On sanctuary, Mr. President, speed fueled by Jacksonian fury is vital

“Tell them from me that they can talk and write resolutions and print threats to their heart’s content. But if one drop of blood be shed there in defiance of the laws of the United States, I will hang the first man of them I can get my hands on to the first tree I can find.”¬†— Andrew Jackson, 1832 (1)

“I tell you, Hayne, when Jackson begins to talk about hanging, they can begin to look out for ropes!”¬†—¬†Senator T.H. Benton to Senator Robert Hayne, 1832 (2)

Mr. President, I know that you know, as does every sane American, that the maintenance of sanctuary cities, counties, schools, or states is a direct and lethal threat to the nation’s security, the lives of ordinary citizens and their children, and a drain on the republic’s economy. You have said this repeatedly, and have announced that you and your administration will fix the problem. That is no more than those who voted for you expect.

But you should immediately discard the idea of cutting off federal funds to the sanctuary cities. This tack must be the brainchild of advisers who are closet-Democrats or Republicans who have been in Washington far too long. It is a plan that will lead to nothing but a lengthy delay in resolving what is a quickly fixable problem. Worse, it will give the Democrats and their adoring media pets a “cause” around which to rally. They will use it as a soapbox from which to assert that your administration is starving the sanctuary cities of money for poor adults and their hungry kids, for schools, for transportation, for health clinics, etc., etc. The Democrats also will use their endless cascade of Soros-money to hire sick, addled, fanatic, and addicted people — in other words the party’s rank-and-file — to parade their pathetic, Trump-mandated distress before the media, and have them claim that their maladies are the result of your administration’s halting of federal funding.

Why not spend a few hours, Mr. President, refreshing your knowledge of the the Nullification Crisis of 1832, and, in doing so, take a lesson from Andrew Jackson on how to handle Democrats who defy the supreme law of the land? The match of secession and civil war, after all, was lit in 1832, when South Carolina’s Democratic government announced that it would no longer enforce the provisions of the republic’s tariff system it deemed detrimental to the state’s economic interests. The political grandees in Charleston cited John C. Calhoun’s doctrine of nullification as their legal justification.

President Jackson, of course, saw straight away that although the South Carolinians described their action as nullification, it was actually a long first-step toward the state’s secession from the Union — and, if not checked, likely the start of the Union’s dissolution. Jackson, though a Democrat himself, had no intention of presiding over secession and made it publicly and privately clear that his government was not going to allow one state to initiate an unconstitutional process that might well sink the republic by either splintering the Union into several small nations or a civil war.

Publicly, Jackson’s administration issued a proclamation on 10 December 1832 telling South Carolina — and the nation as a whole — that nullification was illegal and that the national government would not tolerate it. That lengthy document said, in part,

The Constitution of the United States, then, forms a government, not a league, and whether it be formed by compact between the States, or in any other manner, its character is the same. It is a government in which all the people are represented, which operates directly on the people individually, not upon the States; they retained all the power they did not grant. But each State having expressly parted with so many powers as to constitute jointly with the other States a single nation, cannot from that period possess any right to secede, because such secession does not break a league, but destroys the unity of a nation, and any injury to that unity is not only a breach which would result from the contravention of a compact, but it is an offense against the whole Union. To say that any State may at pleasure secede from the Union, is to say that the United States are not a nation because it would be a solecism to contend that any part of a nation might dissolve its connection with the other parts, to their injury or ruin, without committing any offense. Secession, like any other revolutionary act, may be morally justified by the extremity of oppression; but to call it a constitutional right, is confounding the meaning of terms, and can only be done through gross error, or to deceive those who are willing to assert a right, but would pause before they made a revolution, or incur the penalties consequent upon a failure. (3)

Privately, as noted above, Jackson was emphatically clear with a number of southern Democratic congressman and senators that he would not hesitate to use military force to destroy those who: (a) sought to break the Union by nullification-cum-secession, or (b) who attacked Union loyalists living in their midst. As token of his lethal resolution on these points, Jackson sent eight U.S. naval ships and 5,000 muskets to Charleston. He also again warned in private talks he knew would be relayed to the nullifiers, that if fighting became necessary, he would “hang every leader … of that infatuated people, sir, by martial law, irrespective of his name, or political or social position.” (4)

What you are facing today, Mr. President, is quite simply the 21st century and nationwide version of the southern nullifiers and secessionists. Now, few have more disdain — indeed, more hatred — than I for the national government’s unconstitutional usurpation of power since FDR’s lordly ascension to the presidency. But there are a number of things which are vital to the republic’s survival and can only be done by the national government. Among them are foreign policy, the initiation and conduct of war, international and domestic trade policy, and immigration. For Democratic politicians to try to block or prevent the national government’s conduct of these policies is unconstitutional and — as in Andrew Jackson’s time — demands a national-government response that takes whatever form is necessary to break the backs of the nullifiers/secessionists. The Democratic mayors of the sanctuary cities — as well as the lesser, pro-sanctuary rats found in county governments, many churches, schools, and the media — are the progeny of the South Carolina Democrats and, like those men, are out to destroy the Union. They will do so, Mr. President, if you supinely yield to their unconstitutional and anti-democratic actions.

