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Toast and Counter Toast

October 14, 2014

In 1810 South Carolina Congressman John C. Calhoun supported protective tariffs.  By 1827 Vice President Calhoun had changed his mind about the tariff.  As a Congressman, Calhoun was a supporter of the Union, but as Vice President he championed states’ rights.

On April 13, 1830 President Jackson and Vice President Calhoun each offered a toast at the Jefferson Day dinner.  When Jackson toasted the Union, Calhoun countered by toasting liberty above Union.  However, Calhoun’s notion of liberty pertained to the preservation of slavery in a republic of plantation owners.  Calhoun firmly believed and directly stated: “There cannot be a durable republic without slavery.” (Calhoun to Horace Binney, 1834)

Eight years after Calhoun’s death a Senatorial candidate from Illinois would argue the exact opposite case in a series of seven debates.  He would not be elected Senator in 1858, but two years later he would be elected President, and shortly after that election South Carolina would be the first state to secede from the Union.

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