From the U.S. House of Representatives website: On May 18, 1836, during the 24th Congress (1835–1837), the House of Representatives instituted the “gag rule.” In December 1835, Representative James Hammond of South Carolina demanded that anti-slavery petitions to the House of Representatives should not be received. Speaker James Polk of Tennessee referred the issue to a special committee to resolve the problem which tied up floor debate for weeks. Committee Chairman Henry L. Pinckney of South Carolina reported back that all petitions, memorials, or resolutions regarding slavery should automatically be tabled and that no further action be taken upon them. Representative John Quincy Adams of Massachusetts raised the first and most impassioned objections to the procedure. Adams shouted during the roll call vote, “I hold the resolution to be a direct violation of the Constitution of the United States.” For the next four Congresses, Adams fervently fought against the gag rule, declaring it a restriction on free speech. Despite his efforts, the House successfully reintroduced the gag rule each Congress until Adams finally mustered enough votes to repeal it on December 3, 1844.


Source: http://history.house.gov/HistoricalHighlight/Detail/35837


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