• Nullification Crisis And Scandalous Petticoat Affair Dominate 1832 Conversation Between Brothers

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    3 pp, 7 ¾ x 12 ¾, ALS, Wilcox County, Alabama, July 4th, 1832, Charles Connor writes to his brother William of Fairfield Corner, Maine, in part about the nullification crisis, which threatened the federal government’s sovereignty by allowing South Carolina to reject federal tariffs.  He writes that the country “are run mad with nullification.” He hopes the crisis will end “in the election of Henry Clay to Presidency.” Connor also references the scandal caused by Peggy Eaton, wife of Jackson’s Secretary of War, who was ignored by other wives of cabinet members as she was thought to have loose morals. This ultimately forced her husband to resign and enabled Jackson to replace his entire cabinet, which was intended to help his troubled presidency.

    Jackson argued before Congress that state nullification of federal laws was misguided, unconstitutional and treasonous to the country. The nullification movement was led by John C. Calhoun, Jackson's vice president. Congress passed the Force Act that authorized the use of military force against any state that resisted tariff acts. In 1833, Henry Clay helped broker a compromise bill with Calhoun that slowly lowered tariffs over the next decade.  The Compromise Tariff of 1833 was eventually accepted by South Carolina and ended the nullification crisis.

    Conner writes to his brother in small part, “...I must remind you of the fable of two friends setting out upon a journey and promising to assist each other...if they should be assaulted on the way. I stated to you the nature of the assault in my last to you and a late law of Congress forces me [to] make a second request to you and I will return the favor with usury within two years if life and health should be spared for the land that I bargained for has become more valuable since I purchased for the county seat is moved to 3 miles of me and a saw mill and grist within one mile...I want you to write me on receipt of this for the first day of January is the last day of indulgence with me...If I can’t raise the money, I must pull up stakes and be off...If you can assist me with two hundred dollars...If not with what you can and tell father, a blessing from him would be very acceptable...

    “As to the politics of this country, they are run mad with nullification and don’t know where it will end but I am in hopes that it will end in the election of Henry Clay to Presidency but I have now hope that this State will do it for a majority. [I] don’t know what they want, whether it is nullification or Jacksonism or Major Eaton’s wife and [a] great many of these warm politicians can’t assign any reasons why things should be so...But because they are so as to my own part such reasoning it...appears they are determined to sustain the old general [Andrew Jackson’s rejection of nullification] right or wrong...”

    Folds, light foxing.  Insignificant seal tear. Spelling corrected and punctuation added in transcription for clarity.  Integral address leaf with 25 cents manuscript postage.  A fine example of discussion about the Nullification Crisis and Peggy Eaton’s scandal, also known as the Petticoat Affair.

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