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tv   Lectures in History Lincoln Slavery the Dred Scott Case  CSPAN  July 7, 2021 11:30am-12:51pm EDT

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kennedy's three-month inauguration, and cast a showdown with the cuban administration known as the cuban missile crisis. tonight, we will take a look back at the failed invasion and the consequences. ♪♪ next, on lectures in history, gettysburg college
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professor will give a lecture on lincoln, slavery and the dred scott decision. his class is about 50 minutes. welcome once again to civil war era studies 205, the introduction to the american civil war era. we are now in the third week in this course, and my, what ground we have covered thus far. well, we have more to cover today, because we are coming up to the 1850s now, and talking about the crises of the 1850s. it really began with the compromise of 1850 that move into the kansas/nebraska act of 1854 and we are going to see still more earthquakes occurring, but as we do this, we have a character that we have to meet who is going to play a central role in the entire course, and this is abraham lincoln. we touched very briefly in our
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last session by way of introduction of lincoln, and just to go through some of the details once again, abraham lincoln is born in 1809, born on the 12th of february. his parents were thomas and nancy hanks lincoln. and lincoln, himself, was born in hodginville, kentucky in a log cabin and yes, quite literally. he does not stay in kentucky, because that 1818 his parents uproot from kentucky and move northwards across the ohio river into southern indiana. and that is where lincoln grows up, and alas, that is also where lincoln's mother dies. lincoln's father goes back to kentucky, remarries and lincoln now has a stepmother sarah bush johnston. and now in what is almost an inversion of the old hansel and
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gretel wicked stepmother is the inversion because sarah johnston becomes his mother as fully as a mother can be. she and her stepson are copasetic, and something that cannot be said about lincoln and his father thomas where the relationship was in fact a good deal more tense. lincoln would once describe his father as being the sort of man who could sort of bungling sign his own name, and this is not a compliment. lincoln and his father are two very, very different quantities, and so different that when thomas lincoln once again picks up the family, and moves westward across the wabash river to illinois, at that point, young abraham having turned 21
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decides he is going to strike out on his own, and the own he strikes out upon has very little in common with the life of thomas lincoln. thomas lincoln was content to be a farmer. a jacksonianever there was a jacksonian, but young lincoln has other dreams. he has no use for the agrarian life, and he goes into some short-lived business in new salem, and not that it succeeds or prospers, but he keeps trying at it, until finally, he gets himself elected to the illinois state legislature in 1834, and he is going to serve four terms in the illinois state legislature. he is a whig. and one almost wants to say that he is a whig's whig. because his entire attitude in contrast with the father and in contrast with the jeffersonian
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agrarianism and in contrast with andrew jackson, but he embraces the entire whig ethos of transformation of henry clay's american system, and henry clay is going to be for lincoln what he calls bow ideal of a statesman and he is much more suspicious in what he has to say about andrew jackson and it is not entirely a matter of applause. the words that we talked about last time in which jackson is talking about the prudence beginner of the world, and saves a while, and the tools and land for himself, and then labors on his own account for a while, and at length hires a new beginner to help him and this, say the advocates, it is free labor, and this is the system, and that is the whiggish system of self-transformation, and
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self-improvement, and free labor, and the just and the generous, and the prosperous system that opens the way for all, and hope to all and energy and progress and improvement of condition to all. if any continue through life in the condition of the hired laborer, it is not the fault of the system, but because of either a dependent nature which prefers it, or in providence, folly or singular misfortune, there is, and this is lincoln affirming not only the principles of free labor and self-transformation, but this is also the way in which lincoln draws the contrast with slavery, and there is no permanent class of hired laborers among us, or at least there isn't in the north. now, remember, james henry hadn't defending slavery on the grounds that every society requires a mud sill class to
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perform all of the mud sill duties, and wasn't it hammond who said that it was the genius of the south that it had discovered a specific group of people who would perform those mud sill duties and nothing but for the entirety of their lives which is of course in this case is black slaves. by contrast, lincoln says, there is no permanent class of hired laborers among us. there is no mud sill class. 25 years ago, i was a hired laborer. i was one of those mud sills. but the hired laborer of yesterday labors on his own account today, and hires others to labor for him tomorrow. advancement, improvement of condition is the order of things in a society of equals. of course, improvement and advancement in condition are exactly the things that a slave cannot aspire to.
