Nullification – What is that?

Thomas Jefferson, who most of us would call a creditable source, called Nullification the “rightful remedy” to the uncontrollable quest for government power.

In an oration in 1772, John Adams declared that, “Liberty, under every conceivable form of government is always in danger.” 26 years later, he personified that very danger when he signed into law the Alien and Sedition Acts, which made criticizing the president and others in the federal government a crime. Adams showed us that government is the greatest threat to liberty because it always tends toward the destruction of the individual’s natural rights.

In 1798 Thomas Jefferson along with James Madison, another creditable source, penned the Kentucky and Virginia resolutions in opposition to the Alien and Sedition Actc, which they felt violated the 1st Amendment rights of free speech and was therefore unconstitutional.  This was the first time that the term “Nullification” was used in political discourse.

Jefferson went on to say that any law that was unconstitutional, was in fact, no law at all!

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The Jeffersonian Position

From Thomas Jefferson: Writings (Library of America, 1984), pp. 1056–1057 is a January 26, 1799 letter from Jefferson to Edbridge Gerry (inventor of “gerrymandering”) explaining his political philosophy: “I do then, with sincere zeal, wish an inviolable preservation of our present federal constitution, according to the true sense in which it was adopted by the…

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