Stati e Costituzione: il federalismo autentico di John C. Calhoun (1782-1850)


This article is a brief exposition of the theory of federalism adopted by John C. Calhoun as a defense of the Southern States between 1828-1838. For Calhoun, the United States were something more than, and different from, a simple league of states, but should never become a centralized democracy ruled by absolute majorities. Government by majority rule at all levels meant abandonment of all constitutional guarantees. The right of a state to judge, as a last resort, constitutional limits imposed on the federal government should be defended at all costs; otherwise the United States would be destroyed, becoming first a full-grown modern State and then a dictatorship of the executive. While Calhoun’s political thought is in perfect harmony with the American founding, it was at odds with subsequent evolution of the federation: Government by judiciary has been the peculiar American answer to the problems posed, and never solved, by the logic of authentic federalism.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i22808949a4n1p291

Keywords: federalism; political theory; John C. Calhoun; US history 1828-1838; US Constitution; nullification; secession

Full Text: PDF


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribuzione - Non commerciale - Non opere derivate 3.0 Italia License.