tv Landmark Cases Landmark Cases - Scott v. Sandford CSPAN May 31, 2021 12:35am-1:37am EDT
wall street 100: an american city grapples with its historical racial trauma. watch live on 8:30 eastern. >> all persons having business before the supreme court give their attention. >> landmark cases. c-span special history series produced with the national constitution center. exploring human stories and constitutional drama behind 12 store decisions. >> number 759. petitioner versus arizona. >> we hear the arguments and roe v. wade.
>> and our famous decisions, the ones that >> let's go through a few cases which illustrate very dramatically and visually what it means to live in a society of 310 million different people who stuck together because they believed in the rule of law. >> c-span and the national constitution center welcome you to the landmark cases. our 12 part history series exploring the people and stories behind some of the supreme court's most famous decisions. tonight you will be learning more about the dred scott case of let me introduce you 1857. about the two guests about the history.
martha jones a professor and , co-editor of a book of the dred scott case. in 1957, the supreme court ruled that blacks, whether free or slaves weren't citizens of the united states. and they limited the spread of slavery to new territories saying congress didn't have the , authority. so i'm going to set the table for us in the mid-1860's. what was the background that gave rise to this case? >> there are a few things that are important for dred scott. not the least of which is the fugitive slave act. 1850 marks a turning point in the nations thinking about slavery. what do i mean? here, the fugitive slave act is
understood to not only to enable southern slave holders to reach into the north, but it is said to nationalize slavery once again and make northerners complicit in the institution, even in those states that abolished slavery. it's probably the most important context. >> the supreme court decides which cases it will hear. why does it decide to take on the case of dred scott? >> again, as she was saying, this is a period of pro-slavery nationalism. this case allows the court to take on one of the most decisive questions of the day. is america going to be a nationally slave state? the court can decide its questions but this is one that was going to be an issue for the court or the legislature or the president going forward and an opportunity to answer one of the more difficult questions.
>> we are trying to find connectivity between the cases. last was marbury versus madison, and this is over 50 years later, and the first time the first time that the court uses the judicial review process, is that correct? >> that is correct. recognizing that was a big step. it took 50 years for the court to do it again. notice how the court does it within the most dramatic fashion. what really sets dred scott apart is the fact that it is the ultimate anti-presidential case. it is what you don't want to do. a cautionary tale. for the court to step in and exercise judicial review in this particular way in striking down the compromise in this climate, it was a bad political decision. >> is it correct to say that, it even inside the supreme court
the dred scott decision is one of the worst? >> absolutely. you can talk to scholars and most will agree this was probably the most infamous supreme court decision. >> critics say this was a court -- an instance of the court overreaching and one, it doesn't have the capacity to resolve and in doing so, really damaging the court's reputation for years to come. there are consequences on the nation on the issue of slavery, but there are consequences on the court going forward. >> we are going to hear a lot of names during the next 90 minutes, among them, a couple of the most important are dred scott and hariot scott who were they? >> dred scott was a slave to the blow family in the hampton roads family.
they moved to alabama to become farmers to buy cotton plantations and doesn't work out well. he moved to st. louis missouri, in 1830. they move them to missouri and opened up a boarding house. the next year, elizabeth taylor died. in the following year, blow passes as well. before he does, he make -- makes arrangements to sell dred to dr. emerson and the doctor connects him. >> we would get a chance to get in more detail and why they became the crux of this case and i will ask you briefly, and we will spend more time on it later, who was rodger taney? >> and taney is a former slave holder, a marylander, statesman and held public office in the state of maryland. he was attorney general for the
state of maryland and attorney general for the united states and by the 1830's, he becomes chief justice of the united states supreme court. he is a colonizationist and someone who advocates that a former slave cannot live peacebly in the united states and should be removed voluntarily to places like liberia. he is a catholic living in the archdiocese of maryland and i think most important thinking about dred scott, he stopped for many years about the question of free black citizenship, even before we get to 1857, it has beenal question on his mind since the 1820's and 1830's when as attorney general, he had begun to work out his theory about black citizenship, and we know his conclusion that black people cannot be citizens of the united states.
