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The Life and Career of John C. Calhoun

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Under family pressure, Calhoun went in to graduate from Tale College and then studied law. From early childhood, he was taught to read the Bible and was trained in the Calvinistic doctrines. Although he was devoted to history and metaphysics, because of ill health he could not pursuer in these areas. Calhoun went to Yale in 1802 and displayed great originality of thought, devotion to study and a great ambition which won him laurels and honors in class (Evisum, 2000). At that time President Dwight had prophesied that Calhoun would reach the greatest eminence in life and might attain the Presidency.

Calhoun began his legal education in 1804 soon after leaving Newport. He first studied at Charleston and later at Connecticut. He returned to South Carolina in 1806 and served brief apprenticeships at Charleston and Abbeville. He was admitted to the bar in 1807 but in the summer of 1807, he helped organize a town meeting to protest the British attack on the American vessel Chesapeake off the Virginia coast (Hatfield, 1997). His speech won him immediate acclaim and he was elected to the South Caroline legislature where he served two terms.

He then entered the House of Representatives in 1811, in his thirtieth year. Calhoun started courting his cousin Floride Colhoun whom he married in 1811. Although it is customary for the bride to keep her own fortune, all of the bride’ s property was placed in Calhoun’ s hands. This position in marriage gave Calhoun a status among the gentlefolk of the seaboard. They had seven children out of which seven survived to adulthood. His beloved daughter and confidante Anne Maria inherited Fort Hill and after her death, Ann’ s husband willed the Calhoun plantation to the state for a public university (Ulbrich).

As husband, father, neighbor, citizen, and friend, Calhoun was pure, upright, sincere and honest. He was simple and unpretending in his manners; rigid and strict in his morals, and temperate and discreet in his habits (Evisum). He was fascinating in conversation and magnanimous in his public and private relations.    

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