SAT Subject US History Practice Question 822: Answer and Explanation

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Question: 822

83. "I consider the tariff as the occasion rather than as the cause of the unhappy state of things. The truth can no longer be disguised that the peculiar domestic institution of the southern states and the consequent direction which her soil and climate have given to her industry has placed them in regard to taxation and appropriation in opposite relation to the majority of the nation."

Which of the following statements are supported in the above quote from John C. Calhoun?

I. The existence of slavery is the result of nature and geography.

II. Sectionalism was based on slavery, not states' rights.

III. The tariff was the most important cause of sectional tensions.

IV. The majority of the nation agreed with the Southern viewpoint on slavery.

A. I and III
B. II and IV
C. I and II
D. II and III
E. III and IV

Correct Answer: C


Calhoun tried to shift the blame for slavery by saying it was the climate and the soil that required it. This was special pleading for protection of the "peculiar institution" of slavery. Slavery was the key issue behind sectionalism. Therefore, I and II are correct (C). Calhoun was clearer than most textbooks on this question: The tariff was not the main issue behind sectional tensions. It was only the "occasion" for sectional controversy, making III a wrong choice. He knew that defending his right to own slaves did not reflect the majority view, making IV an incorrect statement.

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