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History of South Carolina

CHAPTER XXXVIII

STATE VS. FEDERAL AUTHORITY

The chief home issue of the campaign in 1830 for the election of members of the Legislature and governor, as well as an intendant of Charleston and a representative to Congress from that district, was whether a convention should be called to give voice to the predominance of public opinion on the tariff and the most effective way to prevent its enforcement in South Carolina. As a rule, those who were against nullification which took the form of physical resistance to the general government, were also opposed to calling a convention, fearing that the rising tide of public indignation against the operation of the American System would sweep all before it in such a gathering, and force such a radical expression of sentiments as to take the form of a revolution against the general government and a distinct threat to the Union. In fact, though the rule was not unanimous, the Unionists were generally arrayed agairist a convention and the State Rights leader favored it. Like General Williams, the Unionists thought the tariff the acme of oppression for the South, but thought best to suffer its inequalities, while persistently laboring to repeal or modify them, rather than to threaten the very life of the Union by a resort to arms and civil warfare.

The majority of the up-country people, swayed ever more and more by the logic and personality of Calhoun, were advocates of extreme State Rights. There were noteworthy exceptions to the rule, the most conspicuous being Benjamin Franklin Perry, the eloquent and scholarly young lawyer, who, in January, 1830, had established the Greenville Mountaineer. Wherein he "professed to feel certain that the leaders and advocates of Nullification did not apprehend the dangers which he foresaw would result from those doctrines," although he did not impugn the motives of such men as John C. Calhoun, Robert Y. Hayne, George McDuffie and James Hamilton, Jr.

DIVIDED ON "CONVENTION" OR "No CONVENTION"

On the 20th of September, a State Rights meeting, promoted by advocates of the convention and fairly representative of citizens from the interior of the State, was held in Columbia.* The great majority of these not only favored a convention, but openly declared for State action, immediate and decisive, though Judge Langdon Cheves demanded instead a program of co-operation with the rest of the South -a program which twenty years later became the platform of the controlling party in the State. Judge J. P. Richardson also spoke * Dr. Chauncey S. Boucher's "Nullification Controversy in South Carolina."

Vol. II-1

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