Andrew Jackson portrait

On March 1, 1833, Congress enacted the Force Act, authorizing President Andrew Jackson to use American military forces to enforce the provisions of the Tariff of 1832 after a Convention of the People of South Carolina endorsed a proclamation commonly known as the South Carolina Ordinance of Nullification. [Wikimedia Commons]

Force Act Facts

March 2, 1833

Key facts about the Force Act of 1833.

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  • On January 16, 1833, U.S. President Andrew Jackson requested that Congress grant him an extension of his executive authority to ensure that federal customs officials could continue to enforce U.S. tariff laws in South Carolina without interference from state officials.
  • On January 21, 1833 Pennsylvania Senator William Wilkins introduced “An Act further to provide for the collection of duties on imports,” that would strengthen the president’s hand in dealing with the nation’s Nullification Crisis.
  • The U.S. Senate approved the Force Act on February 20, 1833 by a vote of 32-1.
  • Prior to the roll-call vote on the Force Act, South Carolina Senator John C. Calhoun and thirteen of his followers left the Senate floor in protest and did not vote.
  • The U.S. House of Representatives approved the Force Act on March 1 by a margin of 149-47.
  • President Andrew Jackson signed the Force Act into law on March 2, 1833.
  • The official name of the Force Act is “An Act further to provide for the collection of duties on imports.”
  • Some Southerners referred to the Force Act as the “Bloody Bill” because one of its provisions authorized President Andrew Jackson to employ land, naval, or militia forces for the purpose of protecting customs officials and for enforcing U.S. tariff laws.
  • The Force Act authorized President Andrew Jackson to relocate custom houses to more secure locations.
  • The Force Act required the payment of custom duties in cash.
  • The Force Act affirmed and expanded the supremacy of federal courts in cases involving the collection of import duties.
  • The Force Act authorized the establishment of temporary jails for persons convicted of violating U.S. customs laws.
  • The Force Act authorized President Andrew Jackson to employ land, naval, or militia forces for the purpose of protecting customs officials and for enforcing U.S. tariff laws.
  • The final section of the act underscored the impermanent nature of the bill by specifying that it “shall be in force until the end of the next session of Congress, and no longer.”
  • The enactment of the Force Act influenced the decision of the Convention of the People of South Carolina to repeal the South Carolina Ordinance of Nullification on March 15, 1833.
  • On March 18, 1833, the Convention of the People of South Carolina approved an ordinance nullifying the Force Act by a vote of 132-19.
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Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Force Act Facts
  • Coverage March 2, 1833
  • Author
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date July 27, 2021
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update February 17, 2021
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