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Slavery Divides New York Legislature in 1844
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Resolved, That the legislature of this state deem the right of petitioning congress for relief against any and all manner of grievances a sacred right, solemnly guaranteed by the constitution of the United States to every human being within the territory thereof….


Resolved, That Congress has no power under the constitution, to interfere with or control the domestic institutions of the several states; and that such states are the sole and proper judges of every thing appertaining to their own affairs, not prohibited by the constitution; that all efforts of the abolitionists or others, made to induce Congress to interfere with questions of slavery…are calculated to lead to the most alarming and dangerous consequences….

[SLAVERY AND ABOLITION—NEW YORK STATE]. New York Assembly. Concurrent Resolutions against U.S. House of Representatives “gag rule,” Samuel Stevens, February 16, 1844, Not passed. 1 p., 6 ¾ x 12 in. Together with: New York Assembly. Concurrent Resolutions against Congressional interference with slavery in the states, Thomas N. Carr, March 12, 1844. Not passed. 1 p., 6¾ x 12 in. Two items.

Inventory #23389.02-.03       Price: $1,500

Historical Background
These two sets of concurrent resolutions, introduced less than a month apart in the New York Assembly in 1844 demonstrate how slavery divided those in the northern states. One assemblyman emphasizes the freedom of petition while another emphasizes “the equality of rights and privileges” among different states and sections of the nation. Neither set of resolutions passed, but the divisions reflected here continued to and through the Civil War two decades later.

The U.S. House of Representatives first passed the “gag rule” in 1836, automatically tabling all petitions calling for the restriction or abolition of slavery. In 1840, the House went even further, narrowly passing a standing rule to refuse even to receive anti-slavery petitions. Former President John Quincy Adams led the fight to rescind the unconstitutional rule, which the House finally repealed on December 3, 1844.

Because the New York state legislature elected U.S. Senators, many of the resolutions “instructed” the state’s U.S. Senators and “requested” New York’s U.S. Representatives to take certain actions or support certain initiatives.

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