Southerners had come generally to regard their section of the country as a distinct social unit. The next step was inevitable. The South began to regard itself as a separate political unit. It is the distinction of Calhoun that he showed himself toward the end sufficiently flexible to become the exponent of this new political impulse. With all his earlier fire he encouraged the Southerners to withdraw from the so-called national parties, Whig and Democratic, to establish instead a single Southern party, and to formulate, by means of popular conventions, a single concerted policy for the entire South.
At that time such a policy was still regarded, from the Southern point of view, as a radical idea. In 1851, a battle was fought at the polls between the two Southern ideas--the old one which upheld separate state independence, and the new one which virtually acknowledged Southern nationality. The issue at stake was the acceptance or the rejection of a compromise which could bring no permanent settlement