Rebellion 1836     
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John Quincy Adams
John Quincy Adams. Lithograph published by G. Endicott between 1834 and 1840. Library of Congress.
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In 1836, 27 years before Lincoln would be credited with abolishing slavery, U.S. Congressman John Quincy Adams first introduced the explosive question of slave emancipation and the “war power.” During a debate over reparations for refugees from Creek hostilities in Georgia and Alabama, Adams shocked his fellow Congressmen by arguing that, at least hypothetically, southern slaves had the ability to win freedom through insurrection should the federal government find it expedient to grant them liberty. “Suppose the case of a servile war, complicated, as to some extent it is even now, with an Indian war,” Adams argued. In such a case, “the slave may emancipate himself” on the basis of his rebel status, since the federal government retained the right to capture slaves and offer them freedom under the “war power [which] is limited only by the laws and usages of nations.”

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Sources: Register of Debates, House of Representatives, 24th Cong. 1st Sess. 440. ©
Part 4, Freedom: Outline  l Images
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 Trail Narrative
 + Prologue
 + Background: 1693-1812
 + Early Years: 1812-1832
 + War: 1832-1838
 + Exile: 1838-1850
 - Freedom: 1850-1882
+ Cost of Freedom
+ Liberty Foretold
spacer spacer Renown in Exile
The War Power
Lincoln's Choice
Black Militants
+ Liberty Found
 + Legacy & Conclusion