In February 1836, South Carolina representative Charles Pinckney offered a resolution that the House of Representatives would table any petitions mentioning slavery and ban discussions of them by committees. Despite opposition from Northern representatives, who were led by former president John Quincy Adams, the resolution passed. Adams dedicated himself to fighting to overturn this so called “Gag Rule,” writing in his diary, “This is a cause upon which I am entering at the last stage of my life…The cause is good and great.”
Have students read Handout A and Handout B, then answer the following questions.
Comprehension and Analysis Questions:
- Why did Southern representatives pass the Gag Rule?
- What constitutional principles did Adams believe that the Gag Rule violated?
- What principles did the petitioners in Handout B believe slavery violated?
- How are the principles that Adams defended and the principles that the petitioners defended related?
- In what way does the story of the Gag Rule illustrate increasing sectional tensions between the North and South in this period?
Answer Key: The Cause is Great and Good: John Quincy Adams, the Gag Rule, and the Fight Against Slavery
Answer key for The Cause is Great and Good: John Quincy Adams, the Gag Rule, and the Fight Against Slavery
John Quincy Adams and the Gag Rule
By the end of this section, you will explain how different regional interests affected debates about the role of the federal government in the early republic.
Justice: John Quincy Adams and The Amistad
In this lesson, students will analyze the reasons why John Quincy Adams acted as the defense attorney for the Africans on The Amistad. They will discuss Adams’ role in the case and determine ways they can protect justice themselves.
John Quincy Adams and the Election of 1824
The Election of 1824 was the first to be decided in the House of Representatives after the Twelfth Amendment was passed. Jackson received the most electoral votes and the greatest percentage of the popular vote (inasmuch as it existed in 1824), but the House voted for John Quincy Adams. In this lesson, students explore the election of 1824 and evaluate the Electoral College system.
Benjamin Franklin and the First Abolitionist Petitions
How did Benjamin Franklin fight for the abolition of slavery?
I WILL BE HEARD: William Lloyd Garrison, Abolitionism, Colonization, and Identity
In this lesson, students will explore the life of William Lloyd Garrison and follow the development of his identity. Through his example, students will understand how they can develop and refine their identity in their own lives, and how through this refinement help advance freedom for themselves and others.