The Nullification Crisis

The Nullification role-play immerses students in the conflicts that led up to the Civil War: the economic relationship between North and South, the growing abolition movement, and the struggle for power between federal and state governments.

Set in Charleston, South Carolina in 1832, this VOXPOP revolves around the question of nullifying the Tariff of 1828. Students take on the roles of Laborers, Plantation Owners, Abolitionists, Northerners and Merchants. After being introduced to the situation, students work with other members of their group to define their values.

Students then debate and vote on how South Carolina should handle three main issues:


Finance - How can we save South Carolina’s economy?

Law - How do we keep South Carolina safe?

Power - Who controls South Carolina: the federal government, or the state?


At the end of the VOXPOP, an epilogue video lays out what actually happened.


Students: 6 to 50

Running Time: 90 minutes (the role-play can be broken into multiple sessions)

Teacher Guide: Nullification Teacher Walkthrough PDF


Jenny Lim

Mattia Romeo

Greg Trefry

Testing & Evaluation

Camillia Matuk

Talia Hurwich


William W. Freehling, Prelude to Civil War: The Nullification Controversy in South Carolina, Oxford University Press, 1966.


Library of Congress

National Gallery of Art

Special Thanks

Tamara Gordon

Julie Grindstaff

Mordecai Moore