PRELUDE TO CIVIL WAR by William W. Freehling


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Subtitled ""The Nullification Controversy in South Carolina, 1816-36"", this book tells of ""one of the most dramatic events in American history"", the attempt of South Carolina in 1832 to nullify the Jackson ""Tariff of Abominations"" of 1828. Dealing at length with the economic, social and political causes of South Carolina's preoccupation with nullification, the author also defines the doctrine itself, which held that the Supreme Court could merely define Federal laws, not enforce them, leaving the right to nullify them to the states. Southern crusades against high protective tariffs were commonplace before the Civil War; South Carolina turned her crusade into a bloodless preview of the outbreak of the War thirty years later. Believing that tariffs favored abolitionists and uneasy about slavery, South Carolina, with a slave population far outnumbering the whites, used the crusade as a weapon against abolition as well as against the tariffs, threatening to secede if the tariff laws were not nullified. The campaign, adorned with oratory and duels, won in the state, but finding herself without other Southern support South Carolina gradually subsided, turning instead to an increasingly virulent defense of slavery. Well written and carefully documented but too specialized for the average reader, this book fills a gap in the annals of pre-Civil War America and belongs in all comprehensive libraries of the war.

Pub Date: June 8th, 1966
Publisher: Harper & Row