeating his arguments for free trade, and asserting the right of the States to nullify such Federal laws as they considered unconstitutional. South Carolina re garded the tariff modifications of 1S30 as being a compromise in fact, but a reassertion of the principle of protection. On August 2S, 1832, Cal houn wrote to Governor Hamilton, of South Caro lina, giving the final statement of his doctrine, asserting that "there is no direct and immediate emmection between the individual citizens of a State and the general Government," and that "the great conservative principle" of union is nullification. When the South Carolina conven
tion, on November 24, 1832, passed an ordinance nullifying the tariff, Calhoun immediately re signed the Vice-Presidency and entered the Sen ate. By a compromise. engineered by Clay. a conflict was avoided; South Carolina won the particular point as to the thrill', but failed to se cure the establishment of nullification as a prin ciple. Acting with the Whigs, but still inde pendent, Calhoun now became a scathing critic of Jackson's administration, though never allowing personal animus to appear; he condenmeil se verelyJackson's removal of the public Government deposits from the United States National Bank, and his development of the spoils system. Fore seeing more clearly than any one else the eonflict between the North and the South on the slav ery question, he sought to avert it by checking all discussion of the issue. When, after the financial crisis of 1837, Van Buren proposed the "sub-treasury scheme," by which the United States avoids all connection with banks and con trols its own deposits. Calhoun supported the President. much to the chagrin of the Whigs, with whom lie had been acting. Ile was in favor of Van Buren's reelection, and secured for him the vote of South Carolina. When Tyler, who became President on the death of Harrison. ve toed the bill for rechartering the United States Bank, Calhoun defended him; he denounced the tariff of 1842 and supported the Webster-Ash burton treaty. After having declined reelection to the Senate in 1843, he was, in March of the next year, through a clever move on the part of Henry A. Wise, appointed Secretary of State by Tyler, and was chiefly instrumental in bring ing about the annexation of Texas, in order to extend slave territory, thus practically necessi tating a war, which he strove later to avert. In 1815 he was again in the Senate. In order to check the anti-slavery movement at the North, lie proposed in 1847 a convention of Southern States, to prevent Northern commerce from en tering their ports. Slavery he had come to ad•o cate as a positive good, In 1849 he proposed a Southern convention, to set forth the grievances of the slavery side, looking toward "dissolving the partnership," if the only course left open seemed submission. His famous last speech in connection with the Compromise of 1850 was read, on account of his weakness, by another Sen ator. In this he asserted that an amendment to the Constitution would be necessary to restore equilibrium. He died March 31, 1350, having spent his last few months in writing his "Disqui sition on Government," and his "Discourse on the Constitution and Government of the United States," probably the most remarkable discus sions of the rights of minorities ever written.
Calhoun's personality was attractive and his morals were irreproachable. His power of logi cal analysis, though perverted, seems to entitle him to rank as our most original political theo rist: he was probably too much of a doctrinaire to be held a statesman of the first order. It must be conceded, however, that throughout his long political career he impressed both friends and foes as only a man of extraordinary powers can do, and it is quite clear that he really believed that the only way to preserve the Union, which he dearly loved, was to reduce its strength almost to the vanishing point. Consult: Life, by Jen kins (1851), and by Von Hoist (1882) ; Benton, Thirty Years' View (1854) ; Calhoun's Collected (6 vols., ; and his correspondence, edited by J. F. Jameson (1900).