Nullification Controversy

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. The nullification controversy of 1832 was a major milestone in the national debate over federal versus state authority. Coming at a time when agitation over slavery and other issues that tended to divide the country along sectional lines was growing, the nullification controversy brought the states’ rights debate into sharp focus. The root of the problem of protective tariffs is that they are almost by definition designed to assist certain segments of the economy. In the era in question, the country was distinctly divided along economic lines. Because a large percentage of Southern capital was put into land, cotton, and slaves, less capital was available for industrial for manufacturing enterprises, since in that volatile period in history they such investments were far riskier than cotton, the prime resource of the booming textile industry. Economists have determined that a reasonable expectation for return on investments in cotton was 10% per annum, an excellent return at any time. But because the cotton South did not produce much in the way of farm equipment, tools or other manufactured goods, they were dependent upon manufactured goods produced mostly in the north or in foreign countries. High protective tariffs on manufactured goods, designed to aid American manufacturing, had the effect of raising prices on goods purchased throughout the country, but needed most heavily in South. Support for manufacturing interests was strong in the north, where the population had grown faster, meaning that there were more members in the House of Representatives from the North then from the South. Thus high protective tariffs were regularly passed. In 1828 Andrew Jackson's supporters proposed a very high tariff bill that would allow Jackson to look friendly toward manufacturing in the North, while in the South his supporters to claim that the proposed tariff was so high that it would never pass, and that they therefore had nothing to worry about. But then the tariff did...
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