- Paperback: 592 pages
- Publisher: Vintage (January 12, 1998)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0679768440
- ISBN-13: 978-0679768449
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.2 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 26 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #234,333 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Arguing about Slavery: John Quincy Adams and the Great Battle in the United States Congress
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From the Inside Flap
In the 1830s slavery was so deeply entrenched that it could not even be discussed in Congress, which had enacted a "gag rule" to ensure that anti-slavery petitions would be summarily rejected. This stirring book chronicles the parliamentary battle to bring "the peculiar institution" into the national debate, a battle that some historians have called "the Pearl Harbor of the slavery controversy." The campaign to make slavery officially and respectably debatable was waged by John Quincy Adams who spent nine years defying gags, accusations of treason, and assassination threats. In the end he made his case through a combination of cunning and sheer endurance. Telling this story with a brilliant command of detail, Arguing About Slavery endows history with majestic sweep, heroism, and moral weight.
"Dramatic, immediate, intensely readable, fascinating and often moving."--New York Times Book Review
About the Author
William Lee Miller has taught at Yale University, Smith College, Indiana University, and the University of Virginia, where he is currently Miller Center of Public Affairs Scholar in Ethics and Institutions. He has been an editor and writer on a political magazine, a speechwriter, and a three-term alderman. He is the author of numerous books, most recently Arguing About Slavery, which won the D.B. Hardeman Prize for the best book on Congress.
Top customer reviews
Another other interesting angle to this story is that is underscores an interesting pattern in politics: how a dominant power/position undermines itself by seeking to eliminate dissent. I'm sure other readers could spot other moments in history where the missteps of the Slave Power to cut off any and all discussion around regulating slavery mimic recent history or even current events.
Finally, for any of those interested in the principles of the founding of the country, a very robust discussion of those takes place in this book. I found the recantation of how the government was formed, trade-offs made and hopes and aspirations of the founders to be tremendously enjoyable.
All told, this is a great book for anyone interested in this period of time and who want to read an excellent narrative.
Adams would do the job that no one else had the courage to do. Knowing that someone had to stand up for the truth, when he walked into Congress, he stared down the House of Representatives of over one hundred slaveowners, pointed his finger in their faces and told them what they didn't want to hear. "Slavery is a sin against God. I'm going to drive it backwards until it disappears from this nation and the world." With that Adams began a one man war against slavery. For the next decade he attacked every aspect of it, fighting laws and the deep pockets that controlled the federal government of that time.
This is the true story of that vicious battle and Adam's brilliant tactics against impossible odds. If you're into reading Civil War history then this is the book for you. Here's my favorite quote from Adams when he was preparing to save over fifty lives by defending the Amistad case before the Supreme Court.
He wrote in his journal, “The world, the flesh, and all the devils in hell are arrayed against any man who dares to join the standard of Almighty God to put down the slave-trade; and what can I, upon the verge of my seventy-fourth birthday, with a shaking hand, a darkening eye, a drowsy brain, and with all my faculties dropping from me one by one, as the teeth are dropping from my head––what can I do for the cause of God and man? Yet my conscience presses me on; let me die upon the breach.”
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