Reversing Dred Scott
This book postulates that Darwinism, coupled with socialism in its various iterations, embarked upon a completely different direction and in many ways reversed the dearly won gains of preceding generations. The work of the eugenicists and their like-minded zealots in the highest institutions of government can be said to have turned their back on their ideological and ethical heritage, and marched lock-step in the opposite direction. The best way to illustrate this theory is to compare the words one camp left for posterity with the documents of the other camp. In this sense, it can be said that Darwin and his eugenic-minded followers were going in a completely opposite direction than Abraham Lincoln and the Founding Fathers.
Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln, as this book documents, devoted their lives to uphold the sanctity of the individual. To them, the differences or personal prejudices of man were beneath the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. Both of them admitted their personal prejudices, but adamantly asserted that regardless of origin, all are “created equal,” with “equal opportunity to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” by their “Creator,” regardless of how one defined “Creator.” It is precisely because Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln, as frail and imperfect men, openly recognized their prejudices that one must regard the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and the Emancipation Proclamation as superior works of humanity that transcended the banality so apparent in Darwin’s “Descent of Man.” That is precisely what they were designed to do: transcend personal prejudices and contemporary banalities. This is the underlying strength of the founding documents, and unfortunately, this is precisely the lesson that was never understood by the radical activists that begun in earnest to discard these documents in the years between 1846 and 1946.
Going backwards in the timeline, the Fifteenth Amendment is the first document whose wording evidences a direction all together incompatible with that of the eugenicists. The Fifteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits each government in the United States from denying a citizen the right to vote based on that citizen’s “race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” It was ratified on February 3, 1870. The Fifteenth Amendment is one of the Reconstruction Amendments and it reads:
Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.
The Fifteenth Amendment is the third of the Reconstruction Amendments. This amendment prohibits the states and the federal government from using a citizen’s race, color, or previous status as a slave as a voting qualification. The North Carolina Supreme Court upheld this right of free men of color to vote; in response, amendments to the North Carolina Constitution removed the right in 1835. Granting free men of color the right to vote could be seen as giving them the rights of citizens, an argument explicitly made by Justice Curtis’s dissent in the landmark case of Dred Scott v. Sandford:
Of this there can be no doubt. At the time of the ratification of the Articles of Confederation, all free native-born inhabitants of the States of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey and North Carolina, though descended from African slaves, were not only citizens of those States, but such of them as had the other necessary qualifications possessed the franchise of electors, on equal terms with other citizens. (S.C.O.T.U.S., “Dred Scott v. Sandford”)
Both the final House and Senate versions of the amendment broadly protected the right of citizens to vote and to hold office. The final House version read, “The right of citizens of the United States to vote and hold office shall not be denied or abridged by any State on the account of race, color, nativity, property, creed or previous condition of servitude.” The final Senate version read, “No discrimination in the exercise by any citizen of the United States of the elective franchise, or in the privilege of holding office, shall in any State by based upon race, color or previous condition of said citizen or his ancestors.”
The Enforcement Acts in the United States were four acts passed from 1870 to 1871 that were meant to protect rights of all blacks following ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution as part of Reconstruction, which entitled freedmen and all others born in the United States to full citizenship. The first act protected black voting by prohibiting the use of violence to prevent blacks from voting. Another provided for federal supervision of southern elections. The Ku Klux Klan Act passed in 1871 strengthened sanctions against those who attacked freedmen or prevented them from voting. By making such activities a federal crime, if states failed to protect freedmen, the federal government could intervene with troops on their behalf and vindicate the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, as intended by President Abraham Lincoln.
The constitutionality of the Acts was tested in the case Ex parte Yarbrough, where in 1883, eight Georgia men, including Dilmus, James, Jasper, and Neal Yarbrough, were charged under the Enforcement Act with intimidating Berry Saunders, an African American, to prevent him from voting in the 1882 congressional election. The eight were convicted and sentenced to two years in prison. Following their conviction, the eight men filed petitions for writs of habeas corpus on the ground that Congress had no authority to pass the Enforcement Act, thus directly challenging the Act’s constitutionality.
