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 through President John Quincy Adams of Massachusetts, hired complicated stratagems to outwit the Southern (and Southern-sympathizing) sponsors of the successive "gag" principles that had lengthy blocked debate almost about slavery.
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Extra info for Arguing about Slavery: The Great Battle in the United States Congress
By now one, now another, now a third congressman insisting that no one wanted to talk about the subject of slavery-they talked about it. And by now a Southerner, now a Northerner, now a Westerner; now a Democrat, now a Whig, all saying that no one wanted to disturb the harmony and concord of the body-they disturbed it. They disagreed not, apparently, on the great subject of slavery itself-at least not until December 2 3 , 1 8 3 5 -and not in theory on the right of petition, which they all repeatedly called "sacred" (even those who most wanted to squelch it in this case called it sacred while doing so), but rather on the best method to combine their deep respect for the right of petition in general with their detestation of this set of petitions, and this group of petitioners, in particular.
He could not sit there and see the rights of the Southern People assaulted day after day, by the ignorant fanatics from whom these memorials proceed[ed] . Did Hammond make this novel motion on his own spontaneous ini tiative? Later on in life he wrote that he did, and the leading relevant history now says that he did. But some inferred otherwise, and the infer ence rested on two considerations: congressional living arrangements, and the intellectual force of the great figure from Hammond's own state, John C.
There had been floods of petitions on that subject, too. And what had the House done? It had sent them all to a select committee, which had composed so cogent an all-purpose response as to quiet the controversy forever. But perhaps the House suspected that this slavery matter was going to cut deeper than the issue of Sunday mail. There were old motions, new motions, motions to put on the table, rulings by the chair, appeals from rulings by the chair, points of order, calls for the previous question, and inquiries as to just what question was before the House.
Arguing about Slavery: The Great Battle in the United States Congress by William Lee Miller