ANTI-SLAVERY IN CONGRESS
FOR a long time the abolition controversy little disturbed the great clearing - house of public opinion at Washington. Not that Congress at first considered slavery outside of its functions or unsuitable for its deliberations; but from 1829 to 1835 the country was absorbed in other questions. The abolitionists, however, were a folk who pressed into every opening where they could affect public sentiment, and they adopted a system of sending petitions for emancipation in the District of Columbia to members of Congress good-natured enough to present them.
For some years such petitions were few in number and excited little interest. December 12, 1831, John Quincy Adams presented fifteen petitions, but deprecated a discussion which "would lead to illwill, to heart-burning, to mutual hatred . . . without accomplishing anything else."1 These petitions were referred to committees who reported against granting the prayer. In February, 1835, the House____________________