Opinions of the Supreme Court in the Dred Scott Case.

Albany, New York, Evening Journal [Republican]

(7 March 1857)


Chief Justice Taney delivered to-day the opinion of the U. S. Supreme Court in the Dred Scott case. The points are that Scott is not a citizen; that he was not manumitted by being taken by his master when a slave into the then Territory of Illinois, and that the Missouri Compromise was an act unconstitutionally passed by Congress.

Justice Nelson, of New York, dissented. Five Judges, Taney, Campbell, Catron, Wayne, and Daniel, concur on the constitutional point against the Missouri Compromise. Nelson and Grier dodge by adopting the Missouri decisions for their justification in joining the majority. McLean and Curtis meet the issue squarely and sustain the jurisdiction of the Court, with the constitutionality of the Compromises.

It is no novelty to find the Supreme Court following the lead of the Slavery Extension party, to which most of its members belong. Five of the Judges are slaveholders, and two of the other four owe their appointments to their facile ingenuity in making State laws bend to Federal demands in behalf of "the Southern institution."


What document did the Supreme Court call unconstitutional?

How would this bring about a big change in the transporting of slaves in the U.S.?


The Dred Scott Case and the Missouri Compromise

Natchez, Mississippi, Courier [American]

(14 March 1857)

We have already published the fact that the U S. Supreme Court had decided this much talked of case, involving the Missouri Compromise question, and pronouncing the latter unconstitutional. We find in the St. Louis Intelligencer of the 7th inst., a telegraphic synopsis of the decision, which our readers will deem interesting.

It will be seen that the Court have also decided that Congress cannot confer on a territorial legislature, power to make enactments relative to the personal property of citizens of the United States in federal territory. This is a seeming blow at the doctrine of squatter sovereignty, but not quite as hard a one as we could wish the Court had given. As Congress has no power to exclude slavery from the territory and confer freedom upon negroes, it cannot confer that power on territorial agents. The stream can rise no higher than the fountain, as a matter of course. But Gen. Cass contends that the territories have this power, not so much by donation from Congress, as by some inherent sovereignty of their own. And this inherent squatter-sovereignty, (not derivative jurisdiction,) the Court did not pass upon. The question probably did not come before the Court. The opinion, however, as to Congressional power, is full of interest and point.

Did the writer of this article support the Dred Scott Decision?

How has this changed who makes the laws for personal property of citizens of the U.S. in federal territory?


What does this picture represent?

How does the picture show the changes that Dred Scott court case brought about in U.S. culture?



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Mrs. Coppola's Social Studies Class
JFK Middle School
Port Jefferson Station, New York

STANDARD 1: History of the United States and New York

Students will use a variety of intellectual skills to demonstrate their under-standing of major ideas, eras, themes, developments, and turning points in the history of the United States and New York.

STANDARD 3: Geography Students will use a variety of intellectual skills to demonstrate their under-standing of the geography of the interdependent world in which we live— local, national, and global—including the distribution of people, places, and environments over the Earth’s surface.

STANDARD 4: Economics

Students will use a variety of intellectual skills to demonstrate their under-standing of how the United States and other societies develop economic systems and associated institutions to allocate scarce resources, how major decision-making units function in the U.S. and other national economies, and how an economy solves the scarcity problem through market and non-market mechanisms.

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