The question before the court was if Congress had the authority to pass the Enforcement Act of 1870. The court concluded in the affirmative. In a unanimous opinion written by Justice Samuel Freeman Miller, the US Supreme Court concluded that the federal government “must have the power to protect the elections on which its existence depends from violence and corruption.” After noting that the implied powers of the Constitution are “as much a part of the instrument as what is expressed,” Justice Miller wrote that the Necessary and Proper Clause of Article I, Section 8, in conjunction with Article I, Section 4, which provides that “Congress may at any time make or alter” regulations regarding the “times, places, and manner of holding elections,” granted Congress the necessary authority to pass the Enforcement Act. Additionally, the Court found additional defense of Congress’ authority in the enforcement provision of the Fifteenth Amendment. The Court determined that “this fifteenth article of amendment does…substantially confer on the Negro the right to vote, and Congress has the power to protect and enforce that right.”
The one institution which was supposed to stand between justice and injustice, and which was created for the specific purpose of upholding the laws as written, fell on the wrong side of history often enough to do significant harm to the humanitarian cause. In the span of 100 years, The Supreme Court of the United States delivered opinions that proved devastating to human history and betrayed the very soul of the Nation. Tracing our steps backwards, the Supreme Court delivered an opinion with concurred with the most barbaric aspects of Adolf Hitler’s Germany and provided him with justification for his actions in Buck v. Bell; it upheld segregation in Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896, and thus made “separate but equal” the law until 1956. In tragic comedy, the Supreme Court awarded corporations rights equal to that of humans in 1886 case of Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Company; well within the wake of a devastating Civil War fought to decide whether actual humans had those same rights. The lower courts fared no better. They facilitated the fraud perpetrated on Carrie Buck by a serpent’s nest of corny attorneys. They failed to address the clear and present dangers exposed in the “Civic Biology” book at the center of the vaunted Scope’s Monkey Trial.
The consequences of Buck v. Bell by itself turned out to be much more costly than we could endure. Tens of thousands of Americans suffered at the hands of “science” for the protection and betterment of the “society” as a result. Adolf Hitler’s henchmen waved the law it upheld as their model and inspiration for their own eugenic experiments at the Nuremberg Doctor’s Trials. Either in utter obliviousness or displaying the arrogance of the victor, the United States assigned one of the Supreme Court Justice that had participated in Buck v. Bell to address the “crimes” that emerged from the same eugenic wellspring in the Nuremberg Trials. In historical perspective, Hitler’s henchmen were defending their right to enforce the Nuremberg Laws, which were after all verbatim copies of Harry H. Laughlin’s model eugenic law that had been front and center at Buck v. Bell.
The story was no different in September of 1858, when the U.S. Supreme Court was given the opportunity to fall on the right side of history and fulfill the wishes of the Founding Fathers; to put an end to slavery. The slave Dred Scott took his case to the highest court in the land, to the one court that was erected in the spirit of individual freedom amidst a world of tyranny, and that court failed him, and failed its very reason for existing. Dred Scott was an African-American slave in the United States who unsuccessfully sued for his freedom and that of his wife and their two daughters in the Dred Scott v. Sandford case of 1857. His case was based on the fact that although he and his wife Harriet Scott were slaves, he had lived with his master Dr. John Emerson in states and territories where slavery was illegal according to both state laws and the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, including Illinois and Minnesota, which was then part of the Wisconsin Territory. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled seven to two against Scott, finding that neither he, nor any person of African ancestry, could claim citizenship in the United States, and by extension, non-citizen Scott could was barred from bring suit in a United States Federal court. Furthermore, the court ruled the Missouri Compromise unconstitutional as it would improperly deprive Scott’s owner of his “legal property.”
The Supreme Court’s Dred Scott decision not only reversed progress that had been made in the La Amistad case in closing the legal avenues available to those intent on entrenching the institution of slavery, but was of significant influence in creating the impetus towards civil war. The La Amistad before the Supreme Court in 1841 ironically had successfully defended the rights of individuals of African descent whom were not citizens of the United States; precedent ignored by the very court that had delivered the La Amistad decision. Abraham Lincoln would in other debates against Douglas would point to the “covert language” of the U.S. Constitution which had in the La Amistad case exposed the real intent of the Founding Fathers by intentionally side-stepping the use of terms such as “slave” and “property” in the Founding documents; a fact the Confederates would tacitly concede by making those exact changes to their version of the Confederate Constitution.