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and james henry hammond would be disturbed to find a mud sill class aspiring to. people are surprised when they see this image. it is actually the first photograph of abraham lincoln, and now it does not quite look like the fellow on the $5 bill. the photograph is a dogariatype taken in 1846, and in, this lincoln does not look like somebody fresh off of his father's farm. that is because by 1846, he wasn't. when he goes up to the legislature in 1834, he also carries with him that desire for advancement and the way to advancement for lincoln is to study law. and so, he becomes a lawyer
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apprenticing himself more or less as a junior partner to a prominent kentucky lawyer in springfield, illinois, named john todd stewart, whom he had met in the militia service in the black hawk war where lincoln and stewart met. lincoln works as a junior partner for john todd stewart, but eventually what he wants to do is to be on his own. and he achieves that in 1844, taking along with him as a junior partner of his own william henry herndom who is over the years to become, become something of the boswell to lincoln's johnson. lincoln spends a great deal of his professional time as a lawyer practicing on the 8th
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judicial circuit which is mostly central illinois, and at the apex, it is 13 counties in central illinois including the capital springfield, where lincoln lives. his law practice is overwhelmingly civil law. only 5% of lincoln's cases touched on criminal matters. he is mostly a civil lawyer. practicing civil law. he does wills and estates, trespass and asumpset and collections. in fact, he does a lot of collections, and abraham lincoln was a repo man. but in fact, his caseload is really not the caseload of a specialist. he is providing legal services for all comers, and so it is a
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broadly-based practice and keeps him busy. in the busiest year in 1853, lincoln has over 300 cases for which he is responsible. that is a lot. he is not only a civil lawyer, but he is a trial lawyer. he is not one of the lawyers who sits in a office and moves the papers from the inbox to the out box. he is a trial lawyer. he is specializing in working in front of juries and convincing juries, and on the old 8th judicial circuit, that was a challenge. and for two reasons. in those days, juries had a whole lot more in the way of discretion for how law was decided than they do for instance today. today, judges, legislatures, statutes lay out what the law is, and the juries measure
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whether a case measures up to it, but in lincoln's day, they had discretion of the buckings given by judges or interpretitu statutes for lincoln before the jury, and so he not only had to make a case, but he had to also make a theory behind the case for the benefit of the jury that he was talking to. and the other thing about the juries is that these are not carefully selected or carefully screened juries and these little county courthouses through central illinois, a jury could as often as not be selected from whomever the spectators were standing at the back of the courtroom, and that meant that lincoln had to learn how to communicate at the clearest and most basic level, and he had to do it swiftly and convincingly or he would be out of business.
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on the other hand, as daunting as that could be, as a trial lawyer, this is extremely good training for someone who is later on politically speaking has to be someone who is going to specialize in convincing people of big arguments and so a lot of what makes lincoln such a great speaker and great writer and with a tremendous capacity to convince people very logical, a lot of it grows out of his experience as a trial lawyer on the 8th judicial circuit, and by all measurements, he is successful as a trial lawyer. he enjoys the work of a trial lawyer, and he benefits from it quite readily. so that by the 1850s, he has accumulated a fairly healthy nest egg. he has a house of his own in springfield, illinois.
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he has sometimes taken in fees as high as $5,000 for fees in a particular case, and in those days, $5,000 is a lot of money. a middle-class income in the 1850s would be perhaps what walt whitman estimated $5,000 a year, and lincoln can pull in $5,000 a case. so lincoln is doing very well as a lawyer. he is also doing well not just economically, but he is doing well socially. because in 1842, he marries mary todd. now, if you have noticed that john todd stewart and mary todd lincoln, yes, they are cousins, and that is how mary todd comes to springfield and coming from her home in lexington, kentucky, to visit springfield, and it is there that she meets lincoln.
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now, it has to be said in all candor that meeting lincoln was not always the easiest thing to do, because, all right, let's be frank, the man is homely. he is. i am sorry. it really is true. homely enough with the big ears, and the big nose and the high hollow cheekbones, and although the collar and the stock tie tend to mitigate it, his neck reminded you of a giraffe. the man was 6'4", and most of the height in his legs. if he was sitting in a chair here, he would be about striking you as the same dimensions as the rest of us, but it is when he stood up, hmm. watching lincoln stand up from a chair was like watching a jackknife unfold. he was awkward. he spoke with a peculiar accent
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and high-pitched, twangy, and not very elegant. elegant is the word that you would use for mary todd. most of her todd relatives did not understand what she saw in lincoln, and tried to talk her out of the match, but she did see things that others did not. so they were married in 1842. this is a big social step up for abraham lincoln. because by marrying mary todd, he has effectively married into the first families of the illinois whig party. so, he has moved up dramatically in the economic terms and in social terms. that doesn't mean though that he is always the happiest and the most contentest of people.
