Fredrick Douglass anti-slavery politician

John quincy adams

As a diplomat and one of the nation’s secretaries of state, Adams unintentionally helped open new territories to slavery in Florida and along the Gulf Coast. After serving for one term as president, he played a critical role in nurturing antislavery sentiment in the North, even though he never considered himself an abolitionist. As a Representative in Congress, he led a nine-year campaign to overturn the “Gag Rule,” under which the House automatically tabled antislavery petitions. In the face of accusations of treason and assassination threats, he succeeded in making slavery subject to parliamentary debate. He also argued successfully on behalf of the Amistad rebels, African blacks who had staged a revolt on Spanish slave ship Amistad and were tried for mutiny and murder. He convinced the U.S. Supreme Court that the rebels’ enslavement was illegal under international law and that African captives had the same right to use violence to win their freedom as did the American colonists during the Revolution. Perhaps most importantly, he developed the idea that a president, under his powers as commander-in-chief, had the authority to abolish slavery.

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