John C. Calhoun Quotes

The highest wisdom of a State is a wise and masterly inactivity …

The ‘wise and masterly inactivity’ phrase was first used by James Mackintosh.

John C. Calhoun, 1782-1850, Vice President of the United States (Democrat, SC) Speech, South Carolina Legislature, 1831

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John C. Calhoun
John C. Calhoun
  • Born: March 18, 1782
  • Died: March 31, 1850
  • Nationality: American
  • Profession: Statesman

John Caldwell Calhoun was an American statesman and political theorist from South Carolina, and the seventh vice president of the United States from 1825 to 1832. He is remembered for strongly defending slavery and for advancing the concept of minority party rights in politics, which he did in the context of protecting the interests of the white South when it was outnumbered by Northerners. He began his political career as a nationalist, modernizer, and proponent of a strong national government and protective tariffs. In the late 1820s, his views changed radically and he became a leading proponent of states' rights, limited government, nullification, and opposition to high tariffs—he saw Northern acceptance of these policies as the only way to keep the South in the Union. His beliefs and warnings heavily influenced the South's secession from the Union in 1860–1861.

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