The second event that minimized attention to the Black Seminoles
was enactment of the infamous "gag rule." Voted into law by a Southern-dominated Congress in 1836, the gag rule prohibited all discussion of abolition and slavery in the U.S. Congress.
On its face the rule seemed baldly unconstitutional. Yet a version of it remained in place for the length of the Second Seminole War, effectively limiting open, legislative debate on the war's pro-slavery character.*
[Text of the
1836 "Gag Rule"]
Also known as the Pinckney Resolution, the 1836 "gag rule" instructed that:
"No petition, memorial, resolution, or other paper praying the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia or any State or Territory, or the slave trade between the States or Territories in which it now exists, shall be received by this House, or entertained in any way whatever."
U.S. Congress Register, 24th Cong., 1st sess., 2756-2757, Giddings Speeches 52, Twyman 149-54. For general information on the gag rule see Buck
or Miller Arguing. ©
Part 2, War: l
*While it is commonly described in the singular, the "gag rule"
in Congress prohibiting discussion of slavery was actually a series of rules voted in by different U.S. Congresses from 1836-1844.
All were similar to the 1836 rule with subtle variations based on parliamentary
initial rule was not passed in 1836 because of the Second Seminole War. Rather, it was passed in response to the flood of petitions against slavery that came into Congress after the 1835 session, through the organized efforts of the antislavery movement. At the very least,
however, the war significantly contributed to the atmosphere that produced the rule.
And without the 1836 and subsequent gag rules in effect, the war would have
likely become a cause célèbre for the antislavery petitioners, as later events would indicate.
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