>> but give some background to tell it's a bit more about the united states. >> the total population in the 1960's was 31 million plus people and there were about half a million free blacks in the united states. and today, the free blacks live in a certain part of the country? >> free blacks, there were free blacks in the south and the north. a lot of times after emancipation, if a slave was emancipated, they would leave the jurisdiction, but they had family that kept them in the same place where they were slaves. it was not uncommon to find free blacks in the south and the north. >> in urban centers like st. louis, like baltimore, we have across the country we have the
increasingly growing population of free african-americans. taney has the largest population in the country, 25,000 people. that helps us to begin to understand his touchstone for thinking about the problems that are in dred scott. >> and the decision they would make would affect the free states as well. >> absolutely. these are men and women, and boys and girls who have been free who have been themselves claiming the status of citizens throughout the early decades of 19th century which makes it a terrible blow. >> they were not only claiming to be citizens, they voted for ratification of the constitution. it comes as quite a blow. >> the heart of it was the fact that with his master, he
traveled into territories that had been declared free in the united states. we will learn a little more about that time in his life. her cameras went on location to fort snelling, the site that is located outside of st. paul, minnesota and this is where dred scott lived in free territory and married. let's watch. >> during the timeframe of the scotts being here, you can imagine, the soldiers drilling and muskets firing. i like to envision harriet was standing outside of the store over here. maybe dred was walking over here and saw her. maybe wanted to introduce himself to her. the thing i like about that is we continue to put them and other enslaved people as people rather than objects. that had a ceremony that was
officiated by lawrence tolliver who was also the indian agent here. the fact that dred and harriet's marriage, was officiated, that is rare, it makes this place significant in that regard. dred and harriet were enslaved people here on land where slavery wasn't legally recognized and that was one of the pieces of information that they used as the basis of their court case when they sued for their freedom in st. louis. this is the place that we speak about. we refitted and outfitted the room. in accordance to what we believed it would have looked like. this room is actually their living quarters and it is interesting because their living quarters are located directly under emerson space. so the master, his space is right above them.
all the noise of what is happening upstairs, they could here it. we understand dred to be the personal valet or man servant, so he was the one who would tend to emerson's needs. maybe to shave him, or take care of a horse or run errands, or representing him in some sort of way. various types of duties that we find that he was possibly doing. harriet, anything from cooking, sewing the laundry. the whole gamut of all of that is what you find harriet doing as well. >> this was about 1836 or so and the scotts were living in this area. what is significant to know about that part of the world? >> when we talk about that period, you talk about a period
in which slavery still exists and people have a presumption of slavery. that hasn't changed. when they meet each other, they are both slaves to their masters. if they fall in love, they get married, there is an ambiguity there because they recognize they are enslaved, and yet, they are carrying on as if they are free. it is the time of almost transition. not quite transition. as martha said earlier, the fugitive slave act of 1850 is really the point of which you saw sectional tension begin to rise. 1830 is sort of the beginning of that crescendo. >> was this unusual for the time to agree to perform a marriage ceremony between them? >> i don't think so. marriage cuts two ways. on the one hand, it is the
affirmation of two individuals, the beginning of a life together, the making of a family, children, they know their story and it cuts two ways because marriage is a mechanism of social control. perhaps, a slave is less inclined, for example, to run away if he or she is connected to a family unit and tied to other people. it is not a marriage that has legal weight, which is to say these two cannot claim ownership of their children, they cannot inherent from one another or enjoy the privileges of marriage and they develop a bond that is deep and lasts for decades. >> dred scott, we left the story with emerson and he was in the military and traveled a lot
which is one of the reasons that dred scott traveled a lot. dred scott had many masters, would that have been common? >> that was less uncommon. he was a body man and a personal servant and those relationships tend to be more enduring. i think it would be unusual to see him hired out as he was hired out. the relationship was strong between him and dr. emerson. their first child was named after eliza, the doctor's wife. dred scott was living a very different kind of life with dr. emerson. >> somewhere along the way, it's -- dred scott offered to buy his freedom from dr. emerson. where would a slave have gotten the means to do that? >> that is a great question.
