Jackson A Strong President

Toward the end of his first term in office, Jackson was forced to come to grips with the state of South Carolina on the issue of the protective tariff. Businessmen in the state had hoped that Jackson would use his presidential power to modify tariff laws they had long opposed. In their view, all the benefits of protection were going to northern manufacturers, and while the country as a whole grew richer, South Carolina grew poorer, with its planters bearing the burden of higher prices. Nevertheless, when Congress enacted a new tariff law in 1832, Jackson signed it with out hesitation.

South Carolina then organized a "States' Rights Party," endorsing the principle, called "nullification," that a delegate convention within a state could declare an act of Congress unconstitutional and null and void within its borders. South Carolina even threatened to secede from the Union if the Congress passed any law to use force against it.

In response to this threat, Jackson, in November 1832, sent seven small naval vessels and a man-of-war to Charleston with orders to be ready for instant action. On December 10, he issued a resounding proclamation against the nullifiers. South Carolina, the President declared, stood on "the brink of insurrection and treason," and he appealed to the people of the state to reassert their allegiance to that Union for which their ancestors had fought.