“The Dred Scott Decision” (from Carl Crent Swisher, American Constitutional Development (Houghton Mifflin Company: Boston), 1943, pp. 244-251 and Frederik Douglass’  Speech on the Dred Scott Decision (p. Dewey: Rochester, New York), 1857, pp. 31-35, 45):

Chief Justice Taney was quoted by Professor Swisher who summarized his decision as follows: “negroes were considered as asubordinate and inferior class of beings, who, ‘whether emancipated or not, yet remained subject to their authority, and had no rights or privileges but such as those who held the power and the government might choose to grant them.’  he stated that it was not the province of the supreme court to decide upon the justice or injustice, the policy or impolicy, of these laws. … Negroes had been deemed so far inferior, he said, ‘that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.’

Frederick Douglass’ response to the U.S. Supreme court decision was indicated to have been the following:

“Such a decision cannot stand, God will be true though every man be a liar.  We can appeal from this hell-black judgment of the Supreme Court, to the common sense and common humanity.  We can appeal from man to God.  If there is no justice on earth, there is yet justice in heaven.  You may close your Supreme Court against the black man’s cry for justice, but you cannot, thank God, close against him the ear of a sympathising world, nor shut up the court of heaven.  All that is merciful and just, on earth and in heaven, will execrate and despise this edict of Taney. … In conclusion, let me say, all i ask of the American people is, that they live up to the constitution, adopt its principles, imbibe its spirit, and enforce its provisions.  When this is done, the wounds of my bleeding people will be healed, the chain will no longer rust on their ankles, their backs will no longer be torn by the bloody lash, and liberty, the glorious birthright of our common humanity, will become the inheritance of all the inhabitants of this highly favored country.”


About Harold L Carter

Bachelor of Science, Columbia University Masters degree, Ohio State University Undergraduate National Officer, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Eastern Asst Vice President, when a student at Columbia University Profile Photograph: Mom & Me, when I was a graduate student
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