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John Caldwell Calhoun (1782-1850) was an American politician from South Carolina. He was known for his pro slavery stance and as the defender of the South. The “cast-iron man” served as a Congressman, Secretary of War, Secretary of State, and Vice President. For more information on the John C. Calhoun read the fact file below or download our comprehensive worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
- John C. Calhoun was born on March 18, 1782, in Abbeville District, South Carolina. He was the fourth child of Patrick Calhoun of Scotch-Irish lineage.
- At the age of 14, young John took over the management of their farm after the death of his father.
- In 1802, his brothers financed his education at Yale College in Connecticut. Yale’s president, Timothy Dwight, became his mentor after series of debates regarding the Jeffersonian democratic belief and republicanism. Two years later, he graduated valedictorian and continued his studies at the Law School in Litchfield, Connecticut.
- On January 11, John married Floride Bonneau Colhoun, with whom he had 10 children. They attended the Episcopal Church.
- In 1810, Calhoun’s political career began after being elected at the House of Representatives. Along with Henry Clay from Kentucky, he became one of the leaders of the War Hawks.
- As a nationalist seeking to preserve American honor, Calhoun’s committee demanded the War of 1812 against Britain.
- He became President James Monroe’s Secretary of War until 1825. One of his priorities was the advancement of the navy.
- In 1824, Calhoun sought the presidential post along with Andrew Jackson, John Quincy Adams, Henry Clay, and William Crawford. The outcome was that John Quincy Adams won the presidency, while Calhoun was elected by the College as vice president. In 1828, John was re-elected as the Vice President after supporting Andrew Jackson’s presidential bid.
- Vice President Calhoun composed the “South Carolina Exposition and Protest”, rejecting the tariff system favoring the North. Specifically, it promoted the principle of nullification. After the Nullification Crisis, he resigned as vice president to become a senator. He became one of Jackson’s critics.
“…That, in a contest between the State and the General Government, if the resistance be limited on both sides to the civil process, the State, by its inherent sovereignty, standing upon its reserved powers, will prove too powerful in such a controversy, and must triumph over the Federal Government, sustained by its delegates and limited authority…”
An excerpt from Calhoun’s “The South Carolina Exposition and Protest”
- On December 29, 1832, Calhoun took his seat in the Senate. He was sometimes affiliated with the Whig Party, composed of anti-Jackson politicians. By 1837, Calhoun supported Jackson’s successor, Van Buren. He supported the combat efforts against the Panic of 1837 and promoted the establishment of the Independent Treasury.
- By April 10, 1844, Calhoun was appointed as Secretary of State by John Tyler, who succeeded after President William Harrison’s death.
- He opposed the Mexican-American War during his second term in the Senate.
- In Calhoun’s political career, he led the proslavery faction. Like his father, he believed one’s social standing depended on the ownership of slaves. For Calhoun, the system of slavery was regarded as positive.
- John C. Calhoun died on March 31, 1850, at the age of 68, in Washington D.C. His cause of death was tuberculosis.
John C. Calhoun Worksheets
This bundle contains 11 ready-to-use John C. Calhoun Worksheets that are perfect for students who want to learn more about John Caldwell Calhoun (1782-1850) who was an American politician from South Carolina. He was known for his pro slavery stance and as the defender of the South.
Download includes the following worksheets:
- John C. Calhoun Facts
- The Cast-iron Man
- Famous Contemporaries
- Nullification Crisis Word Search
- Ticking Clock
- In the Name of Calhoun
- Out of the Box
- Issue on Slavery
- Speech Analysis
- J.F.K’s Greatest Senators
- Picture Me
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