John C. Calhoun Was Born
As you get older and look back on the past,
you'll be able to list all kinds of significant experiences and
jobs in your life. John C. Calhoun, born March 18, 1782, near
Abbeville, South Carolina, looked back on a life of many
important political jobs. He was a congressman, senator,
secretary of war, secretary of state and vice president of the
United States. He was also known for having an explosive temper.
It wasn't unusual for him to become enraged when defending what
he believed in.
Calhoun believed in the South's right to
continue slavery. He fought to preserve slavery all his life,
even as an old man at the very end of his career as a senator
from South Carolina. He opposed the Compromise of 1850 because
it limited slavery as the country expanded westward. For a
gathering of Congress, Calhoun wrote a 42-page speech against
the Compromise. At 68 years old, a dying man, ghost-like and
bony, he walked into the meeting still prepared to fight.
Too ill to read the speech himself, he asked another
senator, James Murray Mason of Virginia, to read it. In
Calhoun's usual tone, it accused the North of aggression and
shunned compromise. He proposed that the North and South should
part in peace as two separate nations if they could not settle
their differences. But Congress voted for compromise. Calhoun
died shortly after, in 1850, ending a full and very focused
political life. Have you ever known someone with a temperament
like John Calhoun's? Would ideas that you strongly believe in
make you fight this way?