Citing political differences with President Andrew Jackson and a desire to fill a vacant Senate seat in South Carolina, John C. Calhoun becomes the first vice president in U.S. history to resign the office.
Born near Abbeville, South Carolina, in 1782, Calhoun was an advocate of states’ rights and a defender of the agrarian South against the industrial North. Calhoun served as secretary of war under President James Monroe and in 1824 ran for the presidency. However, bitter partisan attacks from other contenders forced him out of the race, and he had to settle for the vice presidency under President John Quincy Adams. In 1828, he was again elected vice president while Andrew Jackson won the presidency. Calhoun soon found himself politically isolated from national affairs under President Jackson. On December 12, 1832, Calhoun was elected to fill a South Carolina Senate seat left vacant after the resignation of Senator Robert Hayne. Sixteen days later, he resigned the vice presidency.
For the rest of his political life, Calhoun defended the slave-plantation system against the growing anti-slavery stance of the free states. In the early 1840s, while secretary of state under President John Tyler, he secured the admission of Texas into the Union as a slave state.
Together with Andrew Jackson, Daniel Webster, and Henry Clay, John C. Calhoun dominated American political life in the first half of the 19th century.