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Milton J. Madison - An American Refugee Now Living in China, Where Liberty is Ascending

Federalism, Free Markets and the Liberty To Let One's Mind Wander. I Am Very Worried About the Fate of Liberty in the USA, Where Government is Taking people's Lives ____________________________________________________________________________________________ "Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice. Tolerance in the face of tyranny is no virtue." -Barry Goldwater-

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Who Was Dred Scott....

Dred Scott,
was a slave who sued unsuccessfully for his freedom in the famous Dred Scott v. Sandford case of 1856. His case was based on the fact that he and his wife Harriet had lived, while slaves, in states and territories where slavery was illegal, including Illinois and parts of the Louisiana Purchase. The court ruled 7 to 2 against Scott, finding that he held no property and therefore was not entitled to file suit in a federal court.

The case raised the issue of a slave's freedom when he was in a free state. Congress had not asserted whether slaves were free once they stepped foot on Northern soil. The ruling arguably violated the Missouri Compromise because, based on the court's logic, a white slave owner could purchase slaves in a slave state and then bring his slaves to a state where slavery was illegal without losing rights to the slaves. This factor upset the Northern Republicans and further split Northern and Southern relations.
The decision, handed down 150 years ago, today, March 6, 1857, was based upon the following majority Supreme Court Decision....
With the aid of new lawyers (including Montgomery Blair), the Scotts sued again in federal court. They lost and appealed to the United States Supreme Court. In 1856, Chief Justice Roger B. Taney delivered the majority opinion. It consisted of the following points:
* Any person descended from black Africans, whether slave or free, is not a citizen of the United States, according to the U.S. Constitution.
* The Ordinance of 1787 could not confer freedom or citizenship within the Northwest Territory to Black people.
* The provisions of the Act of 1820, known as the Missouri Compromise, were voided as a legislative act because the act exceeded the powers of Congress, insofar as it attempted to exclude slavery and impart freedom and citizenship to Black people in the northern part of the Louisiana cession.

In effect, the Court ruled that slaves had no claim to freedom; they were property and not citizens; they could not bring suit in federal court; and because slaves were private property, the federal government could not revoke a white slave owner's right to own a slave based on where he lived, thus nullifying the essence of the Missouri Compromise. Chief Justice Taney, speaking for the majority, also ruled that Scott was a slave, an object of private property, and therefore subject to the Fifth Amendment prohibition against taking property from its owner "without due process."
Most of the appointees to the Supreme Court at the time came from slave owning families. And this...
Soon after the decision, Taylor Blow, a son of Scott's original owner, Peter Blow, purchased Scott and his family in order to free them. (the Blow children had also provided financial support for Scott's lawsuits.)

Dred Scott was free from 26th May, 1857 until his death from tuberculosis on 17th September, 1858. His grave is in St. Louis Calvary Cemetery.

In June 1862, Congress and the President ignored The Dred Scott Decision and enacted a law prohibiting slavery in the territories.

Chief Justice Taney died in 1864, and Congress denied funds for a bust honoring Taney in 1865. Senator Sumner of Massachusetts denounced Taney's Dred Scott Decision as the "incident of our history... most deadly in its consequences."

In 1868, the 14th amendment granted citizenship to any person born in the United States, including African Americans - thus negating the Dred Scott Decision.


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