“Dred Scott’s Case.” Editorial.


In this editorial from the Illinois State Register, the author applauds the Supreme Court’s decision in the Dred Scott Case and mocks the Republican Party’s opposition to it. The editorial also gives a concise summary of the decision and its implications.


[1] We had received the decision of the court in the above case, and had intended it for our papers on Monday, but in consequence of the Inaugural message [2] we were compelled to postpone it, and we then mislaid it so as to be too late for our paper on yesterday. But it will be seen that the great difficulty is solved, and that the black republicans have wasted more breath, ink and time on the Missouri compromise, [3] as they were pleased to call it, than it took to bring it into existence. The Missouri Compromise with them meant everything, without it the world would be at an end. In their pretended zeal to restore it they endangered the safety of the government and the constitution. For its sake hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of clergymen prostituted their holy office and the religion of Christ, and brought God’s holy cause into disrepute and disrespect. To restore it the black republicans attempted to elect a man who was wanting in every requirement for a proper discharge of the duties devolving on a president. For a period of over two years every good republican instead of saying amen at the end of his prayer, said Missouri compromise. The constitution was nothing and nowhere when compared to their darling compromise. But as a certain very great man one said, “Things is changed.”

The supreme court of the United States, the highest and most dignified tribunal in any civilized country, and composed of the very first order of talent in the world, and to whose decisions it is an honor to bow with respectful deference, have had the darling bantling of black republicanism under consideration, and announce it illegitimate. They say it is the offspring of red hot abolitionism, and cannot be acknowledged as having anything honest or upright about it. Thus it is thrown upon the hands of the black republicans who are compelled to provide for it.

DECISION OF THE DRED SCOTT CASE. — Washington, March 6. — The opinion of the supreme court in the Dred Scott case was delivered to-day by Chief Justice Taney. It was a full and elaborate statement of the the views of the court. They have decided that following all important facts: 1.That negroes, whether slave or free, that is, men of the African race, are not citizens of the United States, by the constitution. 2. That the ordinance of 1857 [4] had no independent constitutional legal effect subsequently to the adoption of the constitution, and could not operate of itself to confer freedom or citizenship within the northwest territory on negroes, not citizens by the constitution. 3. That the provision of the act of 1820, commonly called the Missouri compromise, so far as it is understood to exclude negro slavery from and communicate freedom and citizenship to negroes in the northern part of the country is unconstitutional. The Louisiana session was a legislative act exceeding the power of congress and void of no legal effect to that end. In deciding these main points the supreme court determined the following incidental points. 1. The expression, territory, and other property of the Union, in the constitution, applies in terms only to such territory as the Union possessed at the time of the adoption of the constitution. 2. The right of citizens of the United States emigrating to any federal territory, and the power of the federal government there, depends on the general provisions of the constitution, which defines in this, as in all other respects, the powers of congress. 3. As congress does not possess power itself to make enactments in relation to persons and property of citizens of the United States in federal territory other than such as the constitution confers, so it cannot constitutionally delegate such powers to a territorial government organized by it under the constitution. 4. The legal condition of a slave in the state of Missouri is not affected by the temporary sojourn of such slave in any other state, but on his return his condition still depends on the laws of Missouri. As the plaintiff was not a citizen of Missouri, and therefore could not sue in the courts of the United States, and the suit must be dismissed for want of jurisdiction.




Illinois State Register


[1] Illinois State Register. Springfield, Ill. 12 March, 1857. See also the Dred Scott Decision in this archive. 

[2] This editorial is published days after the ending of Franklin Pierce’s term and the beginning of James Buchanan’s term as President of the United States. 

[3] See The Missouri Compromise in this archive. 

[4] The Northwest Ordinance was adopted on July 13, 1787. It charted a government and bill of rights for the Northwest Territory, and provided a process for admitting new states into the Union. 

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