Our Collection

At the Institute’s core is the Gilder Lehrman Collection, one of the great archives in American history. More than 65,000 items cover five hundred years of American history, from Columbus’s 1493 letter describing the New World to soldiers’ letters from World War II and Vietnam. Explore primary sources, visit exhibitions in person or online, or bring your class on a field trip.

Calhoun, John C. (John Caldwell) (1782-1850) to Wilson Lumpkin

Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC06317 Author/Creator: Calhoun, John C. (John Caldwell) (1782-1850) Place Written: Clemson, South Carolina Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 1 September 1848 Pagination: 1

Summary of Content: Here, Calhoun concurs with Lumpkin's views on nullification, the Union, and the differences between [the] North and the South. "The question between the North & South is ... a mere question of power. The pretext of bettering the condition of the Slave is laid asside. The only alternative left as is, shall we resist, or surrender, & thus in fact change condition with our Slaves." States that the South's condition is hopeless unless they can unite their parties. Feels that both candidates [presidential nominees Zachary Taylor and Lewis Cass] for election are useless. "What madness, to divide among ourselves, when our Union is essential to our safety, to quarrel about two men, from whom, their Northern supp[ort]ers, we have so little to expect!" Foresees defeat in the election and advises what the South's next step should be. " .... If we shall be defeated, as in all pribility we shall, nothing will be left, but for the South to meet in convention, & to take our defence in our own hands." Concludes by stating his views on the Presidential election, "I stand aloof on the independent ground, ready to support the democratick or whig candidate, which ever may succeed, so long as he goes right, & oppose him when he goes wrong." Written from Calhoun's home, Fort Hill, in Clemson, South Carolina. Calhoun's reply is also printed in the Papers of Calhoun, Vol. XXVI, 28-30.

People: Calhoun, John Caldwell, 1782-1850.
Lumpkin, Wilson, 1783-1870.
Calhoun, John Caldwell, 1782-1850.

Historical Era: National Expansion and Reform, 1815-1860

Keywords/Subjects: Election, Government and Civics, Politics, African American History, Slavery, Nullification, Democratic Party, Whigs, Vice President

Sub Era: Age of Jackson