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John Caldwell Calhoun was born in South Carolina. In spite of poverty, he entered Yale, and graduated with the highest honors.


When the Congressional session of 1811 began, Calhoun was found in his seat as representative from South Carolina. His public life was passed in Washington from that time until the end, a period of forty years.

He was one of the three great statesmen of that wonderful generation which produced Clay, Webster, and himself. Three men of larger caliber never sat together in the same legislative assembly.

“ Clay sought compromises, and Webster appealed to the moral obligations of union and patriotism; but Calhoun devoted himself singly to defending slavery and state rights."

He was a most impressive figure, with his long, striking face of ghastly pallor, his straight hair falling down on either side of his cheeks, his flaming eyes, and his manner of imposing dignity.


The following remarks of John C. Calhoun refer to the approaching "War of 1812" with Great Britain, the supplementary war for independence which determined for all times the independence of America.

Sir, I am not insensible to the weighty importance of the proposition, for the first time submitted to this House, to compel a redress of our long list of complaints against one of the belligerents. Ac5 cording to my mode of thinking, the more serious the question, the stronger and more unalterable ought to be our convictions before we give it our support.

War, in our country, ought never to be resorted to but when it is clearly justifiable and necessary; so much so, as not to require the aid of logic to con-10 vince our understandings, nor the ardor of eloquence to inflame our passions. There are many reasons why this country should never resort to war but for causes the most urgent and necessary. It is sufficient that under a government like ours, none 15 but such will justify it in the eyes of the people; and were I'not satisfied that such is the present case, I certainly would be no advocate of the proposition now before the House.

Sir, I might prove the war, should it ensue, jus- 20 tifiable, by the express admission of the gentleman from Virginia; and necessary, by facts undoubted, and universally admitted; such as he did not pretend to controvert. The extent, duration, and character of the injuries received; the failure of 25 those peaceful means heretofore resorted to for the redress of our wrongs are my proofs that it is necessary.

Why should I mention the impressment 1 of our seamen; depredations on every branch of our 30 commerce, including the direct export trade, continued for years, and made under laws which professedly undertake to regulate our trade with other nations; negotiation resorted to, again and again,

1 Impressment, taking Americans by force and compelling them to serve on British ships; one of the causes of the war.


35 till it is become hopeless; the restrictive system

persisted in to avoid war, and in the vain expectation of returning justice? The evil still grows, and in each succeeding year swells in extent and pretension beyond the preceding.

The question, even in the opinion and by the admission of our opponents, is reduced to this single point, Which shall we do, abandon or defend our own commercial and maritime? rights,

and the personal liberty of our citizens employed 45 in exercising them? These rights are vitally at

tacked, and the war is the only means of redress. The Gentleman from Virginia has suggested none unless we consider the whole of his speech as

recommending patient and resigned submission 50 as the best remedy. Sir, which alternative this

House will embrace, it is not for me to say. I hope the decision is made already, by a higher authority than the voice of any man. It is not for

the human tongue to instill the sense of independence 55 and honor. This is the work of nature; a generous nature that disdains tame submission to wrong.


QUESTIONS FOR STUDY What were the "injuries” to which Mr. Calhoun refers ? Did they justify war?

What was the outcome of the war?

1 Restrictive system, limiting business.

2 Maritime, on the sea.


The following speeches were delivered in the trying times before the outbreak of the Civil War, when opinions were divided as to the powers of the separate States as compared with that of the United States as a whole. Feeling ran very high, and it was this question, raised over the control of slavery, that caused the war.



Hayne was born in St. Paul's parish, South Carolina, in 1791. In the War of 1812 he received the title of Colonel, and was afterwards the Attorney General of his State, and in 1822 he was elected to the Senate. He resigned in 1832, to assume the governorship of South Carolina, retired two years later, and died in 1840.

In the Senate he was one of the leaders of the Southern element. The famous debate between Hayne and Webster was brought on by an inquiry as to the sale of public lands, which raised the question of State sovereignty.

Hayne was a man of charming personality and

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