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What were the effects of the Nullification Crisis?

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Quick Answer

The main effect of the Nullification Crisis was to establish the supremacy of the federal government over state governments. It also eventually became a factor in causing the Southern states to nullify the Union itself, bringing about their secession and the creation of the Confederacy.

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Full Answer

Thomas Jefferson and James Madison first advocated the doctrine of nullification in the late 18th century. Jefferson proposed that the states had the right to discern if the federal government had overstepped its bounds, and could negate any laws they felt inappropriate within their own jurisdictions. While protesting the Tariff of 1828, Vice President John C. Calhoun, who was from South Carolina, argued that states had veto power over enforcement of federal law. When a compromise Tariff of 1832 only slightly modified the situation, the South Carolina legislature called a state convention and adopted the Ordinance of Nullification, which declared both tariffs null and void for the state of South Carolina.

President Andrew Jackson responded aggressively. Congress passed the Force Bill, which allowed him to send in the military to collect the tariffs. They also passed a compromise tariff bill, mollifying the South Carolina legislature and causing them to withdraw the Ordinance of Nullification. However, unrest in the Southern states continued, eventually leading to the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861.

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