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Mon, 03.18.1782

John C. Calhoun, Segregationist born

John C. Calhoun

*John C. Calhoun was born on this date in 1782.  He was a white-American statesman from the Democratic party.

John Caldwell Calhoun was born in Abbeville District, South Carolina, the fourth child of Patrick Calhoun and Martha Caldwell. Patrick's father, also named Patrick Calhoun, had joined the Scotch-Irish immigration movement from County Donegal to southwestern Pennsylvania. After the death of his grandfather in 1741, the family moved to southwestern Virginia.

Following the defeat of British General Edward Braddock at the Battle of the Monongahela in 1755, the family, fearing Native American attacks, moved to South Carolina in 1756.  Calhoun’s father belonged to the Calhoun clan in the tight-knit Scotch-Irish community on the Southern frontier. He was known as an Indian fighter, ambitious surveyor, farmer, planter, and politician, and a member of the South Carolina Legislature.  

Calhoun is remembered for strongly defending American slavery and for advancing the concept of white minority rights in politics, which he did in the context of protecting the interests of the white South when Northerners outnumbered it. 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. He became a leading proponent of states' rights, limited government, nullification, and opposition to high tariffs; he saw Northern acceptance of these policies as a condition of the South remaining in the Union.

His beliefs and warnings heavily influenced the South's eventual secession from the Union in 1860/1861.  Calhoun, a political theorist from South Carolina who served as the seventh vice president of the United States from 1825 to 1832, died at the Old Brick Capitol boarding house in Washington, D.C., on March 31, 1850. The cause was tuberculosis at the age of 68. The last words attributed to him were, "The South, the poor South!"  

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