American Antiquarian 

Programs > K-12 Programs > Teaching American History > TAH Courses, Saturday Seminars, and Summer Institutes

Search this site

Saturday Seminar:

The Nullification Crises:
An Echo of the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions?

Led by
Professor Drew McCoy, Clark University

Saturday, April 29, 2006
8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Antiquarian Hall

In 1828 and 1832, Congress passed two controversial tariff acts that South Carolinians in particular did not feel were just. Arguing that these acts protected northern manufacturing over southern farming, a South Carolina convention declared that the tariffs were "unauthorized by the constitution of the United States, and violate the true meaning and intent thereof and are null, void, and no law, nor binding upon this State." In response, President Andrew Jackson issued a proclamation in December 1832 to the citizens of South Carolina disputing the state.s right to nullify a federal law.

The Nullification Crisis raised many questions about how to determine the role of Congress and the powers of individual states. Who decides which interpretation of the Constitution is most valid? Where does the meaning lie, in the words on the page or in each generation's interpretations and needs? And as the Founding Fathers pass on, who can interpret the Constitution for a new generation? Far from being new issues for American political leaders, these questions harkened back to an earlier crisis faced by the Fathers in the 1790s. Was nullification equivalent to the Alien and Sedition Acts? Didn't the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions answer these questions? Or was Congress simply exercising the power it was given in the Constitution?

All of these questions arose at a time when James Madison, the Father of the Constitution, was still alive to argue for what he intended to be the meaning of his words. At the same time, younger contemporaries argued that the old man actually meant something much different. During this seminar, participants will explore the debates around nullification, including what Madison, Jefferson, Jackson, Calhoun, and others said about interpreting the Constitution. In the end, participants will decide for themselves whose arguments were most convincing.


To register, please contact Amy Sopcak at (508) 471-2129 or asopcak[at] Preference will be given to teachers from the Worcester, Millbury, and Sutton school districts, but teachers from other districts who are interested are encouraged to contact Amy to be placed on a waiting list.

TAH Courses, Saturday Seminars, and Summer Institutes, 2006-2008



American Antiquarian Society
185 Salisbury Street
Worcester, Massachusetts 01609-1634
Tel.: 508-755-5221
Fax: 508-753-3311
e-mail the library

Contact Us
Staff Directory
Site Map
Site Index
Last updated April 6, 2006

American Antiquarian 
Society logo

This site and all contents © 2011 American Antiquarian Society

Valid HTML 4.01!