John C. Calhoun: The Starter of the Civil War
If one person could be called the instigator of the Civil War, it was John C. Calhoun -- Unknown.
The fact that he never wanted the South to break away from the United States as it would a decade after his death, his words and life's work made him the father of secession. In a very real way, he started the American Civil War. Slavery was the foundation of the antebellum South. More than any other characteristic, it defined Southern social, political, and cultural life. It also unified the South as a section distinct from the rest of the nation. John C. Calhoun, the South's recognized intellectual and political leader from the 1820s until his death in 1850, devoted much of his remarkable intellectual energy to defending slavery. He developed a two-point defense. One was a political theory that the rights of a minority section in particular, the South needed special protecting in the federal union. The second was an argument that presented slavery as an institution that benefited all involved. John C. Calhoun's commitment to those two points and his efforts to develop them to the fullest would assign him a unique role in American history as the moral, political, and spiritual voice of Southern separatism. Born in 1782 in upcountry South Carolina, Calhoun grew up during the boom in the area's cotton economy. The son of a successful farmer who served in public office, Calhoun went to New Haven, Connecticut, in 1801 to attend Yale College. After graduating, he attended the Litchfield Law School, also in Connecticut, and studied under Tapping Reeve, an outspoken supporter of a strong federal government. Seven years after Calhoun's initial departure from South Carolina, he returned home, where he soon inherited his father's substantial land and slave holdings and won election to the U.S. Congress in 1810. Ironically, when Calhoun, the future champion of states' rights and secession, arrived in Washington, he was an...
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