Dred Scott v. Sandford A Brief History with Documents

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 1997-03-15
  • Publisher: Bedford/St. Martin's

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Perhaps no other Supreme Court decision has had the political impact ofDred Scott v. Sandford. Using a variety of documents that reflect regional opinions and political debates, Paul Finkelman examines the 1857 decision that helped set in motion the events that eventually led to a new birth of freedom and the abolition of slavery in the United States.

Author Biography

Paul Finkelman is the author of An Imperfect Union: Slavery, Federalism, and Comity (1981); Slavery in the Courtroom (1985), which received the Joseph L. Andrews Award from the American Association of Law Libraries; and His Soul Goes Marching On: Responses to John Brown and the Harpers Ferry Raid (1995), which was a History Book Club selection. He has published numerous articles on American legal history and race relations and lectures frequently on the role of race in American legal development. In 1995, he was designated Virginia Historian of the Year by the Virginia Social Science Association.

Table of Contents





PART ONE. Introduction: The Dred Scott Case, Slavery, and the Politics of Law

An Overview of the Dred Scott Case

A Bad Decision

A Complex and Confused Case

Slavery in the Territories

Who Was Dred Scott?

Dred Scott Sues for Freedom

In the Federal Court

The Jurisdictional Issue and the Plea in Abatement

The Case in the Federal District Court

Before the Supreme Court

The Judges

The Compromise Not Taken

The Jurisdictional Question

Free Blacks under Taney’s Constitution: "They Had No Rights"

The Status of Slavery in the Territories under Dred Scott

The Territories Clause

The Fifth Amendment

Law as Politics

The Politics of Law

The Republican Fear of a Conspiracy

The Nationalization of Slavery

The Democratic Response





PART TWO. The Documents

1. Opinions of the Justices

Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney, Opinion of the Court in Dred Scott, Plaintiff in Error v. John F. A. Sandford

Justice James M. Wayne, Concurring Opinion

Justice Samuel Nelson, Concurring Opinion

Justice Robert Cooper Grier, Concurring Opinion

Justice Peter V. Daniel, Concurring Opinion

Justice John Archibald Campbell, Concurring Opinion

Justice John Catron, Concurring Opinion

Justice John McLean, Dissenting Opinion

Justice Benjamin Robbins Curtis, Dissenting Opinion

2. Newspaper Responses to the Dred Scott Decision

Varieties of Southern ProSlavery Opinion

Enquirer (Richmond), The Dred Scott Case, March 10, 1857

Mercury (Charleston), The Dred Scott Case – Supreme Court on the Rights of the South, April 2, 1857

Daily Picayune (New Orleans), Citizenship, March 21, 1857

The Buchanan Administration’s Paper Endorses the Decision

Union (Washington, D.C.), The Dred Scott Case, March 12, 1857

Northern Support for the Dred Scott Decision

Journal of Commerce (New York), The Decision of the Supreme Court, March

11, 1857

Journal of Commerce (New York), The Dred Scott Case, March 12, 1857

Post (Pittsburgh), The Dred Scott Case, March 14, 1857

Post (Pittsburgh), Seeking an Issue, March 17, 1857

Opposition to the Dred Scott Decision: A Spectrum of Northern Opinion

Tribune (New York), March 7, 1857

Daily Times (New York), The Slavery Question – The Decision of the Supreme Court, March 9, 1857

Evening Post
(New York), The Supreme Court of the United States, March 7, 1857

Independent (New York), Wickedness of the Decision in the Supreme Court against the African Race, March 19, 1857

Register (Salem), The U.S. Supreme Court, March 12, 1857

Zion’s Herald and Wesleyan Journal (Boston), The Late Decision of the Supreme Court of the United States, March 18, 1857

Lincoln’s Paper Responds

Tribune (Chicago), Who Are Negroes? March 12, 1857

Tribune (Chicago), The Dred Scott Case, March 17, 1857

Tribune (Chicago), Judge Curtis’s Opinion, March 19, 1857

A War for Public Opinion: The Washington Union and The New York Tribune

Union (Washington, D.C.), Unreasonable Complaints, March 21, 1857

Tribune (New York), Judge Taney’s Opinion, March 21, 1857

Tribune (New York), Editorial, March 21, 1857

Tribune (New York), Editorial, March 25, 1857

Union (Washington, D.C.), The Supreme Court and the New York Tribune, March 28, 1857

3. Political Debate in the North

Frederick Douglass, The Dred Scott Decision: Speech at New York, on the Occasion of the Anniversary of the American Abolition Society, May 11, 1857

Lincoln-Douglas Debates and the Dred Scott Decision

Abraham Lincoln, The "House Divided" Speech at Springfield, Illinois, June 16, 1858

Stephen A. Douglas, Speech at Chicago, Illinois, July 9, 1858

Abraham Lincoln, Speech at Chicago, Illinois, July 10, 1858

Stephen A. Douglas, Speech at Springfield, Illinois, July 17, 1858

The Debate at Freeport: Lincoln’s Questions and Douglas’s Answers, August 27, 1858

The Debate at Jonesboro, September 15, 1858

Congressional Debate

"Bust of Chief Justice Taney," Congressional Globe, February 23, 1865



Chronology of Events Related to Dred Scott (1787-1870)

Questions for Consideration

Selected Bibliography



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