Authorities are yanking the legacy of slaveholder John C. Calhoun from public sphere, but his bigotry remains embedded in American society - 2020-06-26
Calhoun, who was born in 1782 and died a decade before the Civil War began, in 1850, was not only a slaveholder and an ardent defender of slavery, but a chief architect of the political system that allowed slavery to persist.
More enduring than the effects of his political career – which included the annexation of Texas to expand the number of slaveholding states – are the repercussions of his political ideology.
As a political theorist, Calhoun is best known for two ideas: "concurrent majority" and "nullification." A concurrent majority is the notion that a minority of the electorate – namely, one with money and property – can veto a political majority.
This idea is related to his belief in nullification theory, which is the idea that a state can void federal laws. Nullification made the idea of South Carolina seceding from the nation – and the creation of the Confederacy – a political possibility and then a reality.