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Today in Charleston History: March 18

1758

A report about British quartering (housing of troops) was presented to the Assembly. Prepared by Peter Manigault, Christopher Gadsden, Charles Pinckney, Henry Laurens and Rawlins Lowndes, the report stated:

Officers and Soldiers cannot, legally or constitutionally, be quarter’d in private Houses, without the special Consent of the Owners or Possessors of such Houses. 

1782 – Births.
Calhoun as a young man

Calhoun as a young man

John Caldwell Calhoun was born in Abbeville, in the South Carolina backcountry. His mother was described as being “full of intelligence and energy … strong will and temper” – attributes her son would most definitely inherit.

During his life Calhoun became one of the most influential politicians of the 19th century. He was educated at Yale served in South Carolina’s legislature and was elected to the United States House of Representatives serving three terms. In 1812, Calhoun and Henry Clay, two famous “warhawks”, who preferred war to the “putrescent pool of ignominous peace”, convinced the House to declare war on Great Britain.

Calhoun was secretary of war under President James Monroe from 1817 to 1825 and ran for president in the 1824 election along with four others, John Q. Adams, Henry Clay, Crawford, and Andrew Jackson. However, Calhoun withdrew from the race, due to Jackson’s support, and ran for vice president unopposed. Calhoun was vice president of the United States in 1824 under John Quincy Adams and was re-elected in 1828 under Andrew Jackson.

Jackson was for the Tariff of 1828 (Tariff of Abominations) and caused Calhoun to be opposed to Jackson, which led to Calhoun’s resignation in 1832. Because he could not do anything about Jackson’s views toward tariffs, which benifitted only industrial North and hurt slaveholding South, John C. Calhoun became the first vice president to resign.

Calhoun as an elder statesman

Calhoun as an elder statesman

Calhoun wrote an essay about this conflict, “The South Carolina Exposition and Protest”, in which he asserted nullification of federal laws, and in 1832 the South Carolina legislature did just that. This gave Calhoun the nickname “the Great Nullifier.” 

The next year in the Senate Calhoun and Daniel Webster opposed each other over slavery and states’ rights in a famous debate. In 1844 President John Tyler appointed Calhoun secretary of state. In later years he was reelected to the Senate, where he supported the Texas Annexation and defeated the Wilmot Proviso.

John Caldwell Calhoun died in Washington, D.C. on March 31, 1850 and was buried in St. Phillips Churchyard in Charleston. In 1957, United States Senators honored Calhoun as one of the five greatest senators of all time.

 

Calhoun's tomb in St. Philip's cemetery

Calhoun’s tomb in St. Philip’s cemetery

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