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Celebrating the Emancipation Proclamation: John Adams



John Adams’ presidency (1825-29) also underscored another escalating tension. Industrialization of the North was creating a commercial – and economic – imbalance that would be exacerbated by the addition of new territories and states.

1820: “If I were a member of the Legislature of one of the free States, I would move for a declaratory act, that as long as the article in the Constitution of Missouri depriving the colored citizens of the State, say of Massachusetts, of their rights as citizens of the United States within the State of Missouri, should subsist, so long the white citizens of the State of Missouri should be held as aliens within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, not entitled to claim or enjoy within the same any right or privilege of a citizen of the United States.”

1833: Congress debated a tariff which would have protected the manufacturers of the North and hurt the farmers of the South. Congressman Clayton of Georgia complained: “Our slaves are our machinery, and we have as good a right to profit by them as do the northern men who profit by the machinery they employ.”

In replying, now Congressman Adams referred to the Constitutional clause that counted each slave as three-fifths of a free person for calculating how many congresspersons each state was entitled: “Now those Machines have twenty-odd Representatives in this Hall, Representatives elected not by the machines, but by those who own them… Have the manufacturers asked for representation from their machines? Their looms and factories have no vote in Congress. . . . Everybody knows that where this type of machinery (slaves) exists there is liable to be more violence than elsewhere because the machinery sometimes exerts self-moving power. Such a case (Nat Turner rebellion) has been exerted.

1836: “The war in Texas is a Mexican civil war, and a war for the reestablishment of slavery where it was abolished. It is a war between slavery and mancipation, and every effort has been made to drive us into the war on the side of slavery. Do not you, slaveholding exterminators of Indians, from the bottoms of your ouls, hate the Mexican-Spaniard-Indian emancipator of slaves? … And this is the nation with which, at the instigation of your executive government, you are now rushing into war – a war of conquest.”

1839: Proposing his own solution to the slavery issue:
“1. From and after the 4th of July, 1842, there shall be, throughout the United States, no hereditary slavery; but on and after that day every child born within the United States, their territories or jurisdiction, shall be born free.
2. With the exception of the territory of Florida, there shall henceforth never be admitted into this Union any state, the constitution of which shall tolerate within the same the existence of slavery.
3. From and after the 4th of July, 1845, there shall be neither slavery nor slave trade at the seat of the government of the United States (i.e. Washington, D.C.)” The House never voted on these resolutions.

For the years 2012-2013, Our Story, Inc. will be be celebrating the 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Project and its legacy in Nevada. This article is part of a series to be published during that time. The first part of the series covers the presidencies leading up to Lincoln in order to review national policy and experience leading to emancipation. Please feel free to circulate and share (credited), comment or submit your own articles. Prior articles available.

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