by 1840 six, this household is settled back in st. louis. legal knowledge between many enslaved people is circulating. many slaves are producing their -- purchasing their own freedom with freedom suits. they learn about how to challenge it within their own circumstances. at the same time, there is no formal mechanism for self purchase in a jurisdiction like missouri. to buy one's freedom requires the consent and accord with one's owner. emerson declined. >> where were they gotten the information about filing the lawsuit and the money to do such a thing ? >> it's an interesting thing. freedom suits were not that uncommon. the antislavery bar, the lawyers
that were litigating these cases, they were nonideological cases in many instances. they were doing litigation, almost like criminal defense work or public interest work today. the kind of work lawyers do, that not everybody does, that is part of the litigation experience. as martha was saying, people are relatively sophisticated in missouri on the slavery question. that everybody is in support of slavery. air having real conversations about what opportunities these people have to be free. harriet received support from her reverend from her church who is known to give information about how to file the lawsuit. >> so donna on twitter said, did
his journey to educate him along the way? do you think he had the opportunity to talk about people in different parts of the united states and the territory? >> i think yes. i think that begins at fort snelling when they are alone, that is to say not in the company of the emersons. they are hired out to another household at fort snelling and while they labor and their wages go to the emersons, they enjoy an economy that gives them the opportunity to speak to people. on the one hand, fort snelling is in minnesota, near st. paul and terribly remote for people like harriet and dred, but on the other hand, it is an
extraordinary crossroads where merchants, and native people are trading stories, trading information, and i wouldn't be surprised if that's where their legal education begins. >> dred scott takes us to what court? >> missouri state court. he originally files with the state court, and it's a fairly typical cause of action. there are two elements to it. he claims, number one, that he is free and second, that he is being falsely imprisoned. there is an assault component that you claim you are being threatened and imprisonment and being held against your will. that was the typical format. it's the kind of case that was almost boiler plate.
and you would go to court and plea it out under the old writ system different than that we would have today. the first case in zone a technicality, which i thought was really interesting. but it obviously didn't doom his case because he was able to file. >> next, by video, we take you to the courthouse where they first fought the legal address. >> we welcome you to the same day -- to the st. louis old courthouse. the place where harriet and dred scott came to find a way through the legal system. we are in one of the grander courtrooms that survived in st. louis' old courthouse. we know in both of the dred scott trials, the same judge presided. he was the judge of the circuit court of st. louis at the time and was being known as being somewhat favorable to these
cases of enslaved persons who were suing in the courts to gain their freedom. it was a jury of 12 men and all of these men would have been white. some of them may have been and probably were slave owners. so we have to think when the scotts came here in 1850 for a second trial and when the jury, having listened to the evidence decided that they should be set free, that the evidence must have been very persuasive. there was one of actually a little over 300 cases that were heard in the st. louis courts about this same matter of enslaved persons trying to become free by petitioning the legal system. when the slaves came into the court and we know they were
allowed to come into the court, by law, and sometimes people ask is that question, but this side of the room is where the prosecution would sit and this is where the slaves would have been. we are looking at the original petition that dred and harriet scott made to the court. dred and harriet had separate petitions and they were put to go into one case that bore his name. and, an interesting thing in the way the law was written at the time, it specified some sort of abuse may have taken place and it was a thing where they may have been abused and enslaved by their owner. at the bottom were their signatures are marked. neither dred nor harriet could read or write. so the person who drafted the petition would write their name
and put his mark and then dred would put his cross or x in that space and the same with harriet. you can see they did the same thing over here with her mark. >> one of the places, if you are the road and in st. louis, you can visit to learn more about the dred scott case. i want to show you a timeline of the legal challenge in the state of missouri. first, 1846 is when it was in the county court. that is what we just saw. it was retried in 1850 in the same courtroom. then it went onto the missouri supreme court in 1852, and then finally 1854, it moved to the federal courts in st. louis area for both of you, that set a question decided by the lower courts. what were the important aspects of the case for people to
understand? >> the first part i would emphasize is the the lower court cases. the first trial, where there is a technicality. we need to understand the technicality. there are three different lawsuits. one for dred, one for harriet and one for the other two kids. the claim that dred made was that he was being falsely testified and held against his will. mr. russell testifies, yes, i hired dred from mr. emerson for a set amount of money. on examination, it was revealed, it wasn't him but his wife. it was his wife, mrs. russell hadn't testified at trial. mr. russell's testimony was struck as hear say. there was no evidence that he was treated as a slave. so the case was dismissed.
but the judge was sympathetic. the judge was sympathetic, so there was a retrial. at retrial, mr. emerson testified he paid the money. mrs. russell testified that she made the arrangements and dred scott was able to prevail at the state court level. >> why did it go on to the missouri supreme court? >> that takes us back to a fundamental question why 1846. what is happening that the scotts waited to bring this freedom suit and i think there is a confluence of things. but for me, the most powerful thing is those girls. they had two young daughters. something changes and throughout
the litigation, the scotts keep the girls in hiding. they are prepared if necessary to defy a court order rather than to see them enslaved or at risk of being sold away. they are terribly vulnerable. vulnerable being separated from their parents and sexual assault. there is something going on. what happens is that they win the second trial. the jury of white men in st. louis white men declare them as free men. it is extraordinary, but not unexpected. this sort of case has been heard, as chris said, hundreds of times before. generally, the rule of law in missouri is that once an enslaved person has lived on free soil, that he or she becomes a free person, even when they return to the slave state of missouri.
