Slavery, Law, and Politics: The Dred Scott Case in Historical Perspective

By Don E. Fehrenbacher | Go to book overview

11
In the Stream of History

Dred Scott, after his eleven-year struggle for freedom, lived only sixteen months as a free man. He and his family were transferred by the Chaffees to Taylor Blow in May 1857 and promptly manumitted. The Scotts remained in St. Louis, Dred working as a hotel porter and his wife Harriet, as a laundress. According to newspaper reports, Eliza and Lizzie ran away for a time but had returned home by 1858. A local newspaper described Scott as "a small, pleasant-looking negro," with a moustache and "imperial" beard, dressed in a suit of "seedy black," and looking "somewhat the worse for wear and tear." Missouri law required that Dred and Harriet post bond of $1000 for good behavior in order to continue living in the state. This they did on May 4, 1858, with Taylor Blow acting as security. Soon, however, Dred was stricken with consumption, and he died on September 17. Press accounts of his death were generally brief, but some editors took time to reflect on the fame that had enveloped this obscure black man and on the significance of his day in court. "In ages yet to come," said the New York Herald, " Dred Scott and the decision which bears his name will be familiar words in the mouth of the ranting demagogue in rostrum and pulpit, and of the student of political history."

Scott was buried in the St. Louis Wesleyan Cemetery, which within a decade became a casualty of urban expansion and was

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Slavery, Law, and Politics: The Dred Scott Case in Historical Perspective
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents ix
  • Introduction 3
  • 1 - Slavery and Race in the American Constitutional System 7
  • 2 - Expansion and Slavery in National Politics 41
  • 3 - Toward Judicial Resolution 72
  • 4 - The Taney Court and Judicial Power 102
  • 5 - The Dred Scott Case in Missouri 121
  • 6 - Before the Supreme Court 151
  • 7 - The Opinion of the Court 183
  • 8 - Concurrence, Dissent, and Public Reaction 214
  • 9 - The Lecompton and Freeport Connections 244
  • 10 - Not Peace but a Sword 273
  • 11 - In the Stream of History 295
  • Selected Books for Further Reading 309
  • Index 313
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