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to the contrary. there is a streak of melancholy of depression in lincoln that he called the hypo. it could sometimes cover him in gloom. to meet lincoln is to meet a complex, complicated person. kellyanne? >> do you think that mary todd was a gold digger or just after his money? >> no, because in truth, her family was wealthier than he was. her father, robert s. todd was a prominent merchant in kentucky. they are actually much more well off than lincoln. now, lincoln of course is coming up. but, again, people would wonder, what does she see in this man lincoln. so not enough to be a gold digger argument. she is seeing qualities in him that others at first blush
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don't. most of the time when people first met lincoln what they thought that they were meeting as one illinois acquaintance said was like meeting an intelligent illinois farmer, and that made you underestimate him. he made jokes about his looks, and why wouldn't he, because if he didn't, someone else would, and so he beat them to the punch. and he said once to a photograph who said, "just look natural" and lincoln said, "that is what i am trying to avoid." and saying to a man riding in the forest coming from the other direction a woman on the horse stops and stares at him. very rude thing to do. he says to her, madam, what are you staring at? and she says, well, you are
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about the ugliest man i have ever met. to which he says, well, i can't help that. but she replies, "well, you could stay home." no, he made jokes about his own looks which also induced people to think that here is a simple man. but one of his legal associates leonard sweat made what is i think the most perceptive comment about lincoln, and they said anybody who took abe lincoln with a simple-minded man would soon wake up with his back in a ditch. he used people's underestimation of him to his own advantage. but even success economically and socially is not the most important thing to lincoln. what he wants is success politically. and political success is going
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to mean election to congress. and that is what in 1846 he sets out to do to get himself elected to congress from the 7th congressional district in mid-state illinois, and he is duly elected. he is not at this moment what you would think of as being an apostle of opposition to slavery. years later he would say, i am naturally anti-slavery. if slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong. i cannot remember when i did not so think and feel. and yet simply being opposed to slavery did not turn him into an abolitionist, did not turn him into a william lloyd garrison. in 1837 while still sitting in the state legislature he joins
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with they are whig representative to offer a resolution decrying slavery as bad practice, bad policy and injustice. but he doesn't do more than that. when he goes to washington as a member of congress, he backs a bill to abolish the slave trade in the district of columbia. this is before the compromise of 1850. but the bill goes nowhere, and lincoln doesn't press on it. so he is opposed to slavery. anti-slavery, just not what you might call an activist on the subject. that is until 1854. the reason he is not of an activist on the subject is because before 1854 he is convinced that slavery is a dying system which is on its own
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way out. lincoln believes, first of all, that the founders constructed the united states constitution to be an anti-slavery document. not that the constitution abolished slavery but that the constitution created a system and represented the intentions of founders who believed they had put slavery on the road to extinction. it would happen gradually, painlessly. but it would happen. it would be inevitable. the second thing is that lincoln believes that by confining slavery to the southern states slavery will turn out to be a system which uses up its own oxygen, that the kind of agriculture that slavery represents as tobacco did become
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uneconomical. and the moment it becomes uneconomical then slavery will come to an end. but it will do it on its own. no one needs to behave like garrison and the abolitionists. nobody needs to push hard on the slave states and alienate and anger them. it's simply a process. and we're going to let the process unfold. so he is and i slavery, but he doesn't feel a need to take active measures against slavery, because he believes it's inevitable. it's going to die out on its own. it's a system doomed by its own logic to fade away. that was no longer a tenable notion after the kansas-nebraska
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act. the kansas-nebraska act by opening up the vast stretches of the louisiana purchase to the possibility of legalized slavery through stephen doulgsz's doctrine of popular sovereignty. suddenly that was like a blinding flash of lightning. suddenly slavery was no longer confined to the southern states, no longer going to affixiate on its own. to the contrary, the kansas-nebraska act opened up the possibility that it was going to spread and mutate, like an irresistible virus, that it was going to swallow up the whole of the american west, both the louisiana purchase and the mexican session. and once finished swallowing that up it was going to turn attention back to the free states of the north and legalize
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slavery there. that was why the kansas-nebraska act was such a shock. that is why we get salman chase and the appeal of the independent democrats that's why we get sumner and why we get bleeding kansas. and ling testifies to this. the nebraska bill astounded us. we were thunder struck and stunned. and we reeled and fell into utter confusion. but we rose. each fighting, grasping whatever he could first reach, a skrigt, a pitch fork, chopping axe or butcher's cleaver. well not literally but politically and rhetorically, yes. just as the anthony burns rendition had put aim ohs
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lawrence of in the position of saying one night we went to bed old compromised whigs and wake up the next morning stark arriving mad appear legislationists. well the nebraska bill has something of the same effect on ling. suddenly he wakes up. slavery is not going away on its own, not going peacefully. to the contrary, it's going to turn and strangle the rest of us. that means we have to do something about it. and we have to do something about slavery. and it is this which transforms lincoln into a public opponent and critic of slavery and slavery extension. he goes public for the first time in october of 1854 in a lengthy speech he gives in peera, illinois which in some respects is the greatest speech linkin ever gives.
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there are other speeches of lincolns more eloquent, the get ys burg address of course. but in terms of comprehensive view of the questions of the day, nothing beats the peoria speech. on october 16th, 1854. in this langan addresses the fundamental political issue, which is the repeal of the missouri compromise, which is another way of saying the kansas-nebraska act. because kansas-nebraska did in fact repeal the missouri compromise. the repeal of the missouri compromise is wrong in its direct effect, letting slavery into kansas and nebraska. but the problem here is more than just the technicalities of the kansas-nebraska bill allowing slavery to be legalized
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if people want it in the western territories. after all, stephen douglass's rationale for attaching the popular sovereignty doctrine to the organization of kansas and nebraska really went something like this. look, if we argue about slavery here in washington, d.c., it's going to paralyze congress, paralyze the executive and paralyze the judiciary. the federal government's got the people's business to do, doesn't need to be sitting around all day arguing about slavery. no, get slavery out in the territories. and let the people there decide for themselves. if they want to have slavery, all right, fine. and if they don't want to have slavery, that's fine too. but the goal is, get the question out of washington. let the people out there settle it. in other words, what douglass is saying he really doesn't care whether slavery gets legalized