>> so that there? >> it's a great lesson in why people wait to bring freedom suits. they are not a sure thing. they never are. the changing politics of missouri, a high court that is increasingly interested in closing the door to these sorts of freedom suits. what we get, at the high court in missouri, a split decision. on the one hand, the majority of two says, "no, we are not obligated as the state of missouri to honor the loss of what was the wisconsin territory or the state of illinois where the scotts had been on free soil." we're not obligated to extend that courtesy and hour laws dictate they should be
re-enslaved. there is a lone dissenter, justice gamble, who says, not so fast. we have decades of precedent here and i argue that we should follow precedent. they should be free. but he doesn't carry the day. >> his point was, as clear as a bell. he said circumstances may have changed but our principles shouldn't. >> so we left it in 1854, decided by the st. louis federal court. then in 1856, it was argued once again, a second argument in the same year, 1850 seven the decision was handed down, and also 1857, dred and harriet scott were freed. we will tell that story later on. he died in 1858. so ultimately from the first petition in the st. louis county court until the supreme court
heard his case, it was 11 years. is that typical today if you go to the supreme court? >> there are cases that do go on for a decade today. better freedom suit certainly shouldn't have taken that long. the fact that it was contested so thoroughly, mean, you have to realize, by the time this case gets decided, dred scott is an old man. he is, as far as his value of a slave, he is diminished value, he is sick, and yet, they are continuing to fight. >> and his daughters. >> and his daughters. >> one of the keys to this story, about the daughters. not only do have they have a value as property to their parents, they are precious. and when we try to understand
the longevity, not only how long the suit takes but the tenaciousness to pursue it out of the state courts and into federal courts and we appreciate how keenly the scots felt the stakes were. >> we moved to where roger, the chief justice of the supreme court appointed by by andrew jackson. and we are going to learn more about his background and what he brought to this case and what the makeup of his court was like. we went to annapolis to learn more about taney's early career. >> it is through these doors that taney would have walked when he served on the supreme court. he served one term as a federalists.
he came back in 1816 and served a term in the maryland senate and it was inside this room where the maryland senate met. in the mid-19 century, 1816, the members of congress would sit in an arc of desks facing the president of congress who would have been seated on the president's desk. the business of the senate, it would have been looking out for land interests in the county and this is the period within 10 years after the war of 1812, so there was still a lot of building of american government at that time. foundational work was underway in the senate and across the hall and house of delegates. while he was serving here, he was operating his law practice in frederick. he was also serving on the board of directors in the bank of frederick which was incorporated at that time. after leaving the maryland senate, he came back to service
in the state in 1827 as attorney general and it was from that post that he left in 1831 to begin serving in the federal government. >> martha jones, you started us on the story of roger tony. what else do we know about this man about how he ran this court and wrote the decision in this case? >> one of the interesting facts about being a supreme court justice in this period is that you are not excused from serving on trial courts as well. taney rides circuit, as we say, and goes back to baltimore, regularly, to sit on trials in that federal district court. and so he is on the one hand, engulfed in this world of baltimore. he is a patron to free
african-americans in that city and he is in washington thinking on a very different scale about the status of slavery and the standing of african-americans going forward. to understand taney, you have to understand the world. he is in some ways, not quite a recluse, but he is somewhat reserved. he takes his seat on the bench very seriously. he does not want to appear to be tainted by popular opinion or politics. but he continues to be an active member of the bar in baltimore, to preside over proceedings there in his local catholic church. he is a figurehead, much sought-after. he is in mashed -- enmeshed in
this social world, not simply in an ivory tower in washington. ms. swain: here is an interesting biographical fact about roger taney. in 1818, he freed his own slaves. prof. bracey: he did, before he became a judge. but there is something else about roger taney. while he was a bit of a recluse, he was not afraid to stake out in ideological position. there was a case decided in 1842, involving a slave clause. a slave that escaped to pennsylvania. pennsylvania refused to turn the slave back over to the catchers who had gone to pursue the slave. the supreme court decided to question how to interpret it, and what it would impose on the state of pennsylvania, the quaker state, in terms of supporting slavery and the return of the slave to its master. taney did not write the majority opinion of the court. that was done by the chief
