The Dred Scott Supreme Court Case Analysis

1833 Words8 Pages
The 1850s were a very divisive time in American history. Americans were becoming ever increasingly divided over the issue of slavery. The heart of the North was abolitionist, or anti-slavery. On the other hand, in the South slavery was widespread to provide workers for the large cotton plantations. This deep rivalry, would ultimately lead to the Civil War. On the abolitionist side, there were many brave key figures who lead the fight. William Lloyd Garrison was a prominent American abolitionist, who articulated his views through journalism. From his perspective, the original source of slavery was the Constitution, which was written by slave owners. He believed that the best way to combat slavery was to have a peaceful pacifist movement that…show more content…
In numerous ways, the decision made in Scott v. Sanford misinterpreted and misapplied the Constitution, all of the while exceeding the bounds of the issue that it was asked to decide. Roger Taney, who was the chief justice of the United States and attorney general at the time of the Dred Scott decision, viewed the Constitution as a political compact with the primary focus being slavery. Taney misinterpreted the Constitution in many ways to arrive at this conclusion. The Constitution had changed many clauses of the Constitution regarding slavery such as no longer protecting the slave trade, equal representation in the Senate and representation fairly based on population size of a state in the House of Representatives to eliminate the political protection the South once had, and the specific language in the preamble such as “we the people ordain and establish this Constitution” would also apply to the Dred Scott court case. Taney misinterpreted and misapplied the Constitution with regards to slavery in many…show more content…
The Dred Scott case led the court justices to ask the question, what defines a “citizen”? The first issue that was presented regarding citizenship was the fact that a lawsuit in a federal court could only occur between a citizen of one state suing a citizen of a different state. The court had to decide if Scott was in fact a citizen at all and if so of what state. The majority believed that Scott couldn’t be a citizen due to the fact that he was a “negro whose ancestors were imported to the country as slaves”. Roger Taney continued to emphasize his opinion that a “race so far inferior to whites” could in no way be meant to be entitled to citizenship. On the contrary, dissenters of the case such as Benjamin Curtis used examples from the Articles of Confederation to argue the case that the founding fathers didn’t create citizenship for whites only. Curtis described how in the Articles of Confederation it described “free inhabitants of the States..and privileges of the citizens” . Curtis further pointed out that no exceptions were articulated and that all citizens were free not just whites. The Dred Scott Case brought about arguments over larger issues facing the nation at the time, such as what specifically denoted who could enjoy

More about The Dred Scott Supreme Court Case Analysis

Open Document