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John C. Calhoun
(American Statesman)

Date of Birth:
March 18, 1782

Date of Death:
March 31, 1850


Quote count:

Times favorited:

John Caldwell Calhoun was a leading United States Southern politician and political philosopher from South Carolina during the first half of the 19th century. He is perhaps best known as the first Vice President to resign his office. Calhoun was an advocate of states' rights, limited government, and nullification. He was the first vice-president born as a U.S. citizen.

After a short stint in the South Carolina legislature, where he wrote legislation making South Carolina the first state to adopt white male suffrage, Calhoun began his federal career as a staunch nationalist, favoring war with Britain in 1812 and a federal program of internal improvements afterwards. He reversed course in the 1820s, when the "Corrupt Bargain" of 1824 led him to renounce nationalism in favor of states' rights of the sort Thomas Jefferson and James Madison had propounded in the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions of 1798. Although he died a decade before the American Civil War broke out, Calhoun was a major inspiration to the secessionists who created the short-lived Confederate States of America. Nicknamed the "cast-iron man" for his staunch determination to defend the causes in which he believed, Calhoun pushed nullification, states' rights, under which states could declare null and void federal laws they deemed to be unconstitutional. He was an outspoken proponent of the institution of slavery, which he defended as a "positive good" rather than as a necessary evil. His rhetorical defense of slavery was partially responsible for escalating Southern threats of secession in the face of mounting abolitionist sentiment in the North. He was part of the "Great Triumvirate", or the "Immortal Trio", along with his colleagues Daniel Webster and Henry Clay.

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