A Disquisition on Government


By John C. Calhoun

Circa 1850

70 pages


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   John C. Calhoun was a statesman born in the Abbeville district of South Carolina on March 18, 1782 and he died in Washington, DC, on March 31, 1850. His father, Patrick Calhoun, was a Scot of the highland clan of Colquhoun. His family made the journey from Scotland into the province of Ulster, North Ireland, where Patrick Calhoun was born. About the year 1733 he and other members of his family crossed over to the Colonies. After a sojourn of some years in southwestern Virginia, Patrick Calhoun removed to Abbeville, SC. This was in the year 1756. Soon after his arrival the area was settled by a large group of homesteaders of mostly Scot descent. Patrick became a leader among them. Patrick and Martha Caldwell were blessed by the birth of a son John Caldwell Calhoun. The lad learned to work with his hands in the fields with his father.

   John C. Calhoun’s early schooling took place at the feet of a relative by marriage who was none other than the famous Dr. Moses Waddel, a Presbyterian minister who established a famous academy. At nineteen Calhoun made rapid progress in the study of Latin and mathematics. Within two years he was ready to enter the junior class at Yale College. He graduated with distinction on September 12, 1804. He then began a study of law at a school in Lichfield, CT, and in the year 1807 he began to practice law in Abbeville, SC.

   After two brief session in the state legislature his district elected him to represent them in Washington. He became noted for his speeches in the House of Representatives. In 1812 he became chairman of the foreign relations committee. He became Secretary of War in the Monroe cabinet for two administrations. That department was in chaos and required his sterling abilities. In 1822 he was nominated for President of these United States. In 1824 he was elected Vice-President and reelected to that office in 1828. He, as an agrarian, managed a large plantation at one time. He was a valiant fighter for Southern Rights and opposed the abolitionists. He was a forceful writer and wise Constitutionalist. Among his writings are: The Disquisition on Government and the Discourse on the Constitution of the United States. He was instrumental in effecting the annexation of Texas. His body was laid to rest in Charleston, SC.

About A Disquisition on Government: The very personification of the Scotch-Irish in America, John C. Calhoun became one of America’s most famous statesmen and a forceful advocates of Southern Rights. A South Carolina native and honor graduate of Yale, he represented his State in the U.S. Congress where he became noted for this persuasive and passionate speeches. He also served as Secretary of State in the Monroe administration and two terms as vice-President of the United States. His theories on representative government, most of which are present here as “A Disquisition on Government”, was and remains among the strongest arguments for States” Rights in a republican form of government.

Additional information

Weight .2 lbs
Dimensions 5.25 × .2 × 8.5 in