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or not legalized, so long as it's not having a bad effect on the country as a whole. so long as it's not paralyzing the country politically and economically. in other words, he is indifferent. . it's not a matter to stephen a. douglass, not a matter to the advocates of popular sovereignty whether slavery is right or wrong. it's just annoying. so the get it to a place where it's not going to be annoying, at least not to the rest of the country. but it is exactly this this lincoln hones in on. lincoln is not content merely to criticize kansas-nebraska because of the repeal of the missouri compromise. no, no, there is something much more wrong with the kansas-nebraska bill and the logic of popular sovereignty. and the thing that's wrong is the business of indifference about slavery. that's the real root of the
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trouble. because the only people, the only reason that people are going to buy into kansas-nebraska, the only reason they're going to buy the repeal of the missouri compromise, the only reason they're going to buy the notion of legalizing slavery in the territories, is because they've been persuaded by people like stephen a. douglass to be indifferent on the subject of slavery. it is this declared indifference that's the real problem. that's what leads people to embrace the repeal of the missouri compromise and the kansas-nebraska bill. this declared indifference. but as i must think, covert real zeal for the spread of slavery. oh, yes, douglass will tell you, well i'm just putting the question out there to the voters. lincoln says, yeah, right. in declared indifference but as
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i must think covert real zeal for the spread of slavery, i cannot but hate -- i hate it because of the monstrous injustice of slavery itself. so right away the thing that lincoln is critiquing here. great problem with the kansas-nebraska bill is not that that is simply repeals the missouri compromise. it cult innovates indifference towards a monstrous injustice. i hate it because of the monstrous injustice of slavery itself. and i hate it because it deprives our republic an example of its just influence in the world. what is the united states? the united states is a republic. a republic. an island of republican practice in a sea of monarchies and dictatorships. what kind of an example do we think we're setting as a
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republic if we tolerate slavery? in fact, encourage its growth? what are we say bag the very idea to the idea most precious to all of us and that is the idea of republican government in which all men are created equal and in which the people are sovereign? doesn't that suggest that republicanism is a fraud? how can you talk about the sovereignty of the people and then take a big chunk of the people and say they can never participate in this? how can you do that? doesn't that make republicanism laughable? i mean, at least the monarchs are consistent. give them credit, you know. the king of barataria says, i am the king. you do what i say. you jump when i say and ask how high on the way up. there is no attempt by a king to put a sugar coating around
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monarchy. but here we are as a republic. we're supposed to be enunciating this enlightenment principle of the sovereigntity of the people. what are we doing? contradicting it completely. maybe we should go back to being monarchs and have a king. that would be more consistent. oh, no, it deprives our republican example of just influence in the world, enables the enemies of free institutions with plausibility to taunt us as hypocrites. causes the real friends of freedom to doubt our sincerity and especially because it forces so many really good men amongst ourselves into an open war with the very fundamental principles of civil liberty. lincoln is not trying to demonize southerners.
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southern slave holders, they are very good men. he knows them. he was born in kentucky. his wife is from kentucky. his wife's family, the todd family owns slaves. his beau ideal of a statesman, henry clay, owns slaves. he is not saying the problem here is some kind of demonic possession of southerners. no, the southerners are americans like ourselves. they profess republican principles, really good men. the problem is that in defending slavery it turns them inside out. it puts them into open war with the very fundamental principles of civil liberty. criticizing the declaration of independence and insisting there is no right principle of action but self-interest. remember james henry hammond and the mud sills. the doctrine, lincoln says --
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the doctrine of self-government is right, absolutely and eternally right. and that was part of the strategy of stephen a. douglass. because when stephen a. douglass comes and says let's let popular sovereignty solve the question of slavery in the territories? ? what does that sound like except -- well that's self-government. that's democracies. let the people on the ground make choices. that's self-government. all right, yes, lincoln says the doctrine of self-government is right, absolutely and eternally right. but it has no just application as here attempted. or perhaps i should rather say that whether it has such application depends on whether a negro is not or is a man. if the negro is a plan, is it not to that extent a total destruction of self-government to say that he too shall not govern himself? you talk about popular sovereignty as an example of
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self-government. and then you take a whole category of people and you exclude them from governing themselves. that's not self-government. that's a fraud. that's a bad imitation of self-government. you know what the problem is, lincoln says, it's not just that stephen a. douglass is a clever politician, not just that kansas-nebraska appeals to self-interest. the problem is our republican robe is soiled. what he is saying here is we've all got our hands in the toilet. our republican robe is soiled. we have allowed it to become soiled. and trailed in the dust. the fundamental thing we have to do here is to turn and repurify it, turn and wash it white in the spirit if not the blood of
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the revolution. let us turn slavery from claims of moral right, people who said that slavery was good for the slaves -- back upon its existing legal rights and arguments of necessity. which is to say, the only reason we tolerate slavery is is the same reason we tolerate -- that the founders did, because it was there and it had certain legal guarantees but don't give it more than that. let us return to the position our fathers gave it. and there let it rest in piece. r.i.p. let us readopt the declaration of independence and with it the practices and police policy which harmonize with it. let north and south, let all americans, let all lovers of liberty everywhere join in the great and good work. if we do this, we shall not only have saved the union but we
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shall have so saved it as to make and keep it foreverworthy of the saving. we shall have so saved it that the succeeding millions of free, happy people, the world over, shall rice up and call us blessed to the latest generations. this is our task. our task is not just about the missouri compromise, kansas-nebraska, not even just about popular sovereignty. it's about the whole american project. that's what's at stake here. what's at stake here is not weather ian james or kenneth mckraken can take slaves with them into kansas. because ian and kenneth might be nice people. what's at stake here is that the entire project of self-government -- of the sovereignty of the people. and ian and kenneth might be nice guys. but whether they realize it or
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not they've called into question the fundamental principles of american government. let's readopt them, start there. and if we start there then inee luktably we will work back and everything else will sort out and we'll be rid of slavery. but we have to start there. at that fundamental level. well that was what lincoln wanted to do. the question was going to be whether he was going to get a chance to do it. and a lot of the question about that chance was bound up with this individual here, a slave from missouri born in 1795 named dred scott. dred scott was a slave owned by dr. john emerson. emersons with a contract surgeon for the united states army.