justice. the court said, in effect, we have to return the slave as part of our constitutional obligation. we will be forced by the slave to assist in returning the slave. taney went further in the concurrence, arguing it will be much more substantial, that they have an obligation to have their local authorities deputized by federal marshals, in the delivering up of slaves. in other words, he was really pushing a proslavery, nationalist position, years before dred scott him around. but you could see it coming. ms. swain: i will take two calls, and she the makeup of taney's court, and how the nine -- five of the nine. the northerners, john mclain of ohio, samuel nelson of new york, robert geyer of pennsylvania and benjamin curtis of
massachusetts. so going into this, it was logically a 5-4 decision. the odds were stacked against dred scott. prof. bracey: absolutely, it was worse than that, you had 7-9 who are democrats. then the five southerners that you see there, are also the five that descend from slave owning families. really, you have serious author -- odds against dred scott. ms. swain: and that was ultimately the bow, the two -- the vote on the case, the two northerners were whigs who voted with dred scott. that's john maclean and benjamin curtis. we have video of the old supreme court chamber in the u.s. capital which is where the case was argued. we will show you that. and we set the stage for the case being heard. what was alike the first time
around? prof. jones: i think that in some sense, it is a case that his much-anticipated by the time it reaches the court. taney himself is eager to take on these questions, and dred scott provides him with his only opportunity in this critical period not only to impact the jurisprudence, but in effect, to have a role in the political questions that are set to entrench the nations. the court is poised, would you agree chris? prof. bracey: i do. and you have roswell, who was dred scott's lawyer. and the superstar montgomery blair to argue before the supreme court. representing the sanford's, you have grier and liberty johnson and also from maryland. and you have a running mate with him. you have the makings of an interesting case that is going to be argued before the court.
ms. swain: how did dred scott find these superstar attorneys to represent him? prof. bracey: you have the family providing support to him. ms. swain: the original owners. the descendents, the children of peter and elizabeth taylor blow are now abolitionists. charlotte has married and editor of an abolitionist newspaper. one of the sons becomes a u.s. congressman, the other daughter marries a u.s. senator. they get together and provide the financial security to support the litigation. another connection i have not fully validated, montgomery blair has a brother in missouri. frank blair is a conservative unionist. it is possible that there is some connection there, as well, which would explain why montgomery blair gets involved. and as you know, benjamin
curtis' brother joins the litigation team on behalf of dred scott for the second round of oral arguments to argue the validity of the missouri compromise. ms. swain: and who is benjamin curtis? ms. swain: the brother of a sitting jurist argued before the court. could you do that today, or would there be a conflict? prof. bracey: i think there were be a conflict of interest today. ms. swain: was he paid? professor jones: blair was not, and neither is curtis. but, by the time we are approaching the u.s. supreme court, these are men who are taking this case because the reputation called for it. i think it would be a mistake to
characterize them as hired guns. there is a great deal of press -- prestige in arguing these cases. blair never meets the family. he takes the case in washington and argues it there. ms. swain: was it dred scott in the courtroom when this was argued? prof. jones: the scotts are in st. louis, in the formal custody of the court, the sheriff, and they are hired out and laboring, and their daughters are in hiding. >> who was sandford, and how did he get attached to the case? >> at this point, dr. emerson is deceased. ms. is emerson is tiring of the case -- tiring of litigation, and transfers title. the record is very clear, he that she -- very clear that she
transfers title. john sanford is in new york. he is a businessman. but he has ties to st. louis. one of those ties, was by marriage. his earlier wife was now deceased, and the daughter, the largest slaveowner in the city of st. louis. and that's one of the reasons that might explain why the litigation persisted under his name for so long because he was protecting his family's business interests as well as his own by ensuring the longevity of slavery. ms. swain: we will see when we have a picture of sandford, it is spelled differently on screen. that is the correct spelling of his name. it was recorded incorrectly and throughout history and the supreme court record. just a little historical side note. who argued for sandford?
prof. bracey: we have johnson, who was going to bring an extraordinary reputation with him. he is an official, a friend, and intellectual ally to roger taney. and they were going to argue many the points that we see, made by taney in his final opinion. i would just point out that they know full well, his views are not a secret at this time. i think they see the chief justice, the types of arguments they know he is receptive to. it is not the first time they would offer up the view that no black person can be a citizen.
