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Will Nullification Lead to Civil War?

Does nullification naturally lead to civil war? If you listen to the establishment then the answer would be yes.
These people believe that nullification clearly created the climate for “civil war” in 1861.

There is one problem with this narrative. It does not contain a shred of truth.

A new piece at the American Conservative warns that civil war is on the horizon and that nullification might be a catalyst.

It would be better to file this article under hyperbole and hysteria than commentary. Michael Vlahos correctly defines a civil war as a war between two distinct legitimacies, but he fails to understand the origin of political legitimacy and the American political tradition of self-determination.

Neither the American War for Independence nor the War for Southern Independence was a “civil war.” Both were independence movements, meaning neither were waged for the control of a central government. The American colonists were not trying to control the Parliament and Crown, and no one in the South argued that they needed to topple King Lincoln and the Congress.

But what does nullification have to do with this?

Nothing, though Vlahos thinks that if the American political climate does not improve, nullification remains a real possibility for the left and the right except Vlahos thinks that if the right is forced to nullify federal gun laws, they will raise a citizen militia to oppose gun confiscation.

That won’t happen for a variety of reasons, but not the least of which is that nullification has always been a peaceful response to unconstitutional legislation and a move to save not destroy the political center.

Calhoun insisted he was always a Union man and that his efforts were driven by a love for Union rather than a disdain for it.

Vlahos’s article exemplifies the real obstacles facing those who want to “think locally and act locally:” both the Left and the Right think it is a path to violence and oppression.

We see it as an act of peace and self-determination.

I discuss Vlahos and his article in Episode 268 of The Brion McClanahan Show.


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Tenth Amendment Center

The Tenth Amendment Center works to preserve and protect Tenth Amendment freedoms through information and education. The center serves as a forum for the study and exploration of state and individual sovereignty issues, focusing primarily on the decentralization of federal government power. Visit

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