Rebellion 1836     
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Congressional Scales, a true balance
Congressional Scales, a true balance. Lithograph, 1850. The cartoon satirized President Zachary Taylor's attempts to balance Southern and Northern interests on the question of slavery in 1850. Published by N. Currier. Library of Congress.
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The War Power

For pro-slavery lawmakers, Adamsí argument struck at the heart of the constitutional defense of slavery. Slaveholders and their political allies had long maintained that the federal government had no right to interfere with the institution. This dogma staked out vital common ground for politicians, allowing a critical mass to work together within their parties and across sectional lines. From at least the Compromise of 1820 to the eve of the Civil War, the dogma of constitutional non-interference helped hold sectionalism at bay. But as early as 1836, Adams showed that the idea was based on false premises, since in times of war, the government undoubtedly retained the right to interfere with slavery. The army could impress slaves, as Andrew Jackson himself had done during the War of 1812, and it could liberate rebellious slaves or slaves of enemy combatants, all under the broad auspices of the war power.

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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