God & Country Home Search Page


Picture of John C. Calhoun


7th Vice President (1825-1829)

Biographical Data
Religious Views
References, Links, & Further Reading

Education: Yale

Occupation: lawyer, planter

Political Affiliation: Democrat

Religious Affiliation: Unitarian?

Summary of Religious Views:

Calhoun was raised in a strongly Presbyterian household. Always deeply interested in religion, he was quite learned in the subject. Although he never joined a church, and refused to profess himself a Christian, he frequently attended church, particularly the Episcopal church to which his wife belonged. He contributed money to the construction (& is listed as a founding member) of the First Unitarian Church of Washington (which later became All Souls Church), and, for a time, at least, seemed to favor that group. According to one biographer, in matters of religion, "Even his friends had no idea where he stood." (Margaret L. Coit, John C. Calhoun: American Portrait, p. 508)
When Calhoun was on his deathbed, he turned away the Senate chaplain, who had come intending to minister to him.

Views on Religion & Politics:


"To the Infinite Being, the Creator of all, belongs exclusively the care and superintendence of the whole. He, in his infinite wisdom and goodness, has allotted to every class of animated beings its condition and appropriate functions; and has endowed each with feelings, instincts, capacities, and faculties, best adapted to its allotted condition. To man, he has assigned the social and political state, as best adapted to develop the great capacities and faculties, intellectual and moral, with which he has endowed him; and has, accordingly, constituted him so as not only to impel him into the social state, but to make government necessary for his preservation and well-being." -- Disquisition on Government

"I won't be told what to think!" -- said in turning away Rev. C. M. Butler, Senate chaplain, who had come to minister to Calhoun during his final illness.

References, Links, & Further Reading: Books, Articles, Links


Works by John C. Calhoun

ed. by Robert Meriwether, W. Edwin Hemphill, and Clyde N. Wilson, The Papers of John C. Calhoun, 28 vols., Univ. of South Carolina Press, 1959-2003


Irving H. Bartlett, John C. Calhoun: A Biography, W.W. Norton Co., 1993
Gerald M. Capers, John C. Calhoun, Opportunist: A Reappraisal, Univ. of Florida Press, 1960
H. Lee. Cheek, Jr., Calhoun And Popular Rule: The Political Theory Of The Disquisition And Discourse, Univ. of Missouri Press, 2004
Margaret L. Coit, John C. Calhoun: American Portrait, Berg, 1977
E. M. Lander, Reluctant Imperialists: Calhoun, the South Carolinians, and the Mexican War, Louisiana State Univ. Press, 1980
Theodore R. Marmor, The Career of John C. Calhoun: Politician, Social Critic, Political Philosopher (Harvard Dissertations in American History and Political Science), Garland, 1988
John Niven, John C. Calhoun and the Price of Union: A Biography (Southern Biography), Louisiana State Univ. Press, 1988
Charles M. Wiltse, John C. Calhoun, 3 vols., Bobbs-Merrill, 1944-1951


William S. Belko, "John C. Calhoun and the Creation of the Bureau of Indian Affairs: An Essay on Political Rivalry, Ideology, and Policymaking in the Early Republic," South Carolina Historical Magazine Vol. 105, No. 3, 2004, pp. 170-197
Paul F. Boller, Jr., "Calhoun on Liberty," South Atlantic Quarterly, 66, Summer 1967, pp. 395-408
Lacy K. Ford, Jr., "Inventing the Concurrent Majority: Madison, Calhoun, and the Problem of Majoritarianism in American Thought," Journal of Southern History, 60, February 1994, pp. 19-58
Lacy K. Ford, Jr., "Republican Ideology in a Slave Society: The Political Economy of John C. Calhoun," Journal of Southern History, 54, August 1988, pp. 405-424
William W. Freehling, "Spoilsmen and Interests in the Thought and Career of John C. Calhoun," Journal of American History, 52, July 1965, pp. 25-42
J. William Harris, "Last of the Classical Republicans: An Interpretation of John C. Calhoun," Civil War History, 30, September 1984, pp. 255-267
Ralph Lerner, "Calhoun's New Science of Politics," American Political Science Review, 57, December 1963, pp. 918-932


Works by John C. Calhoun

Document Library (TeachingAmericanHistory.org)
The Disquisition on Government (Capitol Project -- University of Virginia)
Disquisition on Government (Constitution Society)
Disquisition on Government (Google Books)
Speeches of John C. Calhoun (Google Books)
The Clay Compromise Measures -- speech, 4 March 1850 (National Center for Public Policy Research)
Speech On The Importance Of Domestic Slavery (Founders Library -- Founding.com)
Slavery a Positive Good (WikiSource)

Biographical Sites

CALHOUN, John Caldwell, 1782-1850 (Biographical Directory of the US Congress)
John C. Calhoun (1825-1829) (Vice Presidents of the United States -- U.S. Senate)
A Biography of John Caldwell Calhoun (1782-1850) (Hypertext on American History)
John C. Calhoun: The U.S. Capitol's "Cast Iron Man" (Capitol Project -- University of Virginia)

God & Country Home Search Page