We are charged by Providence, not only with the happiness of this great rising people, but, in a considerable degree, with that of the human race. We have a government of a new order, perfectly distinct from all others which have preceded it--a government founded on the rights of man; resting, not on authority, not on prejudice, not on superstitution, but reason. If it shall succeed, as fondly hoped by its founders, it will be the commencement of a new era in human affairs. All civilized governments must, in the course of time, conform to its principles.
in Richard K. Cralle, ed.,
The Works of John C. Calhoun II
(New York: 1854-7), 191.
I consider the Tariff, but as the occasion, rather than the real cause of the present unhappy state of things. The truth can no longer be disguised, that the peculiar domestick institutions of the Southern States, and the consequent direction which that and her soil and climate have given to her industry, has placed them in regard to taxation and appropriation in opposite relation to the majority of the Union; against the danger of which, if there be no protective power in the reserved rights of the states, they must in the end be forced to rebel, or submit to have... their domestick institutions exhausted by Colonization and other schemes, and themselves & children reduced to wretchedness. Thus situatied, the denial of the right of the state to interfere constitutionally in the last resort, more alarms the thinking than all other causes.
Letter to Virgil Maxcy on looming
September 11, 1830. Galloway-Maxcy- Markoe Papers.
I hold that in the present state of civilization, where two races of different origin, and distinguished by color, and other physical differences, as well as intellectual, are brought together, the relation now existing in the slave-holding States between the two, is, instead of an evil, a good--a positive good....There has never yet existed a wealthy and civilized society in which one portion of the community did not, in the point of fact, live on the labor of the other....I fearlessly assert that the existing relation between the two races in the South, against which these blind fanatics are waging war, forms the most solid and durable foundation on which to rear free and stable political institutions.
From 1836 debates over South's
demands for restrictions on
abolitionist newspapers and petitions
Works II, 488.
...if left to your own popularity,-- without the active and direct influence of the President and the power and pa- tronage of the Government, acting through a mock convention of the people,--instead of the highest, you would, in all proba- bility, have been the lowest of the candidates.
To Martin Van Buren after his presidential
victory, but before he took office (Calhoun
still presided over Senate as Vice President)
Congressional Debates, XII, Part I, 555
...if your letter would fall into the hands of those who are to come after us, they would infer from the topicks you urge on me t o adopt, the course you recommend, and the remarks with which you accompany them, that I was a vain, light headed, ill judging and ambitious man, ignorant alike of the nature of the times, and my own strength, and constantly leading myself and those who follow me, into false positions, and aiming constantly at the Presidency, and destined constantly to be defeated. I know you do not and connot so think of me. No one knows better than yourself, that in the heat of youthful years, I never sought, or desidered the Presidency, but through a faithful dischange of my duty, and as an instrument of high usefulness and distinguished service.
Letter to Duff Green, editor of the pro-Calhoun,
pro-states rights United States Telegraph:
July 27, 1837
The Union is doomed to dissolution, there is no mistaking the signs. I am satisfied in my judgment even were the questions which now agitate Congress settled to the satis- faction and the concurrence of the Southern States, it would not aver, or materially delay, the catastrophe. I fix its probable occurrence within twelve years or three Presidential terms. You and others of your age, will probably live to see it; I shall not. The mode by which it will be is not so clear; it may be brought about in a manner that none now foresee. But the probability is it will explode in a Presidential election.
Letter to James M. Mason of Virginia
shortly before his death on March 31,
reflecting on the Compromise of 1850:
The Public Life and Diplomatic
Correspondence of James Murray Mason .
Roanoke, VA: 1903, 72-73
The great ends in his system of life, whether public or private, he has ever held to be fixed by reason and general rules; but the time and the mode of ob- taining them he regarded as questions of expediency, to be determined by the circum-
stances under which he is called to act.... Seeing clearly his own ends, which have been long fixed by observation and reflection, he judges, with a rare sagacity, of the nearest practicable approach which can be made to them under the cicumstances, and advances forward to the boundaries assigned by prudence without fear of the enemy, and halts when he has taken as much ground as he can occupy, with- out regard to the remonstrances of his followers, who take their counsels merely from zeal, and do not properly ascertain the limits upon human power, and the controlling force of events.... He uses time to control circumstances, and directs them both to his great oject, which he is ever on the the march sooner or later to attain. This it is which makes him the master-statesman of his age, and thus he has been able to accomplish so much with such inconsiderable means.
From an anonymous biography which some
historians believe to have been authored
The Life of John C. Calhoun
(New York: Harper, 1843), 52-3.