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

By Don E. Fehrenbacher | Go to book overview

5
The
Dred Scott Case
in Missouri

Gateway to the trans-Mississippi West, St. Louis in 1830 was a flourishing river port that attracted many Americans on the move. Among the newcomers that year were Peter Blow and his wife Elizabeth, together with their three daughters, four sons, and six slaves. Once the owner of many acres in his native Virginia and more recently an Alabama planter, Blow was ready to try something other than farming. He set himself up as proprietor of a boarding-house called the "Jefferson Hotel," but the venture proved less than successful. Elizabeth Blow soon fell victim to a lingering disease and died in the summer of 1831. Early the next year, Peter Blow gave up hotel-keeping. His own health began to fail, and he died on June 23, 1832.

In the records of the 1830 census, Blow appears as the owner of five male slaves and one female slave. Evidently, he sold one of the five before he died; for the inventory of his estate lists only four males and one female. After his death, and probably during the year 1833, a second slave, named Sam, was sold for $500 to meet creditors' claims against the estate. None of the other four Blow slaves were sold at this time. Meanwhile, Dr. John Emerson of St. Louis had been trying to obtain an appointment as assistant surgeon in the United States army. In December 1833, Emerson received his commission and reported for duty at Fort Armstrong in Illinois. He took with him a Negro

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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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