Mr. President, the mayors of the sanctuary cities are the proper first targets for you administration to begin enforcing the law, and it can be done soundly and quickly. Once confirmed, your attorney general should send a letter to each of the mayors that politely but firmly demands that they end their lawlessness and execute their legal responsibility to assist the national government in rounding up illegal aliens. The letter should tell each mayor that one of the attorney general’s lieutenants will arrive in his office in ten days to coordinate alien-apprehension operations with them. If one or all of the mayors send replies in the negative, your DoJ official should arrive with a team of federal law-enforcement officers and ask the mayors if they intend to meet their legal responsibility. If their answer is no, each should be arrested for obstructing the execution of the law. This process then should be repeated with each of the mayor’s nexts-in-command until one is found who will help enforce the supreme law of the land. Each arrest is likely to promote more cooperative feelings further down the command chain.

Mr. President, use the law against the lawless and you will quickly rid the country of those who are here criminally, and you will bring to trial those who revel in their lawlessness, seek to disrupt the Union, and, by all appearances, prefer civil war to the rule of law. You also will show Americans that the Democratic Party never changes, that it is no different than it was in 1861, when it championed secession and civil war after the presidential candidate it favored failed to win the White House.

After President Jackson enforced the law and defeated the nullifiers, he arranged ameliorative actions vis-a-vis the tariff to restore the South Carolinians confidence in the Union. But like all Democrats, then and now, they believed only in destruction and death if they could not get their way. In an 1833 letter, Jackson reflected on his experience with the nullifiers. “I have had a laborious task here,” Old Hickory wrote,

“but nullification is dead, and its actors and courtiers will only be remembered by the people to be execrated for their wicked designs to sever and destroy the only good government on the globe, and that prosperity and happiness we enjoy over every other portion of the world. Haman’s gallows ought to be the fate of all such ambitious men, who would involve the country in civil war, and all the evils in its train, that they might reign and ride on its whirlwinds, and direct the storm.” (5)

Jackson also said, at the close of his presidency, that one of his major regrets was that he had failed to hang John C. Calhoun — the father of nullification and secession — “higher than haman.” (6) Given that our civil war still came at the hands of Calhoun-inspired South Carolinians, Jackson’s regret was certainly valid.

While you cannot today, Mr. President, hang nullifiers like Emanuel, de Blasio, and their equally lawless mayoral associates as they deserve — more’s the pity — you certainly can legitimately restore in their minds, and the minds of all Americans, the confidence that those who knowingly refuse to obey the law — or obstruct its execution — will be handled in accordance with the law they ignored and, if convicted, will be punished to the maximum extent it permits.

And perhaps with a bit of Jackson’s measured but patently biblical fury, Mr. President, you should tell Americans that you recognize that they have, and must always defend, their unquestionable right to rebellion. And then, Mr. President, you might say that the appropriate application of that right only comes into play when the national government — as it did under Obama and would have under Mrs. Clinton — acts to constrict their liberties, impoverish them through taxation, promote minority rule, attack their traditions, faith, flags, and history, involve them in multiple unconstitutional wars, and — most of all — when it undermines the republic’s only safe harbor, the maintenance of a viable Union and the public’s affection for it.


  1. http://elektratig.blogspot.com/2009/03/when-jackson-begins-to-talk-about.html
  2. https://haysvillelibrary.wordpress.com/2009/03/15/andrew-jackson-the-nullification-crisis/
  3. http://avalon.law.yale.edu/19th_century/jack01.asp, 10 December 1832
  4. https://haysvillelibrary.wordpress.com/2009/03/15/andrew-jackson-the-nullification-crisis/
  5. http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/disp_textbook.cfm?smtID=3&psid=371
  6. http://www.civilwarcauses.org/jackson.htm
  7. http://potus-geeks.livejournal.com/109516.html

Author: Michael F. Scheuer

Michael F. Scheuer worked at the CIA as an intelligence officer for 22 years. He was the first chief of its Osama bin Laden unit, and helped create its rendition program, which he ran for 40 months. He is an American blogger, historian, foreign policy critic, and political analyst.