While Chief Justice Roger B. Taney had hoped to settle issues related to slavery and Congressional authority by this decision, it aroused outrage and deepened sectional tensions. Lincoln biographer Benjamin P. Thomas, wrote in his 2008 book “Abraham Lincoln”:
Most virulent were the abolitionists of the Garrisonian school. Enraged at the Court’s pronouncement, they clamored for disunion more noisily than had the Southern fire-eaters. ‘No Union with slaveholders,’ cried Garrison. (p. 173)
The crux of the Supreme Court’s Dred Scott opinion hinged on several key points:
OPINION POINT #4: “A free negro of the African race, whose ancestors were brought to this country and sold as slaves, is not a “citizen” within the meaning of the Constitution of the United States.”
OPINION POINT #5: “When the Constitution was adopted, they were not regarded in any of the States as members of the community which constituted the State, and were not numbered among its “people or citizens.” Consequently, the special rights and immunities guarantied to citizens do not apply to them. And not being “citizens” within the meaning of the Constitution, they are not entitled to sue in that character in a court of the United States, and the Circuit Court has not jurisdiction in such a suit.”
OPINION POINT #6: “The only two clauses in the Constitution which point to this race treat them as persons whom it was morally lawfully to deal in as articles of property and to hold as slaves.”
On June 26, 1857, then candidate Abraham Lincoln, gave his views on what had transpired at the Supreme Court in hearing Dred Scott’s plea for help. Lincoln criticized the court for the blatant inaccuracy of the above points. Lincoln, a seasoned attorney, may at that moment in time have been nothing more than a “country lawyer” who’s legal opinion did not have the respect or weight of that of the Supreme Court Justices. In retrospect, Lincoln’s legal mind was superior and his analysis proven accurate. This conclusion is arrived at with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, as at the moment when Abraham Lincoln gave the June 26, 1857 speech, the Civil War had not started, and the most compelling piece of evidence had not been produced. This conclusion is not derived from deference or awe for the great President, but by the deeds of the parties in question after Lincoln’s famous criticism of the Dred Scott decision. Attorney, Abraham Lincoln’s analysis of the Dred Scott decision proved to be cutting and precise as proven by the actions and key documents of the Confederacy, namely the constitution they adopted for their newly created country, which as we have seen, drafted key changes that departed from the original U.S. Constitution on the above listed issue. The confederates defined a slave as “property,” where the Constitution by the Founding Fathers did not, and it adopted the use of the word “slave” instead of the partial personhood that the Founding Fathers had intentionally drafted into the original in order to side-step the use of the term “slave.”
Lincoln understood the intentions of the Founding Fathers on these key points and premises. He also understood that his pro-slavery opponents understood the gaping holes in their argument, and begun his analysis by pointing to his opponent’s actions as evidence that they didn’t practice what they preached when it came to respecting the decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court. The first claim that Lincoln found suspect was the claim that the issue of slavery hinged on the right to “self-government” and “State’s rights,” and that the Federal government had no say in the territories or States:
But in all this, it is very plain the Judge evades the only question the Republicans have ever pressed upon the Democracy in regard to Utah. That question the Judge well knows to be this: “If the people of Utah shall peacefully form a State Constitution tolerating polygamy, will the Democracy admit them into the Union?” There is nothing in the U.S. Constitution or law against polygamy; and why is it not a part of the Judge’s “sacred right of self-government” for that people to have it, or rather to keep it, if they choose?”… If it prove to be true, as is probable, that the people of Utah are in open rebellion to the United States, then Judge Douglas is in favor of repealing their territorial organization, and attaching them to the adjoining States for judicial purposes. — To be sure, it would be a considerable backing down by Judge Douglas from his much vaunted doctrine of self-government for the territories; but this is only additional proof of what was very plain from the beginning, that that doctrine was a mere deceitful pretense for the benefit of slavery.
