How the Tariffs of 1828 and 1832 lead to the Ordinance of Nullification, the    Compromise Tariff and the Force Bill

Relevance of Terms

In 1828, Congress passed the Tariff of 1828 that was designed to protect the North’s industry. The Southerners hated this tax and called it the Tariff of Abominations because it had such a profound effect on the Southern economy. The tariff was meant to protect the industries in the North because they were being driven out by the low-priced imported goods that put a tax on these industries. Consequently, the Tariff of 1828 was a burden to the Southern economy. They had to pay higher prices on items this region didn’t produce, such as textiles and iron goods. These were relatively more expensive to the South. Also, the Tariff limited the importation of British goods, but this made it hard for the British to buy the South’s cotton since none of their products were bringing in revenue. In 1832, Congress passed a new Tariff to reduce some of the effects from the Tariff of 1828 in hopes of appeasing the Southerners, but this was not enough for the Southern states. In the winter of 1832, South Carolina passes the Ordinance of Nullification that declared the Tariff of 1828 and 1832 null and void. This brought up the issue of state’s rights and the federal government’s ability to enforce the tariff. In the same year, Andrew Jackson passed the Force Bill which declared it constitutional for the federal government to send troops and enforce the tariff. South Carolina repealed the ordinance due because of the military threat and following a Congressional revision of tariff- called the Compromise Tariff. This gradually reduced the taxes yearly until the rate of the tax reached the rate the taxes were in 1828.

Political Cartoon

This is a political cartoon illustrated as a response to the the Tariff of 1832. It shows how people, particularly in the South, were upset with the Tariff of 1832. They thought it was the end of all free trade in America. Van Buren, who was behind the candidacy of Jackson, supported tariffs that benefited Jackson's home state of New York in order to help swing voters in Jackson's favor for the presidential race in 1828.  In addition, journalists and intellectuals took a great interest in tariff's effect on the economy. Consequently, this group  gathered at a national convention in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, in 1827, and came up with a national program for tariffs. Rates were raised on raw materials much more than manufactured goods. This ended up benefiting farmers and iron manufacturers in Northeast, particularly in Pennsylvania,  and New York. These were places where Jackson needed to gain more votes. The South was in favor of free trade, particulary since the tariffs were most hurtful to the Southerners. They produced very cheap cotton, and opposed tariffs since they did not need them. The tariffs hurt the Southerners because they had to pay higher prices for American Textiles and iron goods.

Analysis From Primary Source

New tariffs were passed to deal with the flood of cheap British imports. The tariffs angered the plantation owners, but passed anyway. This caused the Republican Party to split into the democratic and Whig parties. The tariffs passing led to South Carolina creating nullifying. They nullified the tariffs and threatened to secede from the Union. President Jackson passed the Force Bill in response to this, which stated that he could use the federal army to stop secession.

Additional Information

=> Although there have been ongoing conflicts between the North and South since our country's creation, the conflict caused by these tariffs foreshadowed and to some degree was a cause of the Civil War.

=> After the Compromise tariff,  differences over tariffs  continued. Southern Democrats, who were for free trade, continued to advocate for lower tariffs. The Northern Whigs still wanted higher tariffs.  The newly formed Republican Party took up the cause of higher tariffs when the Whigs disappeared. The Democrats continued to advocate for free trade, but were unsuccessful. When the  Civil War began in 1861, the economic balance had swung firmly to the North and their desire for high tariffs.

=> John C. Calhoun wrote the South Carolina Exposition and Protest,  anonomously in response to the tariffs of 1828.

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