Slavery was a morally corrupt and abhorrent institution that should have never existed.
No question. No debate.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk about nullification’s history in the Southern states prior to the Civil War.
Over time, a Paul Bunyan type myth has grown suggesting that the Southern states were strong advocates of nullification as a means to protect their institution of slavery. In 2011, Rachel Maddow presented a news segment on her show about nullification. She stated that John C. Calhoun was a proponent of both slavery and nullification, more than implying the two are linked.
If that was the case, it would be pretty gross.
But it’s not.
Southern states never attempted to nullify anything in defense of slavery.
There is no dispute that Calhoun defended slavery. He was a slaver. In that sense, he’s a reprehensible character. And he also advocated for nullification.
However, Calhoun didn’t suggest using nullification as a means to maintain slavery. During the Nullification Crisis, Calhoun advocated the nullification doctrine as a means to protect Southern states against high tariffs that were impacting the Southern exports. Again, he advocated nullification against tariffs not for the promotion of slavery. During her televised segment, Maddow never mentioned the word, “tariffs.” Not once.
To demonize nullification because a slaver advocated the principle for something unrelated to slavery is nothing more than a textbook ad hominem attack.
If you bought into that false narrative, you should be forgiven. After all, conventional wisdom links the two. But now you know the truth. And if your mistaken perception that nullification was all about slavery led you to abhor the doctrine, the actual history of nullification should lead you to embrace the principles with abandon!Details