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Representative James Henry Hammond of South Carolina

February 01, 1836
Representative James Henry Hammond of South Carolina Image courtesy of Library of Congress An illustration of the Capitol that dates to the era of the "gag rule" against slavery petitions. The low Bulfinch dome was replaced by the massive modern dome during the Civil War.
On this date, Representative James Henry Hammond of South Carolina, delivered the first defense in Congress of the institution of slavery when he spoke to explain his motion that antislavery petitions “be not received,” by the House. Hammond charged that northern abolitionists employed the petitions as part of a “systematic plan of operations, intended to subvert the institutions of the South.” He added, “I believe [slavery] to be the greatest of all the great blessings which a kind Providence has bestowed upon our glorious region.” In May 1836, the House adopted the so-called “gag rule,” which forbade any debate over slavery. It remained in effect until December 1844.

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