Lincoln continues his analysis by providing the historical perspective which rebutted the notion that the Supreme Court’s decisions were final and binding on a population that did not regard the decision as legitimate or settled. Lincoln did not agree that the Dred Scott decision foreclosed on the issue of slavery as his pro-slavery opponents claimed:
Judicial decisions have two uses—first, to absolutely determine the case decided, and secondly, to indicate to the public how other similar cases will be decided when they arise. For the latter use, they are called “precedents” and “authorities.” — We believe, as much as Judge Douglas, (perhaps more) in obedience to, and respect for the judicial department of government. We think its decisions on Constitutional questions, when fully settled, should control, not only the particular cases decided, but the general policy of the country, subject to be disturbed only by amendments of the Constitution as provided in that instrument itself. More than this would be revolution. But we think the Dred Scott decision is erroneous. We know the court that made it, has often over-ruled its own decisions, and we shall do what we can to have it to over-rule this. We offer no resistance to it.
Lincoln reminds his opponent in the debate, Judge Douglas, that he had once vigorously supported the nullification of a prior Supreme Court decision by Executive action. Abraham Lincoln provides a direct quote from Andrew Jackson, the President that had come from Judge Douglas’ Southern States, and which had enjoyed Judge Douglas’ unbridled support in nullifying the Supreme Court’s decision regarding the Bank of the United States:
It is maintained by the advocates of the bank, that its constitutionality, in all its features, ought to be considered as settled by precedent, and by the decision of the Supreme Court. To this conclusion I cannot assent. Mere precedent is a dangerous source of authority, and should not be regarded as deciding questions of constitutional power, except where the acquiescence of the people and the States can be considered as well settled. So far from this being the case on this subject, an argument against the bank might be based on precedent. One Congress in 1791, decided in favor of a bank; another in 1811, decided against it. One Congress in 1815 decided against a bank; another in 1816 decided in its favor. Prior to the present congress, therefore the precedents drawn from that source were equal. If we resort to the States, the expressions of legislative, judicial and executive opinions against the bank have been probably to those in its favor as four to one. There is nothing in precedent, therefore, which if its authority were admitted, ought to weigh in favor of the act before me. …
Again and again have I heard Judge Douglas denounce that bank decision, and applaud Gen. Jackson for disregarding it. It would be interesting for him to look over his recent speech, and see how exactly his fierce philippics against us for resisting Supreme Court decisions, fall upon his own head. It will call to his mind a long and fierce political war in this country, upon an issue which, in his own language, and, of course, in his own changeless estimation, was “a distinct and naked issue between the friends and the enemies of the Constitution,” and in which war he fought in the ranks of the enemies of the Constitution.
Lincoln continued by questioning the historical and legal accuracy of the Supreme Court’s Dred Scott opinion. It was clearly lacking in historical accuracy or a correct interpretation of the founding of the Nation, and thus its Founding documents:
If this important decision had been made by the unanimous concurrence of the judges, and without any apparent partisan bias, and in accordance with legal public expectation, and with the steady practice of the departments throughout our history, and had been in no part, based on assumed historical facts which are not really true; or, if wanting in some of these, it had been before the court more than once, and had there been affirmed and re-affirmed through a course of years, it then might be, perhaps would be, factious, nay, even revolutionary, to not acquiesce in it as a precedent. …
I have said, in substance, that the Dred Scott decision was, in part, based on assumed historical facts which were not really true; and I ought not to leave the subject without giving some reasons for saying this; I therefore give an instance or two, which I think fully sustain me. Chief Justice Taney, in delivering the opinion of the majority of the Court, insists at great length that Negroes were no part of the people who made, or for whom was made, the Declaration of Independence, or the Constitution of the United States. — On the contrary, Judge Curtis, in his dissenting opinion, shows that in five of the then thirteen states, to wit, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey and North Carolina, free Negroes were voters, and, in proportion to their numbers, had the same part in making the Constitution that the white people had. He shows this with so much particularity as to leave no doubt of its truth; and, as a sort of conclusion on that point, holds the following language:
“The Constitution was ordained and established by the people of the United States, through the action, in each State, of those persons who were qualified by its laws to act thereon in behalf of themselves and all other citizens of the State. In some of the States, as we have seen, colored persons were among those qualified by law to act on the subject. These colored persons were not only included in the body of ‘the people of the United States,’ by whom the Constitution was ordained and established; but in at least five of the States they had the power to act, and, doubtless, did act, by their suffrages, upon the question of its adoption.”
