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Mini Biographies of Scots and Scots Descendants (C)
Calhoun, John Caldwell


(1782-1850) Vice President under John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson and was a product of the famous 'log colleges'. He was brought up in the Abbeville District of SC before going to Yale, graduating in 1804. His father was a farmer and slave-owner and Calhoun was a defender of slave-holding states. After being admitted to the bar, he married into the aristocracy of SC and entered politics where he served for the rest of his life. He served as Secretary of War in 1817 and Secretary of State and signed the treaty which annexed Texas and made protection of slavery the chief reason for its acquisition. Later, Calhoun opposed the Wilmot Proviso and the admission of California with a constitution prohibition slavery. He argued that the nation was a confederation of sovereign states and that if the Federal Government ignored the rights of the minority of the states, this minority could secede through exercise of its sovereign rights, or could nullify Federal laws. His hopes for the presidency were dashed in 1829 by the tremendous popularity of Andrew Jackson. His wife caused the biggest political scandal of the century by causing the social ostracism of innkeeper's daughter Peggy O'Neale who had married a Tennessee senator. He died in 1850 shortly after suggesting that the South should withdraw from the Union.

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