Biography of John Caldwell Calhoun
Famous American Biographies

JOHN CALDWELL CALHOUN, a dis tinguished American statesman, was a native of South Carolina, born in Abbeville district, March 18, 1782. He was given the advantages of a thorough education, graduating at Yale College in 1804, and adopted the calling of a lawyer. A Democrat politically, at that time, he took a foremost part in the councils of his party and was elected to congress in 1811, supporting the tariff of 1816 and the establishing of the United States Bank. In 1817 he became secretary of war in President Monroe's cabinet, and in 1824 was elected vice-president of the United States, on the ticket with John Quincy Adams, and re elected in 1828, on the ticket with General Jackson. Shortly after this Mr. Calhoun became one of the strongest advocates of free trade and the principle of sovereignty of the states and was one of the originators of the doctrine that "any state could nullify unconstitutional laws of congress." Meanwhile Calhoun had become an aspirant for the presidency, and the fact that General Jackson advanced the interests of his opponent, Van Buren, led to a quarrel, and Calhoun resigned the vicepresidency in 1832 and was elected United States senator from South Carolina, It was during the same year that a convention was held in South Carolina at which the "Nullification ordinance" was adopted, the object of which was to test the constitutionality of the protective tariff measures, and to prevent if possible the collection of import duties in that state which had been levied more for the purpose of protection than revenue. This ordinance was to go into effect in February, 1833, and created a great deal of uneasiness throughout the country as it was feared there would be a clash between the state and federal authorities. It was in this serious condition oi public affairs that Henry Clay came forward with the the famous "tariff compromise of 1833, to which measure Calhoun and most of his followers gave their support and the crisis was averted. In 1843 Mr. Calhoun was appointed secretary of state in President Tyler's cabinet, and it was under his administration that the treaty concerning the annexation of Texas was negotiated. in 1845 he was re-elected to the United States senate and continued in the senate until his death, which occurred in March, 1850. He occupied a high rank as a scholar, student and orator, and it is conceded that he was one of the greatest debaters America has produced. The famous debate between Calhoun and Webster, in 1833, is regarded as the most noted for ability and eloquence in the history of the country.

A Biographical Record
Of Schuyler County, New York
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company
New York and Chicago 1903.


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