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The Tariff of Abomination

The economic line between the Northern states and Southern states is well drawn. As an industrial economy, the North fears cheap imports from Britain killing their emerging businesses. The agrarian economy of the South wants to sell raw materials to Britain in exchange for hard currency that seems to find its way North no matter what they do. President John Quincy Adams is from Massachusetts, so he wants a protective tariff to force citizens to "Buy American." (They don't say it that way, but that is what they are thinking.) The South hates any tariff with a hot, hot hate. Tariffs always add a significant burden to the Southern economy by increasing the price of manufactured goods. Then the Southern economy must wave bye-bye to their hard currency as it heads North into the pockets of the manufacturers. To cobble together the votes needed for passage, the tariff soon becomes an obvious political payoff to various constituencies. The Southern representatives call it the Tariff of Abomination. It passes and America's economy goes south. By 1832, it will reach a crises point. South Carolina will declare the Tariff of Abomination unconstitutional and nullify the law. At this point it is an open question whether a state has the authority to nullify a Federal law under this circumstance. When the question comes up, Andrew Jackson will be President. Jackson is a law-and-order guy, so the fur is going to fly. [1] [2] [3]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Slavery is part of the economic issue. British banks were holding a lot of I.O.U.s from Southern plantations owners who seemed incapable of paying off their creditors. A good example was Thomas Jefferson who died deeply in debt. While he could have benefited from some good financial advice, the laws of Virginia prevented him from selling off his slaves while he was still in debt. In a modern context, if you owned a factory and declared bankruptcy, the court would not look kindly upon an owner who had sold all the equipment to his brother-in-law for 10 cents on the dollar. That would look like fraud to most judges. Most plantation owners were not going to sell their younger slaves until the bank notes were paid off. Younger slaves produced income. The law restricted slave owners from freeing older slaves who might become a burden on community services. The practice of breaking up slave families did not help the situation since an elderly couple might expect their children to help them. That was why Jefferson was careful not to break up slave families if he could help it, and why he ended up well-loved by his slaves, but deeply in debt at the end. [4]

The Beginning of the Liberal Wars

Although the Napoleonic wars of conquest are over, rebellion has broken out in Portugal. After the death of King John the 6th, the succession has come into dispute because King John's elder son, Pedro, is already ruling in Brazil. John's younger son, Miguel, points out that Brazil is now independent so Miguel should take the throne. Neither Portugal nor Brazil want reunification, so Pedro abdicates the throne of Portugal in favor of his 7-year-old daughter, Maria, rather than his brother. Maria needs a regent and regency politics are always tricky, so Pedro attempts to appease the various factions by emending Portugal's constitution to join the opposing factions and then names his sister as regent. That doesn't work out. The conservative aristocracy still want Miguel as ruler and want to rid themselves of the Napoleonic legal liberties imposed upon them. Miguel agrees, takes the throne and starts putting things right. ("Right" is defined as back to the good old days with the good old boys in charge.) Those who prefer the Napoleonic liberties are called Liberals and thus the Liberal Wars begin. Mass arrests. Blood and sorrow. The Liberals are going to win, but its going to take a while. [5]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Keep in mind that the word "Liberal" is used here in the old sense of the word... "One who defaults to LIBERTY!" Napoleon had pushed hard to break the back of the aristocracy, but after Napoleon's defeat, there was some backlash. The aristocracy wanted it's playground back, but the Napoleonic Code of Laws made a lot of sense... especially to recently freed serfs. The laws were reasonably easy to understand which made it difficult for the aristocracy to confuse things. Certainly people in power don't want the serfs to understand the law because if they understood the law, then the serfs would start asking embarrassing questions, like... "Why are you doing this to me when it says right here in the law that you CAN'T do this to me?" The Napoleonic Code also limited the judicial power so that judges couldn't simply legislate from the bench. Changes in the law had to come through the legislature. I know what your are thinking. When a Congressman complains that he can't READ the bill because he needs an accountant and two lawyers just to UNDERSTAND the bill then perhaps there SHOULD NOT BE A BILL in the first place. If we had followed that rule, there would be no Obamacare, nor, for that matter, a Federal Reserve. [6] [7]

