Northern Nullification
The antebellum Northern States effectively nullified the Constitution as they openly refused to return fugitives from labor in the South, while at the same time preaching treasonous “higher law” fiction. The subject mentioned below, George Wilkins Kendall, was a true “embedded reporter” of an earlier time as he accompanied General Winfield Scott from Vera Cruz to Mexico City on “The Long Walk.”
Bernhard Thuersam, Director
Cape Fear Historical Institute
Wilmington, North Carolina

Northern Nullification:
“George Wilkins Kendall….was born in Mount Vernon, New Hampshire in 1809, and began his journalistic career with the Amherst Herald.  He held that position for a short time, and then moved rapidly to the Boston Statesman, the Washington United States Telegraph, the National Intelligencer, and the Mobile Register. In January 1837 he settled in New Orleans where he founded and edited the Picayune and gained a national reputation as a humorist.
Kendall, as did most Yankees who made their homes in the South, became an ardent champion of slavery. He defended the doctrine of States’ rights and could find little, if anything, good to say about abolitionists. He wrote to his friend Henry S. Randall of New York that James Buchanan was the weakest of presidents. Buchanan, said Kendall, “looked timidly on while half a dozen Northern States, your own among that number, have virtually nullified—have openly trampled the Constitution under foot by their action in regard to the Fugitive Slave Law.”
He noted also that the Northerners preached the higher law and the irrepressible conflict doctrines. Kendall was not a secessionist but said that the entire South should “hold council together, decide upon a firm and dignified plan of action, give the North an unmistakable ultimatum and in the meantime prepare for the worst…If you in the North openly nullify by setting aside a plain and palpable provision of the Constitution, any State in the South has an undoubted right to secede.”
When war came in 1861, Kendall declared that the “deceit and double dealing of Abraham Lincoln [were] duplicity and double dealing which would have disgraced the Mexican Santa Anna, be a match for Satan himself, and shame even a Comanche [Indian].”
(The Role of the Yankee in the Old South, Fletcher Green, UGA Press, pp. 72-74)