A Nullification History Lesson for Jesse Jackson

Saul Alinsky, the king of community organizers, once wrote in his book Rules for Radicals that one should “pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.”

There’s little in American politics that is more polarizing than race, and there’s few better at this kind of fear-mongering than Jesse Jackson.

In his recent columns, Jesse has aggressively pushed the race-card, hoping to convince the fearful that attempts to block Obamacare funding in Congress are somehow born of the same mentality held by those who wanted to preserve the institution of slavery in the 19th century.

Seriously.  You can’t make this stuff up.


Jesse might be a professional polarizer, but he’s an amateur historian, at best.  That’s really an understatement.  Seriously, the guy’s a joke when it comes to facts.

In pontificating about Obamacare, race, and slavery, Jesse tried to give a history lesson, and failed.  Miserably.

Where he really went off the rails was when he attempted to show his “expertise” on nullification.

Here’s a bit of what he had to say:

What is nullification? It’s one of the last-ditch philosophical stands of the slaveholders, the historically disreputable — and thoroughly discredited — concept that a state could “nullify” a federal law by declaring it null and void. The idea of the Slave Power was that the Southern states would “interpose” themselves between the national government and the slaveholders, and prevent our laws from being enforced.

The concept was most famously expounded by South Carolina Sen. John C. Calhoun almost two centuries ago. It has been struck down repeatedly by the courts and was never accepted outside the Confederacy. Since it was used mainly to protect slavery in the South, it eventually helped lead to a horrible Civil War, and eventually the idea was totally discredited.

In Jesse’s five sentences explaining what “nullification” is, he didn’t get one single sentence fully correct.

Not one.

Jesse Jackson couldn’t be more wrong if he tried.


Jesse must’ve forgotten Alinsky’s 2nd rule, “never go outside the expertise of your people.”  In playing historian on nullification, he went outside of his own expertise and walked right into mine.

So, I have a little history lesson for Jesse – it’s one you can use to refute others who use the same lies.

Let’s take Jesse’s false claims apart with some facts.

FACT:  Nullification was never used to protect slavery

Nullification wasn’t “mainly” used to “protect slavery,” it wasn’t used to protect slavery at all.  This just begs the question.  Since slavery was still allowed on a federal level, what would slave states have needed to nullify?  Nothing.  Not once did such a thing happen.


FACT:  Virtually all Northern States used nullification to resist federal slave laws

History turns Jesse’s version on its head.  It was the Northern States, the anti-slavery abolitionists, that used nullification most prominently prior to the civil war.  Almost every Northern state passed “Personal Liberty Laws” with the effect of nullifying the federal Fugitive Slave Act of 1850.

You can learn more about this Northern nullification here.

FACT:  Leading abolitionists supported nullification

While Jesse would have you believe that nullification was “never accepted outside the Confederacy,” he again couldn’t be more wrong.

Beyond the fact that Northern states resisted slavery with nullification, it was leading abolitionists who expressly supported it as well.

Take, for example, John Greenleaf Whittier, the ardent abolitionist poet from Massachusetts:

“Since the passage of the Fugitive Slave Law by Congress, I find myself in a position with respect to it, which I fear my fellow citizens generally are not prepared to justify.  So far as that law is concerned, I am a nullifier.

Or, how about William Lloyd Garrison, editor of the abolitionist newspaper, The Liberator, supporting Whittier:

“The nullification advocated by Mr Whittier…is loyalty to goodness.”

It’s pretty hard to claim nullification is racist, like Jesse does, when one of the founders of the American Anti-Slavery Society considered it “goodness” against federal slavery laws.

FACT:  The “Slave Power” hated nullification.

Confederate President Jefferson Davis was no fan of nullification and attacked it in his farewell address to the Senate.   When South Carolina seceded, they forcefully complained about Northern nullification as well:

The States of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa, have enacted laws which either nullify the [Fugitive Slave Acts] or render useless any attempt to execute them

Mississippi, Georgia, and Texas denounced nullification when they seceded too.


With these facts, it’s easy to see how Jesse Jackson is either ignorant, or just lying.  If it’s the latter, I’m pretty sure it’s to hide a fact that’s dangerous to him. What might that be?

By claiming that nullification is racist, Jesse Jackson sides with the slavers.

About the author

Michael Boldin [send him email] is the founder of the Tenth Amendment Center. He was raised in Milwaukee, WI, and currently resides in Los Angeles, CA. Follow him on twitter – @michaelboldin, on LinkedIn, and on Facebook.


How much influence does Jesse Jackson have these days? It’s not like he hasn’t done anything to hurt his credibility.

Very true. But more important than Jesse’s personal credibility are the lies he spews – which are exactly the same ones which come from many of the major think tanks, media, and talking heads.


Jesse is reintroducing the concept of black upward mobility through personal enrichment by owning other blacks. I guess he figures if it worked before…

John Brinar

When you attempt to quote Jessie Jackson and intelligence in the same sentence; that is an oxymoron…. or in Jessie’s case just a moron….

Bob Marshall

http://www.wallbuilders.com/black history where you will find in their own words both democrats and republicans regarding major issues about slavery and much more that each party was founded on and had to say.


About arnash

“When you find yourself on the side of the majority, it’s time to pause and reflect.” - Mark Twain - Politicians and diapers - change 'em often, for the same reason. "Government is like a baby. An alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other." Ronald Reagan "Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views." William F. Buckley, Jr. “The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.” - Bertrand Russell The people are the masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow the men who pervert it. Abraham Lincoln “Good people sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.” - George Orwell “Satan will use a lake of truth to hide a pint of poison”.
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