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7 - The Transformation of Interposition: The Theory of Nullification Emerges

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 January 2023

Christian G. Fritz
Affiliation:
University of New Mexico School of Law
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Summary

The dispute over the Tariff of 1828 marked a turning point for interposition. State legislatures passed resolutions declaring protective tariffs unconstitutional, increasingly using more threatening language that echoed the doctrine of nullification John C. Calhoun advanced in the South Carolina Exposition of 1828. Calhoun’s arguments distorted Madison’s views and transformed traditional sounding the alarm interposition into an option for each state to nullify acts of the national government that it considered unconstitutional. Nullification prompted a national discussion about the nature of the Union, notably in the Webster–Hayne debate in the United States Senate in 1830. Nullifiers quoted the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions and Madison’s Report of 1800 to justify their constitutional theory, but misunderstood Madison’s theoretical right of the people to interpose in the final resort and overlooked the sounding the alarm interposition of the resolutions. Madison rejected both nullification and secession and tried to explain what he meant by a complex federalism based on divided sovereignty, ultimately failing to correct misconceptions about his resolutions.

Type
Chapter
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Monitoring American Federalism
The History of State Legislative Resistance
, pp. 196 - 226
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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