Abraham Lincoln also addresses the fact that the Nation’s attitude towards slavery had turned for the worse since the Founding Fathers, and that the intent of the Founding Fathers should not be assumed to be in line with popular sentiment at the time of the Dred Scott decision. Most importantly, Lincoln took on this libel on the Founding Fathers as the notion that their sentiments were in line with those of the fire-breathing pro-slavery Confederates was a false accusation:
Again, Chief Justice Taney says: “It is difficult, at this day to realize the state of public opinion in relation to that unfortunate race, which prevailed in the civilized and enlightened portions of the world at the time of the Declaration of Independence, and when the Constitution of the United States was framed and adopted.” And again, after quoting from the Declaration, he says: “The general words above quoted would seem to include the whole human family, and if they were used in a similar instrument at this day, would be so understood.”
Lincoln’s response is worth quoting at length as the facts he lays out persist to be misunderstood, and it has become popular again to claim that the generation of the Founding Fathers were as prejudiced towards blacks as the generation immediately before and after the American Civil War:
In these the Chief Justice does not directly assert, but plainly assumes, as a fact, that the public estimate of the black man is more favorable now than it was in the days of the Revolution. This assumption is a mistake. In some trifling particulars, the condition of that race has been ameliorated; but, as a whole, in this country, the change between then and now is decidedly the other way; and their ultimate destiny has never appeared so hopeless as in the last three or four years. In two of the five States—New Jersey and North Carolina —that then gave the free Negro the right of voting, the right has since been taken away; and in a third—New York—it has been greatly abridged; while it has not been extended, so far as I know, to a single additional State, though the number of the States has more than doubled. In those days, as I understand, masters could, at their own pleasure, emancipate their slaves; but since then, such legal restraints have been made upon emancipation, as to amount almost to prohibition. In those days, Legislatures held the unquestioned power to abolish slavery, in their respective States; but now it is becoming quite fashionable for State Constitutions to withhold that power from the Legislatures. In those days, by common consent, the spread of the black man’s bondage to new countries was prohibited; but now, Congress decides that it will not continue the prohibition, and the Supreme Court decides that it could not if it would. In those days, our Declaration of Independence was held sacred by all, and thought to include all; but now, to aid in making the bondage of the Negro universal and eternal, it is assailed, and sneered at, and construed, and hawked at, and torn, till, if its framers could rise from their graves, they could not at all recognize it.
Lincoln certainly shows his own personal prejudices, but explains how these are beside the point when it comes to respecting the law of the land as constructed by the Founding Fathers:
There is a natural disgust in the minds of nearly all white people, to the idea of an indiscriminate amalgamation of the white and black races; and Judge Douglas evidently is basing his chief hope, upon the chances of being able to appropriate the benefit of this disgust to himself. If he can, by much drumming and repeating, fasten the odium of that idea upon his adversaries, he thinks he can struggle through the storm. He therefore clings to this hope, as a drowning man to the last plank. He makes an occasion for lugging it in from the opposition to the Dred Scott decision. He finds the Republicans insisting that the Declaration of Independence includes ALL men, black as well as white; and forthwith he boldly denies that it includes Negroes at all, and proceeds to argue gravely that all who contend it does, do so only because they want to vote, and eat, and sleep, and marry with Negroes! He will have it that they cannot be consistent else. Now I protest against that counterfeit logic which concludes that, because I do not want a black woman for a slave I must necessarily want her for a wife. I need not have her for either, I can just leave her alone. In some respects she certainly is not my equal; but in her natural right to eat the bread she earns with her own hands without asking leave of any one else, she is my equal, and the equal of all others. …
Chief Justice Taney, in his opinion in the Dred Scott case, admits that the language of the Declaration is broad enough to include the whole human family, but he and Judge Douglas argue that the authors of that instrument did not intend to include Negroes, by the fact that they did not at once, actually place them on an equality with the whites. Now this grave argument comes to just nothing at all, by the other fact, that they did not at once, or ever afterwards, actually place all white people on an equality with one or another. And this is the staple argument of both the Chief Justice and the Senator, for doing this obvious violence to the plain unmistakable language of the Declaration. I think the authors of that notable instrument intended to include all men, but they did not intend to declare all men equal in all respects. They did not mean to say all were equal in color, size, intellect, moral developments, or social capacity. They defined with tolerable distinctness, in what respects they did consider all men created equal—equal in “certain inalienable rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” This they said, and this meant.”
