[The South Carolina "Exposition", drafted secretly by Vice-President John C. Calhoun, was presented to the state's House of Representatives on 19 December 1828 by a special committee charged with formulating a response to the federal protective tariff passed earlier that year. Although not adopted by the House, 4,000 copies of the states' rights manifesto were printed and distributed at state expense. The "Exposition" made no direct impact on national policy (the much-maligned "Tariff of Abominations" operated unimpaired), but the theory of nullification was strongly asserted and given conceptual coherence by Calhoun's efforts.]
. . . [The Federal] Government is one of specific powers, and it can rightfully exercise only the powers expressly granted, and those that may be "necessary and proper" to carry them into effect; all others being reserved expressly to the States, or to the people. It results necessarily, that those who claim to exercise a power under the Constitution, are bound to shew [sic], that it is expressly granted, or that it is necessary and proper, as a means to some of the granted powers. The advocates of the Tariff have offered no such proof. It is true, that the third [sic; eighth] section of the first article of the Constitution of the United States authorizes Congress to lay and collect an impost duty, but it is granted as a tax power, for the sole purpose of revenue; a power in its nature essentially different from that of imposing protective or prohibitory duties. . . . The Constitution grants to Congress the power of imposing a duty on imports for revenue; which power is abused by being converted into an instrument for rearing up the industry of one section of the country on the ruins of another. The violation then consists in using a power, granted for one object, to advance another, and that by the sacrifice of the original object. . . .
The committee feel, on entering upon this branch of the subject, the painful character of the duty they must perform. They would desire never to speak of our country, as far as the action of the General Government is concerned, but as one great whole, having a common interest, which all its parts ought zealously to promote. Previously to the adoption of the Tariff system, such was the unanimous feeling of this State; but in speaking of its operation it will be impossible to avoid the discussion of sectional interest, and the use of sectional language. On its authors however, and not on us, who are compelled to adopt this course in self-defence by the injustice and oppression of their measures--be the censure. So partial are the effects of the system, that its burdens are exclusively on one side and its benefits on the other. It imposes on the agricultural interest of the South, including the South West, and that portion of our commerce and navigation engaged in foreign trade, the burden, not only of sustaining the system itself, but that also of sustaining government. In stating the case thus strongly, it is not the intention of the committee to exaggerate. If exaggeration were not unworthy of the gravity of the subject, the reality is such as to render it unnecessary. . . .
. . . The maxim that the consumers pay, strictly applies to us. We are mere consumers, and destitute of all means of transferring the burden from ourselves to others. We may be assured, that the large amount paid into the Treasury, under the duties on imports, is really derived from the labor of some portion of our citizens. The government has no mines. Some one must bear the burden of its support. This unequal lot is ours. We are the serffs [sic] of the system, out of whose labor is raised, not only the money that is paid into the Treasury, but the funds out of which are drawn the rich reward of the manufacturer and his associates in interest. Their encouragement is our discouragement. The duty on imports which is mainly paid out of our labour gives them the means of selling to us at a higher price, while we cannot, to compensate the loss, dispose of our products at the least advance. It is then not a subject of wonder, when properly understood, that one section of country though blessed by a kind Providence with a genial sun and prolific soil, from which spring the richest products, should languish in poverty and sink into decay; while the rest of the Union though less fortunate in natural advantages is flourishing in prosperity beyond example. . . . .
No government based on the naked principle, that the majority ought to govern, however true the maxim in its proper sense and under proper restrictions, ever preserved its liberty, even for a single generation. The history of all has been the same, injustice, violence and anarchy, succeeded by the government of one, or a few, under which the people seek refuge, from the more oppressive despotism of the majority. Those governments only, which provide checks, which limit and restrain within proper bounds the power of the majority, have had a prolonged existence, and been distinguished for virtue, power and happiness. Constitutional government, and the government of the majority, are utterly incompatible, it being the sole purpose of a constitution to impose limitations and checks upon the majority. An unchecked majority, is a despotism--and government is free, and will be permanent in proportion to the number, complexity and efficiency of the checks, by which it powers are controlled. . . .
That there exists a case which would justify the interposition of this State, and thereby compel the General Government to abandon an unconstitutional power, or to make an appeal to the amending power to confer it by express grant, the committee does not in the least doubt; and they are equally clear in the existence of a necessity to justify its exercise, if the General Government should continue to persist in its improper assumption of powers, belonging to the State; which brings them to the last point which they propose to consider. When would it be proper to exercise this high power? If they were to judge only by the magnitude of the interest and urgency of the case, they would without hesitation recommend the exercise of this power without delay. But they deeply feel the obligation of respect for the other members of the confederacy, and of great moderation and forbearance in the exercise, even of the most unquestionable right, between parties who stand connected by the closest and most sacred political union. With these sentiments, they deem it advisable after presenting the views of the Legislature in this solemn manner, to allow time for further consideration and reflection, in the hope that a returning sense of justice on the part of the majority, when they have come to reflect on the wrongs, which this and other staple States have suffered, and are suffering, may repeal the obnoxious and unconstitutional acts, and thereby prevent the necessity of interposing the sovereign power of this State.
The committee is further induced at this time to take this course, under the hope that the great political revolution which will displace from power on the 4th of March next, those who acquired authority by setting the will of the people at defiance; and which will bring in an eminent citizen, [Andrew Jackson,] distinguished for his services to his country and his justice and patriotism, may be followed up under his influence with a complete restoration of the pure principles of our government.
But in thus recommending delay, the committee wish it to be distinctly understood, that neither doubts of the power of the State, nor apprehension of consequences, constitute the smallest part of their motives. . . .
With these views the committee are solemnly of impression if the system be persevered in, after due forbearance on the part of the State, that it will be her sacred duty to interpose her veto; a duty to herself, to the Union, to present, and to future generations, and to the cause of liberty over the world, to arrest the progress of a power, which, if not arrested, must in its consequences, corrupt the public morals, and destroy the liberty of the country.
To avert these calamities, to restore the Constitution to its original purity, and to allay the differences which have been unhappily produced between various States, and between the States and General Government, we solemnly appeal to the justice and good feeling of those States heretofore opposed to us; and earnestly invoke the council and co-operation of those States, similarly situated with our own. Not doubting their good will and support; and sustained by a deep sense of the righteousness of its cause--the committee trusts that under Divine Providence the exertions of the State will be crowned with success.