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and as par of his service in the united states army as a contract civilian he, like everyone else in the army at all times in history of the u.s. army constantly has to uproot and move and go to various places. i can testify to that as a card carrying army brat. all right? you knew you were only six to eight months in any location before you were going to have to move on. well emerson has to move on too. so he is stationed first at ft. armstrong in illinois. and then he is move to ft. snelling in minnesota while minnesota at that point was still a territory. dr. emerson marries eliza sanford in 1838. alas, however, he dies in 1843.
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and dred scott after the death of dr. emerson -- dred scott sues for his freedom in the year 1846. eliza sanford by the way transferred ownership of dred scott to her brother, john sanford in 1850. that's just a detail. so dred scott sues for his freedom. sues in the state courts in missouri. why? why do you think he would do that? quinn? >> -- in those days. >> look at ft. armstrong. it's in illinois. what is illinois? illinois is a free state. mind you, there are what were called transit laws.
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transit laws permitted slave holders, if they have to journey or live for a short period of time in illinois to do is to without jeopardizing title to their slaves. but emerson was doing more than a quick pass through illinois while stationed at ft. armstrong. even more so ft. snelling is in the minnesota territory. what is the minnesota territory as a territory governed by? what's the statute? no, the northwest ordnance of 1787 which mandated, of course, that slavery could not exist in those territories. dred scott's logic is, i was taken into a free state and lived there, not under temporary transit. but i lived in a semipermanent condition. and what's more, i was then
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moved to ft. snelling, in minnesota, in a territory where slavery is a legal impossibility. now if slavery is a legal impossibility he can't continue to be a slave when he is in minnesota, right? all right. that's the logic of it. so that's the basis of his plea. and he goes into the missouri courts and sues for his freedom. if scott had entered this suit ten or 15 years before, he would probably have been freed by the missouri courts. it was a good, solid plea and had been recognized by the missouri courts in years before. but this wasn't years before. this was 1846. and a lot had changed. and when scott appeals to the missouri supreme court in november of 1852, the missouri supreme court strikes down his appeal on these grounds.
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times are not now as they were when the former decisions on this subject were made. since then, not only individuals but states have been possessed with a dark and fel spirit in relation to slavery whose graft knicks is sought in measures whose inevitable consequences must be the overthrow and destruction of our government. under such circumstances -- in other words, that was then, this is now -- under such circumstances it does not behoove the state of missouri to show the least count innocence to any measure which might gratify the spirit. she is willing to assume the full responsibility for slavery within her limits nor does she seek to share nor divide it with others. the answer to dred scott from the missouri supreme court is, nope, too bad. you stay a slave. but there is a complication
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here. because after all, in moving to illinois and moving to minnesota, scott has crossed state boundaries. this becomes more than just a state affair. this now moves to federal jurisdiction and so scott is going to appeal in 1854 to the federal courts. and of course the ultimate court of appeals in the federal system is the united states supreme court. and his freedom suit comes to the united states supreme court as dred scott versus sanford. they misspelled it in the feshl docketing of the case. so sanford -- john sanford acquires a d he didn't have in his name. never mind. dred scott versus sanford. what is the supreme court going to do with this?
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because you have to think, what body -- what governmental body passed the northwest ordinance? what it the british. >> no. no. >> lexi. >> the articles of confederatation. >> the confederatation congress. the zuvrms is the congress authority to make rules for the northwest territory. fast forward to the kansas-nebraska act. the kansas-nebraska act lays down rules governing slavery or the possibility of slavery in kansas and nebraska. okay? congress does that. congress adopts the kansas-then act. the assumption from the northwest oernds up to the kansas-nebraska act is that the united states congress is vested with the authority to make the
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determinations about the status of slavery in the territories. i mean, no matter what decision it makes the northwest ordinance was no slavery. kansas-nebraska it's slavery if you can get a popular majority. but it's congress passing the legislation. congress has the authority to oversee. that's about to change. boy, is it about to change. and it changes because of this gentleman here. the chief justice of the united states supreme court roger brooke taney. appointed to the supreme court by andrew jackson. taney had been a faithful jacks jacquecine yan servant, secretary of the treasury. when facsimile made his war upon the bank of the united states, the hatchett man, so to speak, was roger brooke taney.
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jackson appoints taney to the supreme court to succeed the famous john marshall. and for more than 20 years taney had been chief justice of the united states supreme court. it is to taney's court that the dred scott case comes. is argued and heard. and on march 6 clinton, 1857, a decision is handed down. it's a clear-cut majority decision, 7-2. and the opinion in this case is written by taney himself. what does he say? he says basically two things. dred scott must stay at slave because he has no standing to sue in federal court. it's a question of jurisdiction.
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this is a technicality. but it's an important technicality. taney writes the question before sus whether the class of persons described in the plea and abatement compose a portion of this people. and our constituent members of the sovereignty. we think they are not. and that they are not included and were not intended to be included under the words "citizens" in the constitution. and can therefore claim none of the rights and privileges which that instrument provides for and secures to citizens of the united states. so taney's first answer in the dred scott case is a no to dred scott. on the basis that dred scott is first of all a slave, and secondly black. the founders, argues taney, the founders wrote this country, the constitution for in country for white people who are free.
