The following post is excerpted from the script for Nullify: Season 1. Watch all the videos from this series at this link – and Become a member here to support the TAC.

Did you know that James Madison advocated for nullification even in writings that are commonly pointed to claiming he opposed it?

In his famous 1830s “Notes on Nullification,” James Madison railed against a specific nullification proposal from South Carolina claiming the power of a single state to legally overturn any congressional act. Drafted by John C. Calhoun, the proposal also claimed that the federal government would immediately have to obey a single state declaring a federal act unconstitutional, and could only stop this process by getting 3/4 of the states to overturn the action of the nullifying state.

Mainstream conservative and liberal “experts” take this out of context, and intentionally misconstrue Madison’s opposition to what he called “the doctrine of South Carolina.”

At the same time, they conveniently forget to mention Madison’s other statement in support of nullification in that same document.

He wrote, “the right of nullification meant by Mr. Jefferson is the natural right, which all admit to be a remedy against insupportable oppression.”

Further proving that Madison was rejecting the specific doctrine of South Carolina and not nullification in general, he added, “It cannot be supposed for a moment that Mr. Jefferson would not revolt at the doctrine of South Carolina.”

On the other hand, the phrase “all admit” couldn’t be more clear.  James Madison indeed considered nullification a remedy against “insupportable oppression”

Michael Boldin

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