Tariff Act 4 Stat. 270 (1828)

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TARIFF ACT 4 Stat. 270 (1828)

Known as the "Tariff of Abominations," this act was designed to embarrass john quincy adams and help andrew jackson win the Presidency. Jacksonians controlling the House Committee on Manufactures wrote a tariff with excessively high duties for iron, hemp, flax, and numerous other raw materials. The bill's authors believed Adams's New England supporters would have to oppose the bill, and that the failure to pass a tariff would cost Adams the Middle States and the election. When New Englanders tried to amend the bill they were voted down by a coalition of southern and Middle State representatives organized by martin van buren. The plan ultimately failed when representatives from everywhere but the South voted for the bill. Legislatures in South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, and Virginia denounced the act. john c. calhoun anonymously wrote the South Carolina exposition and protest which laid out a theory of state nullification of federal laws. While not adopting the Exposition, the South Carolina legislature printed 5,000 copies for distribution and declared the tariff unconstitutional. Although nullification was defeated at this juncture, and the tariff was amended in 1832, the 1828 act set the stage for the nullification crisis of 1832–1833.

Paul Finkelman


Freehling, William W. 1965 Prelude to Civil War: The Nullification Controversy in South Carolina, 1816–1836. New York: Harper & Row.