“If I Am Judged By My Acts…”

Today in History, December 28, 1832:

John C. Calhoun, 7th Vice President of the United States, resigns to take a Senate seat from his native South Carolina. Calhoun was a short step away from the Presidency, twice. He ran unsuccessfully in 1821, and had he been able to remain as Vice President to Andrew Jackson, he almost certainly would have been assured the nomination and perhaps the election after Jackson’s two terms had ended.

But Calhoun and Jackson would get cross-ways over accusations of adultery involving the wife of the secretary of war, along with most of Jackson’s cabinet. This and their differences over nullification (the belief that the states could nullify ANY act by the federal government-admittedly a simplified explanation, but accurate), led to Calhoun’s resignation.

Calhoun was a fierce proponent of state’s rights, and as a result, of slavery.

However, a comment shortly before his death showed his loyalties, “If I am judged by my acts, I trust I shall be found as firm a friend of the Union as any man in it. If I shall have any place in the memory of posterity it will be in consequence of my deep attachment to it.”

Calhoun felt himself a patriot. He is, perhaps, a reminder that we can disagree with someone politically without assuming they are otherwise.

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