[In Manuscript, Printed Circular Letter:] Macon, Georgia, 9th August, 1832. Gentlemen, The undersigned have been appointed a Committee of Correspondence to give effect to the subjoined resolutions. They avail themselves…to request your cordial co-operation at this interesting crisis…

A rare Macon, Georgia printed circular, politically charged


This August 1832 Macon, Georgia circular letter calls on the legislature of Georgia to threaten to nullify or resist protective tariff laws of the United States.

Sent out by seven leading Georgia lawyers and legislators, one of the undersigned included the former U. S. Attorney General, under then-still-sitting President Andrew Jackson, John McPherson Berrien.

The letter embodies a serious resolve to uphold States’ Rights against the Federal Government at a time when Southern objections to the protective tariffs enacted by Congress in 1828 and 1832, which appeared only to benefit Northern manufacturing states, were coming to a head. At this same time, the case of Worcester v. Georgia was before the U. S. Supreme Court, a case whose decision in late 1832 would end up vacating a Georgia law concerning the state’s sovereignty over Indian lands within its own bounds.

Tensions were high in Georgia. The issue of two constitutional crises involving Georgia in the same year was, no doubt, responsible for the printed circular’s tone of alarm. The Tariff of 1832 was enacted on July 14, 1832, less than one month before this circular letter was sent out; this example addressed to the “Hon[orable]. Inferior Court [of ] Hancock County, Georgia.”

Reaction to the “crisis,” to use the letter’s word, of this second tariff was swift in Georgia and the letter’s sponsors therein issued the call to elect delegates for a state convention:

The feeling seems now to be universal that relief from oppressions under which we labor, can only be obtained, by unity of action, combining moderation with firmness, and sacrificing on the altar of patriotism all minor and merely local divisions.

Georgia’s neighbor, South Carolina, had its own idea of moderation. In November 1832, it reacted to the crisis by enacting an Ordinance of Nullification. This August 1832 circular makes clear some Georgians were empathetic to South Carolina’s stance, calling for an election of delegates to their own state convention to be held in October 1832. After the text of the circular letter, the Committee of Correspondence prints the “Preamble and Resolutions” to be debated at the convention.

This section begins with a blunt assessment of the situation:

Whereas, the people of Georgia, as well in primary assemblies of citizens in their respective counties, as by their Representatives in the Legislature thereof, have repeatedly and solemnly declared the several acts laying duties on imports, (in so far as such acts transcend the purposes of revenue, and were designed for the protection of manufactures,) to be unjust, oppressive, and unconstitutional; and have solemnly announced their determination not to submit to such unlawful exactions; and their consequent resolution to resist them, if after a reasonable time they should not be repealed.

Early in 1833 Congress modified the tariff laws and South Carolina repealed its Nullification Ordinance, but sectional discord between North and South had already been put into sharp relief.

Although nullification was ultimately rejected as a political doctrine, even in the South, the issue of States’ Rights would remain ascendant.


Description: [In Manuscript, Printed Circular Letter:] Macon, Georgia, 9th August, 1832. Gentlemen, The undersigned have been appointed a Committee of Correspondence to give effect to the subjoined resolutions. They avail themselves…to request your cordial co-operation at this interesting crisis…

[Likely Macon, Georgia]. 1832. [1] p. 10 x 8 inches. Circular Letter. Bifolium with integral address leaf. Salutation and address in ink manuscript; miscellaneous annotations in pencil and ink on verso of second leaf. Two instances of some separation along old fold lines; minor perforations at some intersections of fold lines affect one text character; very good.

[145341]

Not in Imprints, OCLC, or De Renne online. Rare.


Price: $450.00