>> the first aspect was, was the plea and abatement subject to appellate review? put that in terms the public can understand. prof. bracey: whether or not this is an appealable issue. >> here, the specific question is, whether for the purposes of diversity jurisdiction in a federal court, diversity being a circumstance in which a citizen of one state sues a citizen of another state, whether they would have access to those courts. the question is whether or not the scotts are citizens of this -- of the state of missouri. >> question number three, did congress have the power to enact the missouri compromise?
this gets down to the question of judicial review. >> congress has authority to regulate in the territories. that much is clear. the question is, does the sort of regulation congress is empowered to do it include regulation of property, property such as slaves. that is where the issue comes up, because you have the right to own property, and it is unclear if congress can abrogate that right specifically to slavery and not to other property as well. >> at one point, the court was going to issue a narrower decision. why did they decide to take this big one that would have national consequences? >> part of it had to do with the fact that you had two justices announced they were going to dissent. they were not only going to declare that dred scott should be free, they were going to say that in their view, the missouri compromise was constitutional,
even though there was some doubt whether it was constitutional. >> and they announced this before the case was heard? >> before it was decided. which you can imagine, justices talking about how they are going to rule in a case, to said -- two said we are going to come out strong that the missouri compromise was valid. >> is this the reason why the case was reheard? >> the other thing going on behind the scenes is that president buchanan was reaching out -- >> president-elect buchanan at this point. >> reaching out and wanting to know what the outcome is going to be. and he is leaning on these justices. this today would be out of bounds. probably was even out of bounds in the 19th century.
but helps us understand the political pressure going on behind the scenes. >> the fourth was, did the courts allow scotts reversion to slavery? number two and number three were the most significant to the case. the reaction was described as explosive on both sides of this. soon thereafter, the famous lincoln douglas campaign for senate in illinois. almost the entire lincoln douglas debates were argued over the dred scott case. i'll have you tell the story over the rise of the republican party. >> i do want to say something that happened during the course of those debates that was really important. lincoln is now in the position to say something that is new in
public discourse on the slavery question, and that is that slavery is evil. that gives him a new standing. he argued with douglas on this point. he says, just because i don't want a woman to be my slave doesn't mean that i also want her to be my wife. she can be left alone. he is beginning to change the discourse. he is suggesting that slavery is morally evil, but also hedging on the citizenship question. he is suggesting that maybe conservative unions are right, that emancipation doesn't necessarily mean equal citizenship. host: what about dred and harriet scott? they lost their case. what happened to them next? martha: it ends with them ultimately winning their freedom, not a way of the court but by way of their long-standing relationship with the blow family.
ultimately, emerson's family will feed their property interest in the scotts back to the blows. they will take their compensation for giving up the property interest. the family will settle back into life as free people in the city of st. louis. dred becomes a minor celebrity. he resisted enticements. someone at him to go on the speaker circuit. the case was that important. he had become a household name in many ways. someone who might be very useful for the ongoing anti-slavery work in the united states, but they resist that. he accepted an appointment as a doorman in a hotel in st. louis.
harriet herself goes back to the work she has always done but this time she is able to work and control her own wages and they continue to raise their girls. they are sought-after from time to time by curious journalists. we are grateful to some of them because of the photographs that we have of the scotts result from a curious and persistent journalist who bring them to a photo studio to have their portraits taken. for me, one of the most poignant encounters with harriet scott and a journalist comes as dred himself is ailing. he will die within 18 months of this decision. she tells the reporter, just leave the old man alone.
just leave them at peace. part of what we want is to be out of the limelight, to be away from the strife and to live as a private family. host: so, if you go to the part of the country to learn more about this, you will find out that the great great granddaughter of dred scott is involved in preserving their history. you are going to meet her next. >> we are standing at calvary cemetery at dred scott's final resting place. he was originally buried at the corner of grand and laclede. he was buried there in 1858. taylor blow, who frayed hem, -- who freed him, decided that he did not want him to stay unmarked and unknown. he moved him here and he actually bought three plots so that he could be properly buried, properly meaning that a black person could not be buried next to a white person. so the two plots next to him guaranteed that.
