View single post by 39th Miss. Walker
 Posted: Wed Jan 2nd, 2008 06:36 pm
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39th Miss. Walker
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The Tariffs were designed to do two things. Fund the Federal Government, (pay the National debt, fund internal improvements) and to protect domestic industries. However there was debate as to what industries the Tariffs would impact and how much. From the 1820's to the 1830's some tariffs increased to as much as 50% of the actual value of the good.
This wasn't just a burden on the people, but it sought to protect domestic producers as well.
At the same time there was still an ongoing debate about Jeffersonian vs Hamiltonian doctrine.
Basically the Jefferson doctrine espoused an agrarian society where the Hamiltonian doctrine espoused a Central Banking type system.
The debate on States Rights vs Nationalism boiled down to the interpretation of the Constitution particularly the phrases ..."to lay and collect taxes.....provide for the common defense and general welfare"...
The Nationalist believed a few roads could be of use militarily. The States Rightist believed few roads could be used militarily, hence were not for either common defense nor for general welfare. They were against the piecemeal funding of local projects. Since all of the proposed projects were in the North they were further against taxes being taken from the South to fund projects to benefit only the North. They were also against these piecemeal projects even if they were in the South. Projects like highways and canals.
As the number and scope of projects grew so did their cost. This caused the National Debt to not be paid off no matter how high the tariffs were raised to.
There was also the added question that if the National debt was paid where would the excess monies go? The concept of National debt and expenditures was to raise only enough money as was needed for the appropriations. Any excess then would be divided by all of the states, thereby not only funding the internal improvements but also funding the Northern states from the coffers of the Southern States.
Keep in mind here the Tariffs were not on the producers but the importers and/or consumers. So the Northern industries got the benefit of the tariffs in protectionism as well as the benefits from it's fundings.
In the early days of the tariffs the cotton and rice producers were also hit with a severe depression lasting many years. So here they were getting less for their crops and having to pay ever higher tariffs to support Northern projects which they believed were unconstitutional to boot.
Add to this the very real fear of foreign retaliation.
The cotton producers were fearful that the high tariffs would cause large cotton producers like England to seek supplies elsewhere like Egypt and India.
So in effect what they were facing was higher cost of imported, domestic and foreign, goods, a depressed price for their exports and ever higher tariffs to pay for Northern internal improvements, along with the fear of losing their markets.
The States Right doctrine was, as previous posted, for a very strict interpretation of the Constitution. Any deviation was in their minds unconstitutional, no matter the subject.
States during this period were considered Sovereign entities and as such anything not specifically spelled out in the Constitution was specifically the domain of the States.

During the 1820's had the very real fear of and actual slave insurrections. Nat Turner, Denmark Vesey and the Charleston Riots of 1826.
In all of these cases it was felt outside agitation was at least partly a cause. In response in Charleston was passed the Seaman's Act. Basically what this act did was to try and limit the interaction of free black seamen with the resident slave population. All free black seamen on ships visiting Charleston were to be held in jail until their ships left port.
Long and short of it, the matter was taken before the Federal Government and Supreme Court that ruled the act illegal. South Carolina refused to back down and sought to nullify the ruling. Despite threats from the Federal Government Charleston and South Carolina did not back down and enforced the act. It was in their minds an act of nullification and a case of States Rights to decide this question, not the Federal Government. Round one to South Carolina.
It was during this time the American Colonization Society in 1827 asked Congress for an appropriation. Essentially they were an anti slavery group that expressed the desire to send all free blacks back to Africa.
The South feared this was only a smokescreen and only the beginning of a larger debate, and were adamantly opposed. The opposed this for a number of reasons. First they were afraid of the eventual abolishment of slavery by the Northern majority. Secondly they were afraid of any agitation of the slaves which could lead to another slave insurrection. The agitation coming in the form of they hearing of this Federal debate. Finally that many in the South and especially the States Rights faction opposed any debate in Congress, as once you debate the question on a National scale you have removed the question and rights of the individual states. In their eyes a degradation of the rights reserved to them under the Constitution.
This in effect was the first real joining of the States Rights and the slavery question.

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