Right to Petition Cane
In the 1830s abolitionist groups conducted massive petitioning drives calling for an end to slavery. On May 26, 1836, the House of Representatives adopted a “Gag Rule” stating that all petitions regarding slavery would be tabled without being read, referred, or printed. Former President John Quincy Adams, who had returned to Congress, took up the petitioners’ cause. Slowly support for Adams’s campaign grew, and on December 3, 1844, the House abolished the rule. The vote was a major defeat to the supporters of slavery, who recognized that their power to maintain federal support was at risk. John Quincy Adams was presented with this ivory cane in recognition of his leadership against the Gag Rule.