James Tallmadge of New York proposed a change to the state law, which would eventually end slavery in Missouri and free existing slave laborers. The amended law was narrowly passed in the House of Representatives, where the northerners had a slight lead. But in the Senate, where free and slave states had exactly the same number of senators, the pro-slavery group managed to remove Tallmadge`s amendment, and the House of Representatives refused to pass the law without passing it. African Americans clearly rejected slavery, and news of Congressional resistance to its extension spread to slave communities. Denmark Vesey, a free black man living in Charleston, South Carolina, made the most dramatic use of white disagreement over the future of slavery in the West. Vesey cited the Bible as well as congressional debates on the Missouri issue to denounce slavery from the pulpit of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, where he was a lay priest.