Andrew Jackson on Nullification

Portrait of Andrew Jackson, the seventh presid...

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I ran across an interesting piece of political history this weekend. With nullification occasionally making the news across the country, I thought it was interesting to see how the executive responded to it in one of its first appearances, during the Administration of Andrew Jackson.

THE Constitution of the United States forms a government, not a league, and whether it be formed by compact between the States, or in any other manner, its character is same. It is a government in which all the people are represented which operates directly upon the people individually not upon the States they retained all the power they did grant. But each State having expressly parted with so powers as to constitute jointly with the other States a single Nation cannot from that period possess any right to secede because such secession does not break a league but destroys unity of a Nation and any injury to that unity is not only breach which would result from the contravention of a compact but is an offense against the whole Union.[…]

The laws of the United States must be executed. I have no discretionary power on the subject–my duty is emphatically pronounced in the Constitution. Those who told you that you might peaceably prevent their execution deceived you–they could not have been deceived themselves.

Andrew Jackson, on nullification attempts in South Carolina.


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