John C. Calhoun, Mathew B. Brady, c. 1849

Spokesman for the South

A major political figure of nineteenth-century America, Senator John C. Calhoun of South Carolina was a spokesman for slavery and states’ rights. Calhoun — a slave-holder himself — defended the institution as “a positive good” and believed it should be allowed to extend into the western territories to maintain the Union’s balance of power between slave and free states.