The 13 colonies decided to stop eating at the kids table and become an officially independent union of states. A young Andrew Jackson got his first taste of battle and felt right at home.
Do not insult Jackson's wife. He would probably rise from the grave just to defend her honor. Jackson did deeply love his wife, but not everyone else felt the same way. In 1806, a man named Charles Dickinson publicly shamed her, so naturally A. J. wanted to fight about it. Tough as nails, Jackson killed Dickinson. Jackson was shot during the duel, permanently leaving a lead bullet lodged right next to his heart.
As a general during the War of 1812, Jackson went to New Orleans, kicked some butt, and took some names. The British lost around 2,000 men during the battle, while the Americans lost only around 70 men. It was a massive upset victory. Jackson got national recognition as a rock-star war hero. But he just couldn't avoid scandal either. He declared martial law on the city (he had very debatable authority to do so) and had everyone who didn't cozy up to that idea arrested.
Despite winning a plurality of the popular and electoral vote, Jackson lost the election when the House of Representatives gave the W to John Quincy Adams.
Adams took office after one of the most scandalous elections in all of U.S. history—and the Jacksonians never quite forgave him for it. He wasn't a terrible president, but he made some powerfully bitter enemies. Jackson supporters made sure his tenure was a nightmare and thus a one-off.
It was called the "Tariff of Abominations" by the South. Since the tariff was passed not that long before Jackson took office, he had to deal with all the fallout. Adams was probably thinking to himself, "I am soooo over this mess."
Old Hickory beat John Quincy Adams in a landslide. Calhoun was elected Vice-President.
Calhoun secretly penned an exposition on why the "Tariff of Abominations" was terrible for South Carolina and violating their rights. In it, he argued that the states had the right to nullify a law if they found it unconstitutional. South Carolina officially protested the tariff.
Jackson was a man to hold grudges. Rachel died from a heart attack, and Jackson blamed all of his political enemies for killing her. He wanted those that had called her a harlot and a bigamist for all those years to know that they had Rachel's blood on their hands.
Jackson's visions of a people's president won over the hearts of those who could vote, and he took office as an establishment-bashing populist outsider in 2017—uh, we mean, 1829.
This was a totally a "he said, she said" fight. There were rumors that Jackson's Secretary of War John Eaton and his wife Peggy were involved in some scandalous affair. It got so bad that all the other politicians' wives refused to even look at her. Remembering how much rumors and innuendo did to his own wife, the whole thing resulted in Jackson firing those politicians with mean-girl wives.
Senators Robert Haynes (South Carolina) and Daniel Webster (Massachusetts) could sense that trouble was a-brewing in the Union. For a solid week, they took on the states' versus federal rights issue.
The act allowed the government to remove Native Americans from where they were living and place them in open land further west. The theory was that indigenous populations would voluntarily move, but in reality forced expulsion commonly took place. This eventually resulted in the infamous "Trail of Tears." (In his farewell address, Jackson assured the nation that everyone was better off this way and that the government would take good fatherly care of the Indians. How'd that work out for them?)
By 1832, Jackson realized that he might have woken up a sleeping beast in South Carolina. So, he decided to pass another tariff bill to fix the worst parts of the Tariff of 1828, in the hopes of preventing an outright revolt from the Southern states. Even though this new tariff slightly reduced taxes on goods, South Carolina still found it totally unsatisfactory.
South Carolina got a Nullification Convention together—and this time, they got serious. They passed a resolution that said the Tariffs of 1828 and 1832 were null and void in South Carolina, and if the feds tried to enforce it, they'd leave the Union. So there.
Jackson told South Carolina to grow up; they signed on to this Union and weren't gonna leave under his watch. He issued his Proclamation and told South Carolina that, if push came to shove, he'd, uh, shove hard.
Calhoun cleamed ownership of his 1828 "Exposition." But as an extra little jab to Jackson, he quit his position as VP. You think it was bad when Zayn Malik left One Direction? Well, Calhoun may not have been as good looking as Zayn, but the national freak-out was much bigger.
Jackson wanted to show South Carolina that he could talk the talk and walk the walk. This bill allowed the president to use any means necessary in getting South Carolina (and any other state, for that matter) to enforce any tariff act. This included using the military. It's an odd way to convince a group of people that you're not acting like a tyrant…
This tariff and the Force Bill were passed at the same time as a way to tell South Carolina, "this is your last chance before we beat you to a pulp." It was created with the help of Henry Clay, who had a knack for being the country's #1 crisis manager and compromiser. South Carolina decided that it wasn't a perfect solution, but since it lowered the taxes again, it was okay for now.
Everyone in the U.S. let out a collective sigh of relief on the day the Nullification Crisis was averted. Calhoun and the rest of the Nullification Committee got together and decided to repeal their nullification of the tariff. That was a close call, but stay tuned.
You didn't think South Carolina was going to leave it at that, did you? No way. As a last little, "in your face," the nullifiers did what they did best: nullify. They symbolically nullified the Force Bill as a way to let Jackson know that South Carolina still felt he had overstepped his bounds.
Richard Lawrence, an unemployed housepainter, tried to shoot Jackson with two different guns, but both misfired. Jackson pummeled him with his cane. The man was determined to be mentally unstable, but Jackson was convinced that his political enemies were behind it all. In the 1930s, a researcher from the Smithsonian attempted firing Lawrence's pistols, and they both worked. The researcher set the odds of both guns misfiring in 1835 as one in 125,000.
Martin Van Buren was sworn in as the 8th President. It was the first time a president and president-elect rode together to an inauguration.
Old Hickory was finally laid to rest after a lifetime of drama and turmoil. But the crisis that he participated in was far from over. The rift that had been created between the North and the South/the states and the federal government was going to explode less than two decades later.
The idea behind Nullification was going to live on as well. The Fugitive Slave Act forced all runaway slaves to be returned to their masters, even if they made it to the North. Using the Nullification Crisis as the perfect example for the ways that the states could really get under the skin of the federal government, those states that opposed this Act nullified it, saying that it was unconstitutional.
War during Nullification Crisis may have been averted, but all was not quiet on the Eastern front. A civil war almost broke out under Jackson's presidency, but the animosities ran too deep to end there. Questions of federal power, North vs. South, the slaveholder economy, and so on, would erupt once again, this time with devastating consequences.