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Constitutionalism in the Approach and Aftermath of the Civil War$
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Paul D. Moreno and Jonathan O'Neill

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780823251940

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823251940.001.0001

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Martin Van Buren as Statesman

Martin Van Buren as Statesman

State Rights and the Rise of the “Free Soil” Party

(p.29) 1 Martin Van Buren as Statesman
Constitutionalism in the Approach and Aftermath of the Civil War

Christian Esh

Fordham University Press

This chapter analyzes the political theory of “State Rights” within antebellum New York politics in three parts: (1) the early history of New York's republican theory of states as sharing concurrent sovereignty with the federal government, (2) Martin Van Buren's defense of the states’ vital role in constitutional deliberation amid the Nullification Crisis, and (3) Van Buren's use of state rights in defense of the Free Soil movement against southern claims of slavery as a national right. Van Buren's career demonstrates the persistence of the old republican language of state rights in the Northern Democratic party, even as the South developed the theory of state sovereignty to promote the expansion of slavery.

Keywords:   Martin Van Buren, State's rights, Nullification, Free Soil, Democratic Party, State sovereignty

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