Sectionalism, States Rights, and
Democracy
Chapter 11
Sectionalism
The period of nationalism
lasted in the United States
for only a short while.
Sectionalism started to
develop between the North
and South because of
differences in economy,
culture, and political
interests. Opposite of
nationalism, sectionalism
is loyalty to a particular
region or section of a
country instead of to the
nation as a whole.
Sectionalism
Differences between the two regions first
developed in the colonial period as a
result of the different geographies of the
regions. The North’s economy developed
as a trading region of small farms and
industries, while the South’s economy
developed the plantation system
The two regions also had different
political beliefs. Southerners tended to be
Democratic-Republican followers of
Thomas Jefferson who called themselves
Republicans. New Englanders tended to
be Federalists (and later Whigs). The
political parties and the regions took
different positions on the issues of the
day.
Sectionalism
When America was first being
colonized, both regions had
slavery. After the American
Revolution, the Northern
states slowly emancipated (set
free) their slaves because there
was little need for slave labor
in the industrial North. In the
South, the invention of the
cotton gin led the South to
become even more
economically dependent upon
slave labor.
Sectionalism
Industry attracted European
immigrants to jobs and allowed
the North to have a larger
representation in the House of
Representatives. The South did
not attract immigrants in large
numbers. Instead, the
population of the South was
growing because of the natural
increase of the slave
population. Although the
international slave trade was
outlawed in 1808, the numbers
of slaves grew due to higher
birth rates and smuggling.
Sectionalism
The growing abolition movement caused
even more tension. Southerners believed
that planting was the only respectable
job, and they began to fear that the
abolitionist opinions would force them
to give up slavery. The South tried to
keep anti-slavery propaganda out of
their region, but they could not keep
abolitionists from reaching a larger and
larger Northern audience and
convincing them of the evils of the
‘peculiar institution.’ Southerners
responded in anger to abolitionists’
criticism, claiming that slavery was
actually good, because it cared for
workers throughout their lives.
Denmark Vesey Plot
In South Carolina, by the 1720’s, the
black population surpassed the white
population and there was an African
American majority in most Southern
states, and sectionalism increased as
a result of the growing slave
population. The Denmark Vesey
plot caused Southerners to become
even more fearful and controlling of
their slaves. Vesey was a free black
carpenter in Charleston who
supposedly organized a revolt of
9,000 followers to help free his race
from slavery. The revolt was
discovered before it took place and
Vesey was hanged.
Denmark Vesey Plot
Slave codes that had been
developed as a result of the
Stono rebellion during
colonial times were
strengthened to better
protect white society. The
General Assembly passed
laws that prohibited slaves
from meeting, learning to
read and write and that
regulated all aspects of
slaves’ lives.
The Missouri Compromise
As the United States continued to
grow, the North and South disagreed
on allowing slavery in new territories.
Southerners feared that if slavery
could not expand into the territories
eventually the national government
would be in the hands of the North,
slavery would be outlawed, and
Southerners would have a large
African American population that
they could not control.
Both sides became more stubborn in
their beliefs and were less and less
willing to compromise on the issue of
expansion of slavery into the
territories. This tension was very
visible in the controversy
surrounding the statehood of
Missouri.
The Missouri Compromise
Northern states were concerned
about Missouri joining the Union
as a slave state because it was the
first state admitted from the
Louisiana Purchase and it would
upset the equal balance of slave
and free states’ votes that was
balanced in the Senate. The
Missouri Compromise was
reached that admitted Missouri
as a slave state and Maine as a
free state. It also tried to avoid
future controversy by prohibiting
slavery in the Louisiana
Territory north of the 36 30’
latitude line. The South learned
from this crisis the importance of
maintaining the balance of
Senate votes from slave and free
states.
The Nullification Crisis
Political cartoon of the results
of the protective tariffs.
In the 1828, South Carolinians
opposed a high protective tariff
that was designed to raise import
taxes on goods coming from foreign
countries in order to make them
more expensive than goods
produced in the United States. This
would benefit the emerging
industries in the North. However,
since South Carolina was largely
agricultural, a protective tariff
would raise the price of the
manufactured goods that South
Carolinians would buy from the
industrial north or from Great
Britain. Therefore southerners
objected to raising the protective
tariff.
The Nullification Crisis
For example, South Carolina
could buy a chair from France
for $5, while the chairs from the
North were $8. The protective
tariff placed a tax on the chairs
from Great Britain raising the
cost to $9. South Carolina could
still by the chairs from Great
Britain, but they would have to
pay more; they could also buy
chairs from the North, but it
was still more expensive than if
they only had to pay $5. (Note:
these numbers are not real
prices.)
The Nullification Crisis
Andrew Jackson
John Calhoun
When the United States
Congress passed a protective tax
in 1828, then Vice President
John C. Calhoun, of South
Carolina, anonymously wrote a
booklet claiming that it was a
states’ right to declare such a
law unconstitutional and nullify
it through a special state
convention. If stated could do
this, then they could declare
anything they didn’t like
unconstitutional, and would
weaken the federal government.
Both Washington, D.C. and
South Carolina debated this
opinion.
The Nullification Crisis
South Carolinians split into a
States’ Rights Party, or Nullifiers,
and a Union party Unionists.
Nullifiers believed that states
should have the right to nullify laws
made by the federal government,
Unionists did not. In 1832, the
Nullifiers won control of the
General Assembly. When the United
States Congress passed another
tariff in 1832, the South Carolina
legislature called a meeting to
nullify the tariff. John C. Calhoun
resigned the vice presidency and
entered the U. S. Senate where he
was a strong voice against the tariff
and for nullification.
Nullifiers
Unionists
The Nullification Crisis
The South’s reaction to
Jackson’s Force Bill.
President Andrew Jackson
condemned the nullifiers and said it
was treason for a state to ignore
federal laws. He urged Congress to
pass a Force Bill that would
authorize the national government
to send troops to collect the tariff in
South Carolina. The crisis ended
with a compromise. Congress
lowered the tariff and the South
Carolina repealed (took back) the
nullification. However, South
Carolina then nullified the Force
Bill, thus asserting a state’s right to
declare an act of Congress to be
unconstitutional in that state. The
states’ right idea would continue to
develop.