Last Hope of Liberty: Unionism and Nullification in South Carolina, 1828-1836

Neumann, Brian, History - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Varon, Elizabeth, AS-History, University of Virginia
Gallagher, Gary, AS-History, University of Virginia

This dissertation examines the partisan divisions within South Carolina during the nullification crisis. In November 1832, a state convention issued the Ordinance of Nullification, declaring two protective tariffs unconstitutional and threatening to secede if the federal government tried to enforce them. Twenty-five thousand men volunteered to defend the state against federal "tyranny." Another 9,000 South Carolinians, however, vowed to fight against their own neighbors to preserve the Union. Previous scholars have insightfully analyzed the state's Nullifiers, but they have devoted much less attention to the Union men who resisted nullification. For decades, these Union men had viewed America as a fragile experiment in self-government--the "last hope of human liberty." Now, as liberal revolutions faltered in Europe, the crisis in South Carolina seemed to take on global significance. Union men feared that their country might fail at the very moment the world needed its example the most. Fueled by these convictions, they rallied to avert civil war and save the Union--and the cause of liberty--from destruction.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Nullification, South Carolina, Unionist, Union Party, Election of 1832, States Rights, Revolutions of 1830, Jacksonian era, Gender History, Political Culture, John C. Calhoun, Andrew Jackson, Benjamin Perry, Robert Y. Hayne, James Hamilton
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