May 26, 1836Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this objectJames K. Polk of Tennessee, Speaker at the time the gag rule was instituted, served seven terms in the House of Representatives before becoming governor of Tennessee and, eventually, U.S. President.On this date, during the 24th Congress (1835–1837), the U.S. House of Representatives instituted the “gag rule,” the first instance of what would become a traditional practice forbidding the House from considering anti-slavery petitions. Representative James Hammond of South Carolina first proposed the gag rule in December 1835. Speaker James Polk of Tennessee referred the issue to a special committee to resolve the problem which tied up floor debate for weeks. Committee Chairman Henry L. Pinckney of South Carolina reported back that all petitions, memorials, or resolutions regarding slavery should automatically be tabled and that no further action be taken upon them. Representative John Quincy Adams of Massachusetts raised the first and most impassioned objections to the procedure. Adams shouted during the roll call vote, “I hold the resolution to be a direct violation of the Constitution of the United States.” For the next four Congresses, Adams fervently fought against the gag rule, declaring it a restriction on free speech. Despite his efforts, the House successfully reintroduced the gag rule each Congress until Adams finally mustered enough votes to repeal it on December 3, 1844.
0017 – Germanicus of Rome celebrated his victory over the Germans.
1328 – William of Ockham was forced to flee from Avignon by Pope John XXII.
1521 – Martin Luther was banned by the Edict of Worms because of his religious beliefs and writings.
1647 – A new law banned Catholic priests from the colony of Massachusetts. The penalty was banishment or death for a second offense.
1660 – King Charles II of England landed at Dover after being exiled for nine years.
1670 – A treaty was signed in secret in Dover, England, between Charles II and Louis XIV ending the hostilities between them.
1691 – Jacob Leiser, leader of the popular uprising in support of William and Mary’s accession to the English throne, was executed for treason.
1736 – The British and Chickasaw Indians defeated the French at the Battle of Ackia.
1791 – The French Assembly forced King Louis XVI to hand over the crown and state assets.
1805 – Napoleon Bonaparte was crowned King of Italy in Milan Cathedral.
1831 – Russians defeated the Poles at battle of Ostrolenska.
1835 – A resolution was passed in the U.S. Congress stating that Congress has no authority over state slavery laws.
1836 – The U.S. House of Representatives adopted what has been called the Gag Rule.
1864 – The Territory of Montana was organized.
1865 – Arrangements were made in New Orleans for the surrender of Confederate forces west of the Mississippi.
1868 – U.S. President Andrew Johnson was acquitted, by one vote, of all charges in his impeachment trial.
1896 – The Dow Jones Industrial Average appeared for the first time in the “Wall Street Journal.”
1896 – The last czar of Russia, Nicholas II, was crowned.
1908 – In Persia, the first oil strike was made in the Middle East.
1913 – Actors’ Equity Association was organized in New York City.
1926 – In Morocco, rebel leader Abd el Krim surrendered.
1938 – The House Committee on Un-American Activities began its work of searching for subversives in the United States.
1940 – The evacuation of Allied troops from Dunkirk, France, began during World War II.
1946 – A patent was filed in the United States for an H-bomb.
1946 – British Prime Minister Winston Churchill signed a military pact with Russian leader Joseph Stalin. Stalin promised a “close collaboration after the war.”
1956 – The first trailer bank opened for business in Locust Grove, Long Island, NY. The 46-foot-long trailer took in $100,000 in deposits its first day.
1958 – Union Square, San Francisco became a state historical landmark.
1959 – The word “Frisbee” became a registered trademark of Wham-O.
1961 – Civil rights activist group Freedom Ride Coordinating Committee was established in Atlanta, GA.
1961 – A U.S. Air Force bomber flew across the Atlantic in a record time of just over three hours.
1969 – The Apollo 10 astronauts returned to Earth after a successful eight-day dress rehearsal for the first manned moon landing.
1972 – The Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT I) was signed by the U.S. and USSR. The short-term agreement put a freeze on the testing and deployment of intercontinental and submarine-launched ballistic missiles for a 5-year period.
1973 – Kathy Schmidt set an American women’s javelin record with a throw of 207 feet, 10 inches.
1975 – American stuntman Evel Knievel suffered severe spinal injuries in Britain when he crashed while attempting to jump 13 buses in his car.
1977 – George H. Willig was arrested after he scaled the South Tower of New York’s World Trade Center. It took him 3 1/2 hours.
1987 – Sri Lanka launched Operation Liberation. It was an offensive against the Tamil rebellion in Jaffra.
1988 – The Edmonton Oilers won their fourth NHL Stanley Cup in five seasons. They swept the series 4 games to 0 against the Boston Bruins.
1994 – U.S. President Clinton renewed trade privileges for China, and announced that his administration would no longer link China’s trade status with its human rights record.
1998 – The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that police officers in high-speed chases are liable for bystander injuries only if their “actions shock the conscience.”
1998 – The Grand Princess cruise ship made its inaugural cruise. The ship measured 109,000 tons and cost approximately $450 million, making it the largest and most expensive cruise ship ever built.
1998 – The United States Senate approved legislation that allowed the U.S. Mint flexibility on how the mandatory inscriptions on the Washington quarter could be placed. H.R. 3301 allowed the mandatory inscriptions to be moved to the front of the quarter for the 50 States Circulating Commemorative Coin Program.