Artist: attributed to Bounetheau, Henry Date: ca. 1835
From upstate South Carolina, Calhoun gained a national reputation as Vice President of the United States under two different administrations: John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson. He was also Secretary of War under James Monroe. He believed strongly in states' rights, eventually setting forth the basic doctrines of nullification, a state's right to nullify any federal law they saw as unconstitutional. He was also a strong supporter of slavery, proclaiming it as a "positive good" where other politicians described it as a "necessary evil." Even though he died more than a decade before the start of the Civil War, his ideas inspired the secessionist movement started by South Carolina.