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white people who are free are the only ones who can be citizens. ergo, scott is not a citizen. ergo again, scott does not have standing to sue in federal court. because to sue in federal court you have to be a citizen. but since dred scott cannot be a citizen, he can't sue. now taney might have stopped there and simply made this a question of jurisdiction. a way of saying i've just found a reasoning whereby i won't have to put my hand further into this mess. and this is an example of s.e.p., remember the three great initials. somebody else's problem. this is what taney says. black people are somebody else's
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problem, the states. don't bother the federal courts with them. but taney wasn't content to stop there. oh, no. he has to also provide an opinion based upon popular sovereignty and due process. notice that when he makes at the very end of the first quote, he makes the comment that, black slaves could not be included under the word citizens and can therefore claim none of the rights and privileges which that instrument provides for and secures to citizens in the united states. look at the words rights and privileges. all right if rights and privileges don't belong to dred scott that means they do belong to white citizens. well, great, what are the rights and privileges? that's what he picks up here. citizens of the united states who migrate to a territory belonging to the people of the united states cannot be ruled as
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mere colinists. dependent upon the will of the general government and governed by any laws it may think proper to impose. an act of congress which grivs a citizen of the united states of liberty or property merely because he came himself or brought his property into a particular territory of the united states hawn and who admitted no offense against the laws could hardly be dignified with the flame of due pro of law. every citizen is entitled to due process of law. so if you want to take your property into the kansas territory you should be entitled to do it. as a citizen you have certain privileges as immunities and you cannot be deprived of privileges and immunities without due process of law. congress can't pass a statute saying kenneth mckraken,
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mckraken if you own a dapple horse, no dapple horses may be taken into kansas. now you'd look at that and say, are you people in congress nuts? this is perfectly artificial distinction. this horse is my property. i'm taking it with my other property, pigs, cats, dogs, goats. i'm taking that with me to kansas. now congress might pass a statute but that's going to the courts because you're going to sue in federal court and say i'mo i want due pro of law. and courts that respect your right as a citizen will say, you know, congress must have been sniffing something when it passed that statute preventing dapple horses from being taken into kansas. that's crazy. throw it out. due process of law. everybody gets the same process of law applied to them. now, transfer that to slave
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property. to chattel property. if you ian james own a slave, and you want to go to the kansas territory, it is an act of arbitrary tyranny for congress to say you can take your cat, pig, goat, horse, but you can't take the slave. because the one is as much property under law as any other. why should you a citizen of the united states be told you cannot bring that slave into the kansas territory? you see what taney is doing he is using the idea of due process to blow up the doctrine of popular sovereignty. in the largest sense he is blowing up the whole notion that congress has any authority to legislate for the territories. but in particular this is aimed at popular sovereignty, because what did popular sovereignty
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teach? well, if you, ian james, if you want to take your slave into the kansas territory, you're only going to get to keep your slave there if you can persuade everyone else in congress -- everyone else in kansas to agree with you and legalize slavery in kansas. suppose, however everybody in kansas looks at ian james and says, no show. we're not going to legalize slavery in kansas. we're going to exercise popular sovereignty and for bid slavery in kansas. by taney's reasoning they can't do that to you. you're a u.s. citizen. you cannot be deprived of your property without due process of law. and due process of law is immediately going to expose that as arbitrary legislation. so what is taney saying here? there is now no restraint, not even the restraint of popular
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sovereignty on taking slaves into the territories. ian wants to take his slave with him into kansas. everyone else in kansas might reprobate what ian is doing. but legally speaking as a citizen of the united states, in the u.s. territory, nobody can take away that from him any more they can take away his pig, goat or cat. taney just blew popular sovereignty to pieces. and in fact with it he blew the entire notion of congressional control over the territory to pieces. there is now no restraint on the expansion of slavery in the territories. now, if you thought -- if zachary, if you thought back in 1854 that the kansas city-nebraska act was a problem,
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because it provided the possibility of legalizing slavery in some of the territories. if you thought that was a problem, look at the migraine headache you have now. kansas-nebraska was a sniffle compared to the dred scott decision. you all see the logic of this? yes. yes, indeed. and nobody -- nobody thought this was better news than the new president of the united states, james buchanan. buchanan is inaugurated on the 4th of march, 1857, just two days before the dred scott decision is handed down. and he rejoices in it.
