Our Federal Union! It Must Be Preserved!

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"OUR FEDERAL UNION! IT MUST BE PRESERVED!" was President Andrew Jackson's volunteer toast delivered at the annual Democratic Jefferson Day dinner on 13 April 1830 in response to the South Carolina senator Robert Hayne's pronullification speech. Hayne's speech and the toasts that followed were intended to display a united front for states' rights within the party. Jackson became aware of the plan before the dinner, and he decided to pronounce finally his position on nullification and win back the initiative. To the attendees' shock, Jackson, often identified with states' rights, declared his opposition to nullification and proclaimed his belief in a supreme, perpetual Union. This episode foreshadowed Jackson's successful confrontation with the South Carolina nullifiers, led by Vice President John C. Calhoun, in 1832–1833.


Freehling, William W. Prelude to Civil War: The Nullification Controversy in South Carolina, 1816–1836. New York: Harper and Row, 1966.

———. The Road to Disunion. Vol. 1: Secessionists at Bay, 1776– 1854. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990.

Remini, Robert V. Andrew Jackson. New York: Harper Perennial, 1999.

Watson, Harry L. Liberty and Power: The Politics of Jacksonian America. New York: Hill and Wang, 1990.

Aaron J.Palmer

See alsoNullification ; Secession ; Sectionalism ; States' Rights .

By stressing the supremacy of the Union without hedges or qualifications, Jackson had effectively repudiated the whole nullification movement. A hush fell over the room while the President's meaning sank in. As Vice-President, Calhoun came next. "The Union," the Carolinian countered, his hand trembling with emotion, "next to our liberties, the most dear." He thus returned Jackson's challenge, praising the Union but insisting—in contrast to [Daniel] Webster and Jackson—that liberty and Union did not always hang together. If necessary, South Carolina would choose liberty first. The President and Vice-President were now locked in public combat, with the principles of republicanism standing between them.

source: Watson, Liberty and Power, p. 121.

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Our Federal Union! It Must Be Preserved!

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