Cover image for The Union at risk : Jacksonian democracy, states' rights, and the nullification crisis
The Union at risk : Jacksonian democracy, states' rights, and the nullification crisis
Ellis, Richard E.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Oxford University Press, 1989.

Physical Description:
xi, 267 pages ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E384.3 .E466 1989 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
E384.3 .E466 1989 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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The Nullification Crisis of 1832-33 is undeniably the most important major event of Andrew Jackson's two presidential terms. Attempting to declare null and void the high tariffs enacted by Congress in the late 1820s, the state of South Carolina declared that it had the right to ignore thosenational laws that did not suit it. Responding swiftly and decisively, Jackson issued a Proclamation reaffirming the primacy of the national government and backed this up with a Force Act, allowing him to enforce the law with troops. Although the conflict was eventually allayed by a compromisefashioned by Henry Clay, the Nullification Crisis raises paramount issues in American political history. The Union at Risk studies the doctrine of states' rights and illustrates how it directly affected national policy at a crucial point in 19th-century politics. Ellis also relates theNullification Crisis to other major areas of Jackson's administration--his conflict with the National Bank, his Indian policy, and his relationship with the Supreme Court--providing keen insight into the most serious sectional conflict before the Civil War.

Author Notes

Richard E. Ellis is Professor of History at the State University of New York at Buffalo

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Most historians have agreed that William Freehling's Prelude to Civil War (CH, Jan '67) was the last word on the nullification crisis. What Ellis has done is to offer a broader, not conflicting, interpretation of the event. Ellis's focus is on the rhetoric of the arguments for and against nullification. He consciously aligns himself against the consensus school of interpretation, although not necessarily its scholarly findings. Several interesting if not entirely new issues are raised in this book. First is the easily documented claim that the doctrine of nullification was not in line with the tradition of the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions. Jackson's followers were basically the heirs of the old states' rights tradition. Therefore, instead of a bipartite argument between states' righters and nationalists, there is a complex tripartite situation: nullifiers, states' righters, and nationalists. Ellis's focus on states other than South Carolina is very important. One can disagree with some of his interpretations without damaging the basic argument of the book. A major addition to the scholarship of the Jackson period. College and university libraries.-I. Cohen, Illinois State University

Table of Contents

1 An Ambiguous Heritage: States' Rights in America, 1776-1828p. 1
2 Andrew Jackson, States' Rights, and Majority Rulep. 13
3 Andrew Jackson, Nullification, and the Southp. 41
4 The Proclamationp. 74
5 Georgia and the Nullification Crisisp. 102
6 Virginia and the Nullification Crisisp. 123
7 New York and the Nullification Crisisp. 141
8 "The Compromise"p. 158
9 The Nullification Crisis and Jacksonian Democracyp. 178
Notesp. 199
Bibliographyp. 246
Indexp. 263