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because he looks at the dred scott decision as the final settlement of the slavery question. the dred scott decision has now made it absolutely clear, final and absolute congress has nothing to do with slavery. congress can pass no statute, congress can't do this, can't do that, can't do the other. out of the slavery business. therefore no reason for any more controversy over slavery. almost. because remember that kansas, the kansas territory is still bleeding. proslavery forces in kansas took a leaf out of buchanan's book at this point. and assembled their own constitutional convention, state constitutional convention, at the pro-slavery capital of
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kansas, the town of le compton. there they adopt a state constitution legalizing slavery in kansas, which technically speaking, according to dred scott they didn't even have to do. but they did anyway. and this draft state constitution, which becomes known simply as the le compton constitution is sent to the united states congress, so that congress can approve this and admit kansas as a slave state to the union. and james buchanan puts his shoulder to the wheel. nobody wants the le compton constitution adopted more than james buchanan. and he gets his way at first. the senate of the united states
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adopts the le compton constitution. but there buchanan starts to lose traction. because now the le compton constitution has to go to the house of representatives. in the house of representatives le compton constitution fails of approval. 120 to 112. a compromise proposal is put forward by william h. english of indiana. a bill known as the english bill. now the compromise works something like this. the le compton constitution was adopted by the pro-slaveryites in le compton without a single
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vote from the anti-slavery kansans in the rest of the state. this, of course, is what stuck like a fish bone sideways in the throat of the house of representatives. so that the english bill proposes to send the le compton constitution, this pro-slavery state constitution back to kansas for a referendum. and to the enormous embarrassment of james buchanan, this time the anti-slavery kansans turn out to vote, and the referendum sends the le compton constitution into the abyss. huge political embarrassment for buchanan. that makes buchanan politically vulnerable. and if there is one person in a good position to take account of
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buchanan's political vulnerability, it is stephen a. douglass, the senator from illinois. douglass had -- had pegged his credibility -- he had pegged his career, he had pegged his ambitions one day to become president of the united states to the doctrine of popular sovereignty. well, now it appeared that the dred scott decision had exploded popular sovereignty. oh, wait, said douglass. wait a minute. not so fast. in a given territory -- let's say ian takes his slave into kansas. when he arrives in kansas with his slave they look around, say, oh, this is kansas. where is toto? okay. so they're looking around saying this is kansas.
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now, at that point ian's slave says yeah, this kansas place is nice. but you know something, what's over the state border or the territorial border to the north is even better. and i'm out of here. feet, do your thing. so he runs away. now at this point ian says, all right, call in the marshal and apply the laws for fugitives. wait a minute, there is no law on the books yet. douglass says that illustrates a point. in theory -- in theory we may have to agree with chief justice taney. that in kansas and in nebraska and any other western territories that are carved out from them, you're going to have to recognize that slavery can be taken there. however, nobody in those kerts is obliged to pass -- to adopt, to implement the police measures necessary to enforce slavery.
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so douglass reasons, all that a territory has to do to go back to exercising popular sovereignty is to refuse to enact the police regulations that enforce slavery. because of the state legislature refuses deduct that no slave owner in their right mind is going to take their slave into that place. it's a kind of negative popular sovereignty. so reasoning that way for stephen a. douglass, popular sovereignty lives. which is not what james buchanan wanted. and so buchanan and douglass come to loggerheads. the president of the united states versus the most powerful senator in the senate, both of the same political party as democrats. and when douglass comes to call
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upon james buchanan it's not a pretty picture. at last the president became somewhat excited on the subject and arose and said to me, mr. douglass, i desire you to remember that no democrat ever yet differed from an administration of his own choice without being crushed. don't mess with the president of your party. and then he added, beware of the fate of talmadge and reeves. two on strep rouse democrats who challenged andrew jackson and lived to regret it. i arosing with douglass says, i arose and said mr. president i wish to you remember that general jackson is dead, sir. which is the 1850s equivalent of saying, i knew andrew jackson.
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you're no andrew jackson. oh, but unfortunately for stephen a. douglass, he is coming up for re-election in 1858. and if james buchanan decides to take revenge by undercutting douglass's bid for re-election, then douglass could find himself a man without a job and a politician without a future. of course, douglass has a lot of built up loyalty at home in illinois. for getting elected senator. the only question is going to be, who are the republicans in illinois going to put up as a challenger? well, the answer is abraham
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lincoln. this is not because lincoln is the famous abraham lincoln. this is because abraham lincoln is a prom then former whig lawyer who has now join the republican party as of 1856. and because no other republican is really interested in breaking their teeth trying to challenge stephen a. douglass. so it's very much a case of, well, we know we're not winning in election. so, all right. well let's nominate lincoln. because nobody else wants to lose in the republican ranks. lincoln understood the odds were long here. but lincoln had had a long career of controversy and opposition with douglass. lincoln was spoiling for a
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fight. the state republican convention convenes in springfield, illinois, in mid-june of 1858. they endorse lincoln for the united states senate. now, mind you, they can only endorse him because before 1912 senators are selected by the state legislatures. they're not popularly elected. strictly speaking, no one is nominating lincoln for the senate, any more anyone is nominating douglass for the senate. it's the state legislature which is going to do the electing. but since it's the state legislature also up for election in 1858, everyone knows that a vote cast for a republican member of the state legislature is the equivalent of a vote cast for lincoln. every vote for a democratic member of the state legislature is indirectly a vote cast for stephen a. douglass for the
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senate. but that's a daunting prospect. because stephen a. douglass is the most famous political figure in illinois. and who is abraham lincoln? the republican state convention endorses lincoln. and on june 16th, the evening of june 16th lincoln stais up at the dais in the haul of representatives in the old state capitol in springfield. what a place to stand. stood there right on that place and looked at the galleries, looked at the seating on the floors of the old state capitol. oh, how the images run through your mind. you're standing in the same place as lincoln stood. and he delivered an acceptance speech which just blows people
