5OHN_ _~ZNC~ ADAMS._~ 43 l
On one occasion Mr. Adams presented a
petition, signed by several women, against
the annexation of Texas for the purpose of
cutting it up into slave States. Mr. Howard,
of Maryland, said that these women
discredited not only themselves, but their
section of the country, by turning from
their domestic duties to the conflicts of political
"Are women," exclaimed Mr. Adams,
"to have no opinions or actions on subjects
relating to the general welfare? Where
did the gentleman get his principle? Did
he find it in sacred history,-in the language
of Miriam, the prophetess, in one of the
noblest and sublime songs of triumph that
ever met the human eye or ear? Did the
gentleman never hear of Deborah, to whom
the children of Israel came up for judgment
? Has he forgotten the deed of Jael,
who slew the dreaded enemy of her country
? Has he forgotten Esther, who, by her
petition saved her people and her country?
" To go from sacred history to profane,
does the gentleman there find it 'discreditable'
for women to take an interest in political
affairs? Has he forgotten the Spartan
mother, who said to her son when going
out to battle, 'Mly son, come back to me
with thy shield, or upon thy shield ?' Does
he remember Cloelia and her hundred companions,
who swam across the river untcer
a shower of darts, escaping from Porsena ?
Has he forgotten Cornelia, the mother of
the Gracchi ? Does he not remember Portia,
the wife of Brutus and the daughter of
"To come to later periods, what says the
history of our Anglo-Saxon ancestors?
To say nothing of Boadicea, the British
heroine in the time of the Cesars, what
name is more illustrious than that of Elizabeth?
Or, if he will go to the continent,
will he not find the names of Maria Theresa
of Hungary, of the two Catherines of
Prussia, and of Isabella of Castile, the patroness
of Columbus ? Did she bring ' discredit'
on her sex by mingling in politics ? "
In this glowing strain Mr. Adams si.
lenced and overwhelmed his antagonists.
In January, 1842, Mr. Adams presented
a petition from forty-five citizens of Haverhill,
Massachusetts, praying for a peaceable
dissolution of the Union. The pro-slavery
party in Congress, who were then plotting
the destruction of the Government, were
aroused to a pretense of commotion such as
even our stormy hall of legislation has
rarely witnessed. They met in caucus, and,
finding that they probably would not be
able to expel Mr. Adams from the House
drew up a series of resolutions, which, if
adopted, would inflict upon him disgrace,
equivalent to expulsion. Mr. Adams had
presented the petition, which was most respectfully
worded, and had moved that it be
referred to a committee instructed ,to report
an answer, showing the reason why
the prayer ought not to be granted.
It was the 25th of January. The whole
body of the pro-slavery party came crowding
together in the House, prepared to
crush Mr. Adams forever. One of the number,
Thomas F. Marshall, of Kentucky,' was
appointed to read the resolutions, which
accused Mr. Adams of high treason, of
having insulted the Government, and or
meriting expulsion; but for which deserved
punishment, the House, in its great mercy,
would substitute its severest censure. With
the assumption of a very solemn and mag:
isterial air, there being breathless silence in
the audience, Mr. Marshall hurled the carefully
prepared anathemas at his victim.
Mr. Adams stood alone, the .whole pro-slavery
party against him.
As sbon as the resolutions were read,
every eye being fixed upon him, that bold
old man, whose scattered locks were whitened
by seventy-five years, casting a withering
glance in the direction of his assailants
Lewis Publishing Company. Memorial and Biographical History of Dallas County, Texas.. Chicago, Illinois. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth20932/. Accessed September 1, 2014.