Essay on Calhoun's "Positive Good" Speech

Paper Type:  Argumentative essay
Pages:  3
Wordcount:  559 Words
Date:  2022-05-17

The purpose of John Calhoun's speech was to reach out to his fellow statesmen who were placed at the highest decision making positions, on the compromises they would be exposing themselves to if they allowed members of the unions from the northern states to present petitions on the abolishment of the slave trade. It highlighted the dangers of permissiveness towards according 'encroachers" any avenues for their cases to be filed or heard and acted upon. It called to attention that even though the crusade against slavery appears to be as minute as a mustard seed, it would finally grow to question their beliefs, the system, and the power. It pointed out examples of how it had begun polluting the system and some leaders such as the senator from Massachusetts Mr Webster.

Is your time best spent reading someone else’s essay? Get a 100% original essay FROM A CERTIFIED WRITER!

Calhoun's speech was purposed to put to clear perspective the kind and scope of the anti-slavery movement and to bring to confrontation what he termed to as irresponsible shyness to the pressing issue by his fellow politicians. His role was to discern past the then primary routine politics and inquire on the forces that were working deeper at the choices they had to make and on the consequences it would have on the future to come.

Calhoun argues that instead of enabling a discussion whose consequences they knew, it was more useful to meet the enemy at the grassroots and dismember them from there. It would be effective as it wouldn't have time to grow and be elevated on a pedestal as a known issue that warrants discussion by either the leaders, Congress or the media( Calhoun, 1). The speech argues that the continued development of the debate on slavery is bound to invoke feelings of guilt in senators because of their continued support.

The speech is set to accomplish its purpose. Given the various arguments, such as the loss of positions, in the eventuality of an uprising or abolition, it is well set out as a call to arms to frustrate any plans for the petitions. The fact that Calhoun used an example of the senator from Massachusetts who had formerly taken a firm stand against the abolition of slave trade, but had gradually switched sides was a clear example of the encroachment the discussion was brought about. That case is a clear example of how the debate was digging its paws into the elite in the society.


Calhoun's argument is well framed for the intended audience because they understand what the loss of their stature would mean (Calhoun, 1). Furthermore having served in their positions of leadership, they have observed the trade and have seen both sides of the coin, i.e., how slave trade has seen division in opinions on fellow leaders and statesmen as well as the efficiency of the structure that has been put up in support of their system. Threatening with the prospect of obscurity, the speech suffices as an efficient tool for blocking presentation of the petitions (Calhoun, 1). Again the framing of the speech was splendid as, to begin with, Calhoun's forecast even before the discussion had emerged. There is a chronological sequence of events from resistance to formal procedures encroaching of the elite members and now prophesies doom if the petitions were tabled and discussions continued.

Works Cited

"2". Stolaf.Edu, 2018, Accessed 1 May 2018.

Cite this page

Essay on Calhoun's "Positive Good" Speech. (2022, May 17). Retrieved from

Free essays can be submitted by anyone,

so we do not vouch for their quality

Want a quality guarantee?
Order from one of our vetted writers instead

If you are the original author of this essay and no longer wish to have it published on the ProEssays website, please click below to request its removal:

didn't find image

Liked this essay sample but need an original one?

Hire a professional with VAST experience!

24/7 online support

NO plagiarism