John Caldwell Calhoun was an American statesman and political theorist from South Carolina who held many important positions including being the seventh vice president of the United States from 1825 to 1832, while adamantly defending slavery and protecting the interests of the white South. He began his political career as a nationalist, modernizer, and proponent of a strong national government and protective tariffs. In the late 1820s, his views changed radically, and he became a leading proponent of states' rights, limited government, nullification, and opposition to high tariffs. He saw Northern acceptance of those policies as a condition of the South remaining in the Union. His beliefs and warnings heavily influenced the South's secession from the Union in 1860–1861.
Calhoun began his political career with election to the House of Representatives in 1810. As a prominent leader of the war hawk faction, Calhoun strongly supported the War of 1812. He served as Secretary of War under President James Monroe and, in that position, reorganized and modernized the War Department. Calhoun was a candidate for the presidency in the 1824 election.