By William Lee Miller
A blow-by-blow new version of the conflict royal that raged in Congress within the 1830s, whilst a small band of representatives, led by means of President John Quincy Adams of Massachusetts, hired problematic stratagems to outwit the Southern (and Southern-sympathizing) sponsors of the successive "gag" ideas that had lengthy blocked debate as regards to slavery.
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Extra resources for Arguing about Slavery: The Great Battle in the United States Congress
Whatever the limitations in the application that Jefferson and other founders themselves might have made in their own time and place, they wrote better than they knew. Their universal ideals held the promise of an enlarging application in the nation's continuing life. And they themselves knew that the institution of human slavery in their midst was a radical contradiction to those ideals. Those ideals confronted that institution in the little-known episode to be re-created in the pages that follow.
Several of the other congressmen, especially from Massachusetts and Vermont and Pennsylvania, were waiting with petitions upon their desks similar to the one Fairfield had in his hand. Fairfield was the first to pre sent such a petition not from any uniqueness in the particular petition he brought forward, nor from any particular eagerness on his part, but rather by the accident of geography and of House procedure. On petition days ARGU I N G A B O U T S LAVERY the clerk would call the roll of the states not in alphabetical order but, by the quaint early House practice, in a geographical order, starting in the North with the state of Maine.
Although it had simmered throughout the short history of the new republic, it had come to a boil only once before, in the period I 8 I 9-2I , when Congress had debated "the Missouri Question"-whether t o admit Missouri as a slave state. The wide-ranging debate in that instance, the famous firebell-in-the-night of the history texts, had frightened many with its revelation of the deep fault in the moral and political geology of the new union. Among its most frightening aspects, to South Carolinians and other white residents of the slaveholding states, had been the awareness that the free black Denmark Vesey had been moved to plan his slave revolt in Charleston by reading the arguments in Congress on the Missouri Question.
Arguing about Slavery: The Great Battle in the United States Congress by William Lee Miller