Force Bill Law and Legal Definition

The Force Bill was enacted in 1833 to authorize the U.S. President to use military force to enforce federal tariffs. Force Bill is the first piece of legislation to publicly deny the right of secession to individual states. The approval of right of secession meant that the principle of secession no longer was in unision with the idea of a national union.

The first force bill was passed in response to South Carolina's ordinance of nullification. This empowered President Jackson to use the army and navy to enforce the laws of Congress, specifically against the tariff measures to which South Carolina had objected violently. In the second set of force bills, as they were also called, the radical republicans controlling Congress strengthened their reconstruction program for the South by imposing severe penalties on those Southerners who tried to obstruct it. The force bill provided heavy penalties of fine and imprisonment for anyone preventing qualified citizens from voting. Congressional elections were placed exclusively under federal control, and the President was authorized to use the armed forces.