The Red Barn Murder

Just some friendly advice to all young lovers: if it doesn't work out, please don't murder each other, but if you must murder, don't bury the body in a big red barn where her stepmother will find the body. Supposedly, Bill and Maria are to elope that evening. Certainly Maria thinks so. Bill doesn't show, giving the excuse that his brother has taken ill. He shows up at Maria's house the next day and tells her that the sheriff has a warrant for her arrest. Bill says he will carry her things to the red barn about a half mile away and meet her there. Then they will sneak out of town together. Maria is never seen alive again. Her stepmother gets plenty of newsy letters from her new son-in-law, Bill. What a treat! But she wonders why Maria is not writing to her directly. After a prophetic dream, Maria's stepmother convinces her husband to take her to the red barn. They find Maria's body in one of the grain bins, tied in a sack with Bill's handkerchief still wrapped around her neck. It is easy enough to find Bill. He is now married to Mary and running a boarding house for ladies. Bill says that Maria's death was an accident. After the trial of the century, Bill swings. 20,000 people show up to share in the experience and the town will become a tourist attraction for years to come. [8]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Obviously, Bill had a less than stellar character. He was called "Foxey" in school mostly because he looked sly. Later, he passed bad checks, stole his father's pigs and generally acted like the criminal that he was.... but not a murderer. Not violent. Thus rumors started that perhaps Bill wasn't the murderer after all. Maria's stepmother was very young, only a year older than Maria herself. Perhaps there was a torrid love triangle! And what of the couple's love child? Well... you can see why the whole affair stirred up such interest. And the Red Barn Murder continues to stir up interest into the modern day with books and TV episodes... and this podcast.

In Other News

  • Jules Verne is born in France. He will write classic adventures such as, Journey to the Center of the Earth, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and Around the World in Eighty Days. He will inspire such authors as Michael Crichton and Ray Bradbury. [9]
  • The founder of the Red Cross is born. Henry Dunant will be the first recipient of the Nobel Peace prize for organizing the Red Cross. In the modern day it seems less organized for helping than for processing donations. [10]
  • The DC electric motor is invented. It is more complex than the electric motor that Faraday invented. The original model is in a museum and it still works! [11]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1828, Wikipedia.

See Also


  1. Tariff of Abominations - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 15 July 2016. “The major goal of the tariff was to protect industries in the northern United States which were being driven out of business by low-priced imported goods by taxing them. The South, however, was harmed directly by having to pay higher prices on goods the region did not produce, and indirectly because reducing the exportation of British goods to the U.S. made it difficult for the British to pay for the cotton they imported from the South.[1] The reaction in the South, particularly in South Carolina, would lead to the Nullification Crisis that began in late 1832. The tariff marked the high point of U.S. tariffs. It was approached, but was not exceeded.”
  2. Nullification Crisis - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 15 July 2016. “The nation suffered an economic downturn throughout the 1820s, and South Carolina was particularly affected. Many South Carolina politicians blamed the change in fortunes on the national tariff policy that developed after the War of 1812 to promote American manufacturing over its European competition.[1] The controversial and highly protective Tariff of 1828 (known to its detractors as the 'Tariff of Abominations') was enacted into law during the presidency of John Quincy Adams. The tariff was opposed in the South and parts of New England. By 1828, South Carolina state politics increasingly organized around the tariff issue. Its opponents expected that the election of Jackson as President would result in the tariff being significantly reduced.[2] When the Jackson administration failed to take any actions to address their concerns, the most radical faction in the state began to advocate that the state itself declare the tariff null and void within South Carolina.”
  3. Traub, James. John Quincy Adams: Militant Spirit. Basic Books. ISBN 9780465098798. 
  4. Alex Shrugged notes: My comments come from my reading of Jefferson's situation and from listening to David Barton's radio comments on why Jefferson could not free his slaves.
  5. Liberal Wars - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 15 July 2016. “This alleged usurpation did not go unchallenged by the Liberals. On May 18, the garrison in Porto, the center of Portuguese progressives, declared its loyalty to Pedro, to Maria da Glória, and the Constitutional Charter. The rebellion against the absolutists spread to other cities. Miguel suppressed these rebellions, and many thousands of Liberals were either arrested or fled to Spain and Britain. There followed five years of repression.”
  6. Napoleonic Code - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 15 July 2016. “The development of the Napoleonic Code was a fundamental change in the nature of the civil law system, making laws clearer and more accessible. It also superseded the former conflict between royal legislative power and, particularly in the final years before the Revolution, protests by judges representing views and privileges of the social classes to which they belonged. Such conflict led the Revolutionaries to take a negative view of judges making law.”
  7. Pelosi says just pass the bill, read it later - Fox News. YouTube (2016). Retrieved on 15 July 2016.
  8. Red Barn Murder - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 15 July 2016. “Pieces of the rope which was used to hang Corder sold for a guinea each. Part of Corder's scalp with an ear still attached was displayed in a shop in Oxford Street. A lock of Maria's hair sold for two guineas. Polstead became a tourist venue with visitors travelling from as far afield as Ireland;[33] Curtis estimated that 200,000 people visited Polstead in 1828 alone.”
  9. Jules Verne - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 15 July 2016. “Ray Bradbury summed up Verne's influence on literature and science the world over by saying: 'We are all, in one way or another, the children of Jules Verne.'”
  10. List of Nobel Peace Prize laureates - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 15 July 2016. “For his role in founding the International Committee of the Red Cross”
  11. Ányos Jedlik - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 15 July 2016. “In 1827, Jedlik started experimenting with electromagnetic rotating devices which he called lightning-magnetic self-rotors, and in 1828 he demonstrated the first device which contained the three main components of practical direct current motors: the stator, rotor, and commutator.”

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