Lincoln’s explanation that the Declaration of Independence only guaranteed “equal opportunity” is noteworthy when discussing the topic of eugenics and socialist utopian schemes, as these took the reverse approach and pretended to guarantee “equal results” for all:
They did not mean to assert the obvious untruth, that all were then actually enjoying that equality, nor yet, that they were about to confer it immediately upon them. In fact they had no power to confer such a boon. They meant simply to declare the right, so that the enforcement of it might follow as fast as circumstances should permit. They meant to set up a standard maxim for free society, which should be familiar to all, and revered by all; constantly looked to, constantly labored for, and even though never perfectly attained, constantly approximated, and thereby constantly spreading and deepening its influence, and augmenting the happiness and value of life to all people of all colors everywhere.
Lincoln’s legal analysis that the Declaration was written not just for emancipation from the King of England but for posterity as well is important to note in any discussion about the rights of man as opposed to the rights of the state or a sovereign:
The assertion that “all men are created equal” was of no practical use in effecting our separation from Great Britain; and it was placed in the Declaration, not for that, but for future use. Its authors meant it to be, thank God, it is now proving itself, a stumbling block to those who in after times might seek to turn a free people back into the hateful paths of despotism. They knew the proneness of prosperity to breed tyrants, and they meant when such should re-appear in this fair land and commence their vocation they should find left for them at least one hard nut to crack.
After expressing his view of the meaning and objects of the portion of the Declaration of Independence which declares that “all men are created equal” Lincoln moved onto Judge Douglas interpretation:
No man can vindicate the character, motives and conduct of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, except upon the hypothesis that they referred to the white race alone, and not to the African, when they declared all men to have been created equal—that they were speaking of British subjects on this continent being equal to British subjects born and residing in Great Britain—that they were entitled to the same inalienable rights, and among them were enumerated life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The Declaration was adopted for the purpose of justifying the colonists in the eyes of the civilized world in withdrawing their allegiance from the British crown, and dissolving their connection with the mother country.” My good friends, read that carefully over some leisure hour, and ponder well upon it—see what a mere wreck—mangled ruin—it makes of our once glorious Declaration.
The debate then turns to a eugenic question; it turns to the question of whether a state that sanctions slavery is more or less prone to race-mixing than a state that enforces freedom for all, and pointed to the ugly truth about how “masters” used their female slaves, a necessary measure since Judge Douglas was fearmongering about race amalgamation in order to sway people against emancipation:
But Judge Douglas is especially horrified at the thought of the mixing blood by the white and black races: agreed for once—a thousand times agreed. There are white men enough to marry all the white women, and black men enough to marry all the black women; and so let them be married. On this point we fully agree with the Judge; and when he shall show that his policy is better adapted to prevent amalgamation than ours we shall drop ours, and adopt his. Let us see. In 1850 there were in the United States, 405,751, mulattoes. Very few of these are the offspring of whites and free blacks; nearly all have sprung from black slaves and white masters. — In 1850 there were in the free states, 56,649 mulattoes; but for the most part they were not born there—they came from the slave States, ready made up. In the same year the slave States had 348,874 mulattoes all of home production. The proportion of free mulattoes to free blacks—the only colored classes in the free states—is much greater in the slave than in the free states. It is worthy of note too, that among the free states those which make the colored man the nearest to equal the white, have, proportionally the fewest mulattoes the least of amalgamation. In New Hampshire, the State which goes farthest towards equality between the races, there are just 184 Mulattoes while there are in Virginia—how many do you think? 79,775, being 23,126 more than in all the free States together.
