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Robert Hayne

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Robert Hayne

Robert Young Hayne
United States Senator
from South Carolina
In office
Preceded by William Smith
Succeeded by John C. Calhoun
Personal details
Born (1791-11-10)November 10, 1791
St. Pauls Parish, South Carolina
Died September 24, 1839(1839-09-24) (aged 47)
Asheville, North Carolina
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Frances Henrietta Pinckney
Rebecca Mott Alston
Profession Attorney, Soldier

Robert Young Hayne (November 10, 1791 – September 24, 1839) was an American political leader who served in the United States Senate, as Governor of South Carolina and as Mayor of Charleston. He was notable as a proponent of the states' rights doctrine, in collaboration with John C. Calhoun.

Early life and career

Born in St. Pauls Parish, Colleton District, South Carolina, Hayne studied law in the office of Langdon Cheves in Charleston, South Carolina, was admitted to the bar in 1812, and practiced in Carleston.

During the War of 1812 against Great Britain, he was a Captain in the Third South Carolina Regiment, and he later served as the Quartermaster General of the state militia.

A Democrat, he was a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives from 1814 to 1818, serving as Speaker of the House in 1818.

Hayne was Attorney General of South Carolina from 1818 to 1822.

In 1822 was elected to the United States Senate. He was reelected in 1828 and served from March 4, 1823, to December 13, 1832. From 1825 to 1832 he was Chairman of the Senate Committee on Naval Affairs.

In 1832 he served as Chairman of South Carolina's nullification convention, which continued to advocate Hayne's view that states could "nullify" federal laws with which they did not agree. The convention led to the Ordinance of Nullification, and a temporary compromise between the federal government and South Carolina in 1833.

Hayne resigned from the Senate to accept election as Governor of South Carolina, where he served until 1834.

From 1836 to 1837 he served as Mayor of Charleston.

Political views

Hayne was considered an ardent free-trader and an uncompromising advocate of states' rights. He opposed the protectionist tariff bills of 1824, 1828, and 1832, and consistently upheld the doctrine that slavery was a domestic institution and should be dealt with only by the individual states. He opposed the federal government's plan to send delegates to the Panama Congress, Simón Bolívar's plan to develop a united North and South American policy towards Spain, including the end of slavery in Spain's former colonies. Objecting to any federal effort to curtail slavery, Hayne said "The moment the federal government shall make the unhallowed attempt to interfere with the domestic concerns of the states; those states will consider themselves driven from the Union." His remarks are considered an early description of the idea of Secession, which culminated with the American Civil War.

In 1828, in response to the changing economic landscape in Massachusetts (there was a shift from farming towards mass production in factories), Daniel Webster backed a high-tariff bill that would enhance the profitability of manufacturing interests in his home state. This angered Southern leaders who would have to pay higher prices for manufactured goods, and brought Webster into dispute with Hayne. Their disagreement over the powers of the federal government later evolved into a series of back-and-forth Senate speeches that became known as the Webster-Hayne debate.

The debate arose over the "Foot resolution," introduced on December 29, 1829[1] by Senator Samuel A. Foot of Connecticut. Foot's proposal called for a federal government study into restricting the sale of public lands to those lands already available for sale, which would prevent states from conducting further land sales. Whether the federal government had the authority to take this action called into question the relationship between the powers of the federal government and the governments of the individual states.

Hayne contended that the United States Constitution was only a compact between the national government and the states, and that any state could nullify any federal law which it considered to be in contradiction.

Webster argued for the supremacy of the federal government and the Constitution, and against nullification and secession, concluding his Second Reply to Hayne with the memorable phrase "Liberty and union, now and forever, one and inseparable."

Later career

Hayne was President of the Louisville, Cincinnati and Charleston Railroad from 1836 until his death.


Hayne's first wife was Frances Henrietta Pinckney. After her death, in 1820 he married Rebecca Brewton Alston. Her father, William Alston, gave her a lot on lower King Street where Hayne built a house (today's 4 Ladson Street) that remained in the family until 1863.[2]


Robert Young Hayne died at Asheville, North Carolina on September 24, 1839. He was buried at St. Michael’s Churchyard in Charleston.

Hayne's nephew, Paul Hamilton Hayne, was a poet who in 1878 published a biography of Hayne.


Further reading

  • Sheidley, Harlow W. "The Webster-Hayne Debate: Recasting New England's Sectionalism" New England Quarterly 1994 67(1): 5-29. ISSN 0028-4866 Fulltext in Jstor
  • Theodore D. Jervey, Robert V. Hayne and his Times (New York, 1909).
  • Paul H. Hayne, Lives of Robert Y. Hayne and Hugh Swinton Legaré (Charleston, 1878)
  • McDuffie, Eulogy upon the Life and Character of the Late Robert Y. Hayne (Charleston, 1840)
  • Lindsay Swift (editor) The Great Debate Between Robert Y. Hayne, of South Carolina, and Daniel Webster, of Massachusetts (Boston, 1898), in the "Riverside Literature Series"
  • Template:1911

External links

Biography portal

Template:NSRW Poster

  • SCIway Biography of Robert Young Hayne
  • NGA Biography of Robert Young Hayne
  • Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
Preceded by
William Smith
United States Senator (Class 2) from South Carolina
Served alongside: John Gaillard, William Harper, William Smith, Stephen Decatur Miller
Succeeded by
John C. Calhoun
Political offices
Preceded by
James Hamilton, Jr.
Governor of South Carolina
Succeeded by
George McDuffie


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