Of course, every establishment historian says tariffs were not a major issue in American history. See for example this episode of the Jon Stewart Show where a group of “esteemed” historians ganged up on the Judge.

Except they were.

Some know it, but when establishment historians do bring up tariffs, they are typically placed within the context of…you guessed it…slavery.

In other words, the South only cared about tariffs because they hurt agrarian domestic slavery. William Freehling helped build his career on this position without truly understanding either nullification or the original Constitution.

What about the North? Why did the North care about tariffs? Could it be because they either helped or hurt the Northern economy? Of course, no one suggests that Northerners liked or disliked tariffs because they kept their wallets fat or empty and their malnourished and abused factory workers toiling away making money for “the man.”

Southerners knew the score about tariffs from the beginning. There is a reason Virginian George Mason insisted on making “navigation laws” illegal in the Constitution. Translation: navigation laws were tariffs that would in his mind only benefit the North.

Even Northerners at one time opposed tariffs and believed protective measures were unconstitutional. They were trying to protect their own economic interests, but that would not be selfish. No. Jefferson’s embargo was the selfish move.

So when South Carolina made noise about the 1828 Tariff of Abominations their argument that protective measures were unconstitutional had been floated before, in the North, by none other than Daniel Webster, the same Daniel Webster that called nullification “disunion.” The same Daniel Webster that advocated nullification and secession during the War of 1812.

Doesn’t matter because Webster was not from the South. You see, only Southerners advanced such “dangerous” ideas. In fact, Northerners were the first to broach the idea, only five years after the Constitution was ratified. (This is why you need my course on secession at the McClanahan Academy).

I think it is more fun to poke holes in the Northern treasury of counterfeit virtue than to do just about anything else. I do so in Episode 128 of The Brion McClanahan Show. It’s Webster vs. Calhoun all over again, only this time, I show how they agree on tariffs, nullification, and secession.

Brion McClanahan
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