Abraham Lincoln also reveals the all-too-forgotten prejudice that the Northern anti-slavery activists were guilty of, and which later would evolve into the eugenic movement by the sons and grandsons of ex-Union anti-slavery activists and supporters. Abraham Lincoln, himself supports the call for “segregation” of the races for eugenic goals; an offshoot of the issue of slavery which evolved into the “segregation” which would not be repealed until the 1950’s and the Civil Rights movement:
I have said that the separation of the races is the only perfect preventive of amalgamation. I have no right to say all the members of the Republican party are in favor of this, nor to say that as a party they are in favor of it. There is nothing in their platform directly on the subject. But I can say a very large proportion of its members are for it, and that the chief plank in their platform—opposition to the spread of slavery—is most favorable to that separation.
This is how the country of Liberia came to be: from a eugenic-minded idea that the races should be “separated” or “segregated,” and if possible, the Africans returned to their native land. As historians have otherwise documented, this was one of the first solutions proposed by President Abraham Lincoln to the African-American leadership upon entering office:
Such separation, if ever effected at all, must be effected by colonization; and no political party, as such, is now doing anything directly for colonization. Party operations at present only favor or retard colonization incidentally. The enterprise is a difficult one; but “when there is a will there is a way;” and what colonization needs most is a hearty will. Will springs from the two elements of moral sense and self-interest. Let us be brought to believe it is morally right, and, at the same time, favorable to, or, at least, not against, our interest, to transfer the African to his native clime, and we shall find a way to do it, however great the task may be. …
The plainest print cannot be read through a gold eagle; and it will be ever hard to find many men who will send a slave to Liberia, and pay his passage while they can send him to a new country, Kansas for instance, and sell him for fifteen hundred dollars, and the rise.
President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, and the post-Civil war Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth amendments nullified the Dred Scott decision. The commonly agreed to perspective typically attributes some responsibility for the upsurge in tensions leading up to the Civil War to this precipitous Supreme Court decision. The most enduring loss is the loss of respect for the Founding Fathers that was created as a consequence of the Supreme Court’s opinion. The Supreme Court is typically not seen as irresponsible or inaccurate as Abraham Lincoln described in this speech, despite the fact that history proved him right. The erroneous notion that the Founding Fathers intended African-Americans remains as strong today as it did upon the publishing of the Dred Scott decision. The hard facts are on the side of Lincoln. If the Founding Fathers intended to deem “slaves” as “property,” or even plainly as “slaves,” they easily could have. They didn’t. The carefully crafted U.S. Constitution intentionally uses other terminology, and at no point confines citizenship based on a racial standard as the Supreme Court Justices and Judge Douglas would have us believe. To the contrary, they left for posterity carefully crafted language specifically drafted precisely to avoid using the terms “slave” and “property.” The very sharp legal minds involved in the La Amistad case carefully documented these facts, and Abraham Lincoln picked up on them as the astute “country lawyer” that he was.
The Dred Scott decision was also tailor-made for conspiracy theorists, and not just those looking backwards with 20/20 hindsight. Richard H. Sewell, author of “Ballots for Freedom: Antislavery Politics in the United States, 1837-1860,” “A whispered exchanged between Chief Justice Taney and President Buchanan at the 1857 inaugural seemed a sinister reminder of the recent ‘collusion’ of Douglas and Pierce on the Kansas Nebraska Bill. ‘Stephen and Franklin and Roger and James,’ claimed Abraham Lincoln, had plotted to protect slavery in the territories.” (p. 60) William and Bruce Catton, authors of the book “Two Roads to Sumter,” wrote that there “were indications that Democratic leaders, including President Buchanan, had skirted dangerously close to the bounds of judicial propriety in bringing pressure on the Court for a territorial pronouncement in the Scott case. If prominent Democrats and the six majority Justices had avoided actual collusion — which many outraged Northerners refused to believe — there had been enough communication between Court and politicians during the Scott hearings to suggest that most of the Justices knew precisely what was expected of them.” (p. 138) This would put the Dred Scott decision right in line with various other of the sham trials including Buck v. Bell and the Scope’s Monkey Trial.
EXCERPT: This chapter did not make it into the final edit of “From a ‘Race of Masters’ to a ‘Master Race’: 1948-1848” and is presented here with all its defects and imperfections.