Against The Feds
Zach Stoebner, Brandon Li, Shravi Lam
After a few years of American independence issues with states' right versus federal rights began to divide the people of America. After the institution of the Alien and Sedition Acts, Jefferson and Madison wrote the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions to combat federal power by stating that states have the rights to nullify federal laws that they deem unconstitutional. This idea was evident again in the Hartford Convention where New England federalists discussed their complaints over the War of 1812 and the Embargo of 1807. The New Englanders were dissatisfied with the federal laws such as the 3/5 Compromise and proposed new laws that required 2/3 of Congress's vote to admit new states, declaration of war, and restriction of trade. Consecutively, the idea of nullification reemerged in the Webster/Hayne debate of 1830 over protectionist tariffs centering around a resolution by Senator Samuel A. Foot calling for temporary suspension of further land surveying until land already on the market was sold. Westerners saw this proposal as an abuse by the Northeast and the debate eventually evolved into a discussion over states' rights versus national power. Once again, nullification was brought up in the South Carolina Exposition and Protest against the tariff of 1828. South Carolina saw the tax as oppressive and threatened to secede if the tariff wasn't repeated. Calhoun's Doctrine of Nullification was used to justify their plight. Each of these events further sectionalized the country and portrayed state opposition and independence of federal actions.
Explanation: One of the many responses from Americans dissatisfied with the power of the federal government utilized the idea of nullification. Nullification allowed states to pick and choose which federal laws to follow.
Explanation: Calhoun's Doctrine of Nullification asserted that a state could and had and the authority to declare a federal law unconstitutional on its own. This is a primary source that exemplifies states' fights to distinguish themselves from the federal government. This is related to the South Carolina Exposition and Protest.
A long-term effect of this theme is a case in Arizona where the federal government is filing a case to challenge an Arizona immigration law requiring officers to check the immigration status when "reasonable suspicion exists" and the state is arguing for extension of their rights as a state and the legal threat of another "government takeover."