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away. an acceptance speech known as the house divided speech. if we could first know where we are politically speaking, and wither we are tending, politically speaking, if we could know what our real position is, and if we could understand where the position of things is taking us, then we could better judge what to do and how to do it. all right, says lincoln, i'm going to tell you where we are. i'm going to tell you the direction in which we are tending. and it's not pretty. we are now far into the fifth year -- all right, do some subtraction. he is talking about kansas-nebraska. we are now far into the fifth year since a policy was initiated with the avowed object and confident promise of putting
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end to slavery agitation. that's what kansas-nebraska and popular sovereignty were supposed to do. under the operation of that policy, that agitation has not only not ceased. but is constantly augmented. exhibit a, bleeding kansas. yeah, kansas -- the kansas-nebraska bill really did a lot of good in kansas, didn't it? what did it get pb sack lawrence. john brawn, potowattamyp kansas-nebraska really brought peace, didn't it? in my opinion it will not cease until a crisis -- not just the lacko sack of lawrence. john brown, until a crisis shall have been reached and passed. why? because a house divided against itself cannot stand. the real issue here -- the real issue here is not the political disposition of the kansas territory. the real question here is not just the le compton
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constitution. the real question here is slavery and freedom. again, lincoln wants to take you back to first principles just as did he in the peoria speech in 1854. let me tell you what's really at stake here, lincoln says. i believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free. i do not expect the union to be dissolved. i do not expect the house to fall. but i do expect it will cease to be divided. it will become all one thing or all the other. that's where we are tending. either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it's in the course of ultimate extinction, which is what he believed up until kansas-nebraska, or its advocates will push it forward until it shall being lawful in all states old as well as new
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abnorth as well as south. that's where we are tending. this then begins the great political campaign between lincoln and douglass. which takes its most visible shape in a series of seven debates between abraham lincoln and stephen a. douglass, between august and october of 1858. douglass's strategy is the to play the race card. abraham lincoln opposes slavery. you know what that means? douglass says, that means he want to free all the slaves. when he frees all the slaves all the slaves are coming in and mix in your society and they are going to take your jobs, and they're going to marry your daughters, and that will be just bad. and lincoln has a hard time
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fending this off. i agree with judge douglass he is not my equal in many respects, certainly not in color, perhaps not moral and intellectual endowment. but in the right, the natural right which trumps all civic legislation -- in the right to eat the bread without the leave of anybody else which his own hand earns, he is my equal. and judge douglass's equal, and the equal of every living man. talk about shinnying out on a limb. that might not sound dramatic to our ears. but in 1858 a lot of republicans bleevtd that lincoln was knotting a rope around his neck, playing right into douglass's race card. but douglass has problems houff his own. is it really the case, lincoln
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asks, is it really the case that under the heading of negative popular sovereignty the people of a territory can ban slavery? you really think so, mr. douglass? and douglass has to be careful how he answers that question, because if he says, no, i don't really believe that, every northerner will vote against him. but if he says, yeah i do believe that. i do believe slavery can be excluded by negative popular sovereignty he is losing every democratic voter in the south. can the people of a territory in any lawful way against the wishes of any citizen,o of the united states exclude slavery from their limits prior to the formation of a state constitution? i answer emphatically as mr. lincoln heard me answer a hundred times. remember the stump in illinois, that in my opinion the people of a territory can by lawful means exclude slavery from their limits prior to the formation of
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a state constitution. which pinpoint stephen a. douglass slit his throat politically, publicly, as far as any future support from southern democrats. it matters not what way the supreme court may here after decide. the people have the lawful means to introduce it or exclude it as they please for the reason that slavery cannot exist a day or an hour anywhere unless supported by local police regulations. it is lincoln who at the end of the debate seizes the high ground. once again, he says, let us return to first principles. the real issue -- the real issue, lincoln says, between judge douglass and myself is the eternal struggle between these two principles, right and wrong, throughout the world. they are the two principles that have stood face-to-face from the beginning of time and will ever
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continue to struggle. it is the same spirit that says you toil, work and earn bread and i'll eat it. no matter in what shape is comes, whether from the mouth of a king seeks to bee stride the labor of his nation and live by the fruit of their labor from one race of men as apology for enslaving another, it's the same tyrannical principle. lincoln lost the election. not because he wasn't convincing, not because he didn't get votes. but because the legislative aportionment favored downstate democratic voters more heavily than mid-state and up-state republican voters. and so douglass is re-elected. but lincoln's words have made
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such a deep impact, even though he loses the election, he wins national attention and suddenly people are asking all across the country, who is this man from illinois? who bearded stephen a. douglass in his own den? who is this man lincoln? but it would not be lincoln they would hear from next. oh, no. the next voice would come from our old friend john brown. and that's what we will pick up with in our next hour. >>. >> announcer: six years ago april 17th 1961 a force of more than 1400 skrai trained cuban extiles aisles launched an
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invasion at the bay of pigs on the southern coast of cuba. the goal the overthrow of communist leader fiddle castro who had taken power two years earlier in the cuban revolution. the invasion disintegrated in a matter of days with 118 killed and more than 1,100 captured. the feesk ov cast a paul offer president kennedy's administration and set a stage for the nuclear showdown with the soviet showdown known as the cubale crisis tonight beginning at 8:00 p.m. eastern on american history tv we look back at the failed invasion and consequences. ♪♪ ♪♪
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>> announcer: yale law professor justin driver talked about the 1956 southern manifesto, a document written by congressional members who oppose the supreme versus board of education decision which ruled that segregated schools were unconstitutional. mr. driver analyzes how strom thur man and other contributors argued for segregation in what they named the constitution principles. the supreme court historical society hosted the lecture with justice elena kagan offering introductory remarks.


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