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Force Act 4 Stat. 632 (1833)

FORCE ACT 4 Stat. 632 (1833)

Restive over the threat to slavery that they saw implicit in the growth of federal power, South Carolinians devised doctrines of nullification and secession in response to the Tariff Act of 1828. When the Tariff of 1832 failed to satisfy their demands for reduction, a special convention adopted an Ordinance of Nullification (1832), nullifying the tariff. President andrew jackson responded with his proclamation to the people of south carolina (1832), denouncing the theory of secession, and with a request to Congress to enact legislation that would simultaneously avoid a military clash with the state over the collection of duties and permit a more prompt resort to federal force if confrontation could not be evaded.

Congress responded with the Force Act (Act of 2 March 1833), reaffirming the power of the President to use federal military and naval force to suppress resistance to the enforcement of federal laws, even if the source of resistance was the state itself. The act empowered him to call up states' militias after issuing a proclamation calling on those obstructing to disperse. It also permitted him to revise the procedure for collecting customs duties. Though South Carolina subsequently nullified the Force Act, federal authority had been vindicated.

William M. Wiecek


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

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