his wife died 18 years later and she is not buried here. she is buried in greenwood cemetery. greenwood was only two years old when harriet died in 1876. a brand-new cemetery, primarily for african-americans, and it was an honor for her to be there. that is where she resides at this time. prior to knowing where she was buried, this was placed here. this honors her as a co-plaintiff of the dred scott decision, a mother, and a patriot. host: those of the closing days and the memorial of the scotts. what happened to roger taney? you will listen to a clip of the president of the national constitution center talking about the rest of justice taney's life. >> roger taney is a constitutional tragedy. he is viewed as being moderate
when it came to the balance between state and federal power and was well thought of until dred scott. as justice scalia said, the drama of how dred scott tarnished his reputation -- justice scalia invokes a portrait in the harvard library that shows him with sad eyes. he seems to be reflecting on the great tragedy of this decision, showing us how important this case was. by the end of his career, he was reduced to wandering the streets of washington, personally handing out copies of the decision, checking lincoln's power to suspend the right of habeas corpus. he had printed them himself. host: one other thing to talk about was roger taney and his memory is that today, he continues to be controversial. if you go to the statehouse in annapolis, there is a statue of him at the entrance to the statehouse. there is a debate going on about whether or not that should be moved or removed. we found over the weekend from
frederick, maryland, headline that the statue that they have outside city hall over the weekend was vandalized with red paint. what are your thoughts about this long legacy of roger taney and how he is viewed in american society? martha: this takes us back to dred scott because it is not only in the 21st century that his memory is controversial. charles sumner, after roger taney's death in 1864, commits himself to defeating any attempts to appropriate funding that would provide for the bust of roger taney to be placed in the u.s. supreme court. sumner fights those attempts time and again in congress. today, these questions are of course cloaked in 21st century
terms, a movement called black lives matter, controversy over the flying of the confederate flag in the united states, and taney's likeness is once again said by some to symbolize or glorify a past that should not be honored in this public way. at this statehouse in maryland, we have dueling monuments, if you will, because in 1996, we get thurgood marshall. and so now, the two of marilyn's -- maryland's great supreme court justices are side-by-side, but clearly somebody over the weekend in frederick had a different idea about how to publicly enact their critique.
host: what should his legacy be? christopher: he doesn't have a choice in the matter. after dred scott, he has tied himself to this pro-slavery nationalist movement so tightly, that movement dies with the confederacy and so these are forever linked. roger taney engaged in fairly dishonest representations of history at the highest levels of government, at the highest level of the court. that cannot be undone. he has ruined to the reputation of the supreme court during that period by signaling the audacity that he and the rest of the justice's could decide the most volatile political question in a way and end up in the wrong side of history. i have a portrait similar to the one that you showed earlier in my office. it is one that i show my students every time that i teach the dred scott decision mainly
because it does demonstrate just how much of the weight it weighed on this man. >> did the decision produce a war? >> as martha said earlier, sometimes that can be overstated. we know that the justice forcefully rejected the idea of black citizenship. he did that unapologetically. that enraged the supporters of free blacks, the secessionists were emboldened by this decision. the ones that wanted to succeed wanted to push even farther on nationalizing slavery were emboldened by the decision, it raised in the temperature of sectional politics. he created the preconditions necessary to be able to establish black citizenship, the 14th amendment, the civil rights
act of 1866. so, did it bring about a civil war? no, there were many other contributing factors but it certainly elevated the temperature and was a contributing factor and gave us the preconditions for equal citizenship. >> what should people think about this case, after spending 90 minutes listening to it, summarize the important points to take away. martha: there are two things to take away. we don't have to look backward to appreciate what a failure dred scott was. taney himself knew this. he pens what was called the secret opinion, he writes his second dred scott decision, hoping that another case will, -- will come, and that he can clarify his position and that he can make good. the case might not have given us the civil war, but it required a constitutional revolution. it set in place this bar against free black citizenship that had to be resolved.
it was the civil war that gives us the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments, but whatever the course of history might have been, that revolution was necessary for the nation to go forward. host: that is it. thank you for being here. thank you for your questions. we will be back next week for the third in our landmark cases. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2021] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] ♪
i yield the floor. mr. lankford: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. lankford: mr. president, senator inhofe and i and this body has just passed by voice vote a resolution recognizing the 100th anniversary of the 1921 tulsa race massacre. it is a significant recognition to not only recognize what happened in 1921 but also to recognize the black towns that still remain in oklahoma. it is an interesting history we have in oklahoma and i encourage folks to be able to find out more about us a as state. in the late 1800's, early 1900's, black individuals and fali
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