From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
WikiProject Disambiguation
WikiProject icon This page is within the scope of WikiProject Disambiguation, an attempt to structure and organize all disambiguation pages on Wikipedia. If you wish to help, you can edit the page attached to this talk page, or visit the project page, where you can join the project or contribute to the discussion.


In more recent times nullification has reappeared, most notably in the form of the nullification of the USA PATRIOT Act by Alaska and (to a lesser extent) Hawaii.

Can someone point to the actual resolution? It's not uncommon for a state to pass a symbolic resolution protesting a federal act, or even of establishing a policy of non-enforcement of federal laws, but it would be odd for a state to actually attempt to nullify a federal act with any real expectation that the nullification would stick, and I have my doubts as to whether Alaska actually tried to do this.

Roadrunner 18:58, 14 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Ordinance of Nullification[edit]

This "see also" link just redirects to Nullification. Is there a reason?

Nullification article[edit]

I think there should be an article called Nullification that describes the legal doctrine of nullification. There doesn't seem to be any page like that. There is Nullification Crisis, but that is a specific historical event, not a general discussion of legal doctrines. The current content of this page should be moved to Nullification (disambiguation). Anybody agree/disagree? --JW1805 (Talk) 22:14, 8 March 2006 (UTC)

I think you're right, this page seems to be about the Nullification Crisis, so I think the content should be merged there. This page should either be specifically about the legal doctrine of nullification, or a dab page (I prefer the former, with a link to Nullification (disambiguation) at the top. Let's get input from the original writer before we do it though. delldot | talk 03:06, 18 February 2007 (UTC)
Whoops, looking back through the history, this was a dab page until a user replaced the content with the current article. I'm going to replace the dab page, since that could be necessary, and move the (very well written and referenced!) material here for now until it can be merged into Nullification Crisis, if that's what we decide to do with it. delldot | talk 03:10, 18 February 2007 (UTC)

Removed article content[edit]

Here's the content I removed from the dab page per above notes and note on User talk:WBost22. delldot | talk 04:19, 18 February 2007 (UTC)


The controversy concerning the idea of nullification began with a protective tariff the Tariff of 1828 also called the Tariff of Abominations. Many South Carolinians believed the tariff to be unconstitutional and, with the help of James Hamilton and Robert Barnwell Rhett Sr., formed a faction of supporters.[1] President Andrew Jackson angered these Southerners and led them to employ the doctrine of nullification, which had been developed by John C. Calhoun, when he refused a reduction of this tariff.[1] In response to President Jackson’s actions, South Carolina organized an assembly that is said to have marked the origination of the strong anti-nationalist movement in the state.[2] The convention also made it known that any forceful action by the Federal government would be cause for South Carolina to secede.[1] This represented the intense conflict that had arisen from this situation because the nullifiers were previously committed to peacefully resisting the tariffs.[3] Although some historians maintain that there were men so convinced that separation from the Union was right that they used the tariff controversy as a cover.[2] The contradictory response among Northerners was that the Union was the superior power and that its authority would prevail.[4] These Northerners believed that the states had given up their individual sovereignties when they agreed to join the Union and that the doctrine of secession did not actually exist.[4] Vice President Calhoun, in his personal correspondences, expressed his conviction that the South might experience “a shock” if a “speedy and effective check upon [the tariff system that had been causing so much dissent] were not soon applied.”[2] Throughout the year of 1828, newspapers discouraged any ideas or comments that could be interpreted as suggestions of disunion and they also observed that the question of disunion was becoming a serious concern and that people were asked to resist the laws and political bonds of the union.[2] Because of the ambiguity of the Constitution about sovereign power, each side of this conflict could use the Constitution to support their arguments.[4]

The Virginia-Kentucky Resolutions[edit]

Authored anonymously by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, the Virginia-Kentucky Resolutions protested the passage of the Alien and Sedition Acts and the nature of the federal Union.[5] The argument concerning the Alien and Sedition Acts was that they were unconstitutional and that they encroached upon the rights and liberties of the states and its citizens.[6] These writings questioned the role of the federal government and argued that it had only limited powers. The papers also questioned, without suggestion or affirmation, who should be the judge as to when the federal government was overstepping its powers.[5] One of the documents did, however, suggest the theory of divided sovereignty. Published in 1798 and 1799, these documents greatly influenced John C. Calhoun in the formation of his arguments of state sovereignty and nullification.[5]

Contributing to Secession[edit]

Once passed, the Tariff of 1832 frustrated South Carolina even more because President Jackson was not yielding on the issue of the Tariff of 1828 and the new tariff made hardly any changes.[7] The doctrine of nullification completely opened up the path for the government of South Carolina to contest the power of the federal government in this situation and to declare the Tariffs of 1828 and 1832 null and void.[1] South Carolina also took advantage of an opportunity later to again refute the actions of the federal government and to declare the Force Act, which would allow Jackson the ability to use the military to collect federal revenues, null and void as a last demonstration of state strength.[1]


The Compromise Tariff of 1833 provided for a continuing reduction of taxes over a nine-year period. The purpose of the nine-year process was to give the manufacturers a chance to acclimate themselves to the changes in business, allowing the document to be a true compromise, considering the arguments of each side.[8] Once the Compromise Tariff was passed, South Carolina repealed its Ordinance of Nullification.[1] With legitimate arguments, both sides of this conflict claimed victory. The Nationalists affirmed that the power of the federal government had prevailed while South Carolina maintained that nullification was a useful method for sustaining states’ rights.[1] Even after the immediate distress of this controversy settled, the next three decades dealt with the ideas of secession and states’ rights as applicable to the Southern states’ defense of slavery.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h “Nullification Controversy.” Encyclopedia of the Confederacy. 4 vols. Simon & Schuster, 1993. Reproduced in History Resource Center. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale Group. Page 1.
  2. ^ a b c d Boucher, Chauncey S.; The Nullification Controversy in South Carolina, 1816-1836; Chicago, Ill., the University of Chicago Press, 1916.
  3. ^ Ellis, Richard E.; The Union at Risk: Jacksonian Democracy, States' Rights, and the Nullification Crisis; New York: Oxford University Press, 1987. Page 77.
  4. ^ a b c “Secession.” Encyclopedia of the Confederacy. 4 vols. Simon & Shuster, 1993. Reproduced in History Resource Center. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale Group. Page 2.
  5. ^ a b c "Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions." Dictionary of American History. 7 vols. Charles Scribner's Sons, 1976. Reproduced in History Resource Center. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale Group.
  6. ^ "Commentary on Replies to the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions." American Journey Online: The Constitution and Supreme Court. Primary Source Microfilm, 1999. Reproduced in History Resource Center. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale Group.
  7. ^ Cite error: The named reference The Nullification Controversy, 1832 - 1833 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  8. ^ Cite error: The named reference Ellis. was invoked but never defined (see the help page).

Which President?[edit]

Which President was the one who supported this again? I seem to remember he was incremental in supporting this policy... —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 18:37, 13 May 2007 (UTC).

  • This is an old comment, but you are probably thinking of John C. Calhoun, who was a vice president who supported Southern rights and nullification. -BaronGrackle 19:44, 9 August 2007 (UTC)

21st-century Europe[edit]

Should the present-day usage in Europe be mentioned in this article? My understanding is that legislation passed by the European Parliament has the force of law in member states unless the legislative assembly of the member state has nullified it (although I don't know if they use the word "nullify"). Michael Hardy (talk) 00:52, 12 November 2010 (UTC)