What are some of the main points of "On the Slavery Question" by John C. Calhou?

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pholland14 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This speech by Calhoun, given shortly before his death in 1850, addresses his concerns and the concerns of other slaveholders throughout the South.  In the speech, Calhoun examines the threats to national unity.  He states that he does not believe that the threats of secession are caused by Northern or Southern radicals because the nation is divided according to political parties--in this case, Democrats and Whigs.  Calhoun rather looks at something that he regards as inevitable--the expansion of Northern power and territory.  He mentions that bringing Oregon and Minnesota into the Union would further dissolve the balance of power between the North and South in the Senate.  He also mentions that as of 1850, the North outnumbers the South by 2.4 million people and Northerners hold more political positions than Southerners.  He also points out that Northern states get more in terms of money for internal improvements than Southern states.  In the speech, Calhoun wants specific protections for Southern states in order to maintain their slavery, which Calhoun in an earlier speech referred to as a "common good."  He also wants the South to have more of a voice in the national government as it had in years' past.  Calhoun's speech, considered by many his finest oration, was meant to parallel the speeches given against British tyranny during the colonial era.  Calhoun saw the Northern power as a quickly rising tyranny that would overpower the Southern states unless action was taken.  

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