Robert Hayne – not a great guy

Podcast: The Age of Jackson : King Mob

By: American History Tellers



Jackson’s choice for Secretary of War, John Henry Eaton was surrounded by controversy for his involvement with a married woman in the “Petticoat Affair” and Jackson spent quite a lot of political capital dealing with it.

The Tariff of 1824 was an incredibly controversial political issue. It was passed to protect industry in the north but wound up increasing the prices of goods in the south and damaged their economy. Many in South Carolina accused it of being a direct attack on slavery – which it might have been.

It spawned the Nullification crisis where South Carolina had a state convention to declare this law null and void within their state borders. It was expected that Jackson would side with the south on this, but it was more important for him to preserve the concept of a federal government.

Jackson’s own vice president, John Calhoun penned an anonymous editorial supporting nullification. It was a contentious issue between them and caused Jackson to declare his running mate in the presidential election of 1928 would be Martin Van Buren.

Henry Clay proposed a compromise where the tariffs would be slowly walked back but that Jackson would be given the authority to use the military on states that refused to obey the laws of the federal government.

The Webster-Hayne speeches were some of the most popular and contentious on the Senate floor. Worth reading.

Jackson hated the Second Bank of the United States and vetoed the renewal of its charter.  His reasoning for it was that it was an overreach of federal power, despite it already having been decided as constitutional by the Supreme Court.

His anti bank stance was extremely populist and was one of the keys to his re-election in 1832.


Looking at history from a modern perspective, Robert Hayne was a real piece of shit. He said this:

If slavery, as it now exists in this country, be an evil, we of the present day found it ready made to our hands. Finding our lot cast among a people, whom God had manifestly committed to our care, we did not sit down to speculate on abstract questions of theoretical liberty. We met it as a practical question of obligation and duty. We resolved to make the best of the situation in which Providence had placed us, and to fulfil the high trust which had developed upon us as the owners of slaves, in the only way in which such a trust could be fulfilled, without spreading misery and ruin throughout the land. We found that we had to deal with a people whose physical, moral, and intellectual habits and character, totally disqualified them from the enjoyment of the blessings of freedom. We could not send them back to the shores from whence their fathers had been taken; their numbers forbade the thought, even if we did not know that their condition here is infinitely preferable to what it possibly could be among the barren sands and savage tribes of Africa; and it was wholly irreconcileable with all our notions of humanity to tear asunder the tender ties which they had formed among us, to gratify the feelings of a false philanthropy.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s