Power is a concept that is at the center of all the analyses in the party-political world. National power is the competence, potential, and capacity of a nation to impose national determination and gain national interests by using its resources and mystical assets (Hafenzia 170). National power is used by the government to defend its national interests, enact and normalize social affairs, reduce external threats, and satisfy public security through correlated organizations. State power is a composite public relation that replicates the varying steadiness of social forces in a determinate conjuncture (Jessop 221). State power makes, upholds, and reinstates the necessities for capital accretion in a given situation in a state. The powers of a state are galvanized through the intervention of fixed political forces. Therefore, this essay will focus on The Kentucky Resolutions” and “South Carolina Exposition and Protest”, their historical contexts, similarities, and differences.

The South Carolina Exposition and Protest is a document that was secretly written by John Calhoun in 1828 while serving as vice president of the United States. Calhoun felt that he could protect South Carolina from unwarranted exercises of federal power through his formula. John Calhoun’s document argued that nullification of laws by states could be made possible though it was judged as unconstitutional. The document was formulated by the South Carolinians as they tried to look for a way to protect them from unfriendly national laws. The tariff of 1828 which was a protective tariff and not a revenue tariff was declared illegal by Calhoun. The constitution gives congress the role to impose duties and taxes but did not specifically state the purpose of the tariff. There was also an issue of balancing majority rule with balancing minority rights. All these challenges occasioned the creation of the South Carolina Exposition and Protest.

The Kentucky Resolutions belong to the Early Republic’s most significant political documents. The document was confined to Thomas Jefferson and James Madison who was part of the campaign against the infamous Alien and Sedition laws passed by Congress in 1798. The Alien act authorized the president to expel all foreigners from the United States as they were termed dangerous to the peace of the nation.  The Sedition act made any offense punishable by fine or imprisonment. The Kentucky Resolutions were formulated to protest against these measures put in place by the federal government. The document also consisted of statements on the nature of the constitution and the federal system. The Resolutions challenged the constitution of federal laws that targeted the political opposition to the current administration. They revolutionized the propositions as they challenged the nature of the federal system and also introduced the idea of nullification and state interposition.

The Kentucky Resolutions and the South Carolina Exposition and Protest are similar in some ways. First, the two documents both deal with issues of admitting new states into the system. Jefferson in his document talks about appreciating foreigners in their state instead of seeing them as a danger to peace and security and Calhoun addresses the issue of equality of rights even to the minors. The documents are both written by people who were supporters of the state. They both had the same view that the federal government should have less power than the states to ensure justice.

The Kentucky Resolutions and South Carolina and Protest have some differences based on the different political philosophies between Calhoun and Jackson. Jackson’s ideology was fluid and depended on the mood of the people and his mood. In his view, the presidency is an instrument of the people against the combined interests of the rich. The holder of authority was labeled as a leader of the majority and protector of the people’s liberty (Meacham 120).  Calhoun in South Carolina Exposition and Protest campaigned for unionism by saying that America should engage in a war with Great Britain in 1812. The two documents also differ in such that Kentucky Resolutions was formulated to protest against the Alien and Sedition acts of the federal system while the South Carolina Exposition and Protest resulted from the tariffs of 1828.

In conclusion, it is agreeable that a state should have the ability to nullify a national law. Even Madison’s report of 1800 it acknowledges that states can declare a few laws unconstitutional. The nullification process only happens with the decision of the court.  Nullification of the national law may only happen in particular circumstances or if matters arise that need to be addressed. A circumstance that can lead to the nullification of the national law is whereby a section of the law contains rules that might oppress the minority, for example, a tax increase yet the majority are low-income earners. Another circumstance that may lead to the nullification of the national law is if it fails to protect the national interests of a country and does not aid in achieving its goals. The national law can also be nullified if it fails to curb external attacks and threats effectively.  Reconsiderations are made to prove the efficiency of the national law.




Hafenzia, Mohammad Reza, et al, “analysis of Geographical basics of national power of Islamic Republic of Iran” Journal of geographical science 2003.

Jessop, B 1982: The Capitalist State: Marxist Theories and Methods.

Meacham, Jon. American Lion. New York, NY: Random House Publishing Group. 2008.

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