Tag Archives: history

Dred Scott and Roger B. Taney – The human factor in history


Lonnie Bunch, museum director, historian, lecturer, and author, is proud to present A Page from Our American Story, a regular on-line series for Museum supporters. It will showcase individuals and events in the African American experience, placing these stories in the context of a larger story — our American story.

A Page From Our American Story

On March 6, 1857, in the case of Dred Scott v. John Sanford, United States Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney ruled that African Americans were not and could not be citizens. Taney wrote that the Founders’ words in the Declaration of Independence, “all men were created equal,” were never intended to apply to blacks. Blacks could not vote, travel, or even fall in love and marry of their own free will — rights granted, according to the Declaration, by God to all. It was the culmination of ten years of court battles — Dred Scott’s fight to live and be recognized as a free man.

The High Court’s decision went even further, declaring laws that restricted slavery in new states or sought to keep a balance between free and slave states, such as the Missouri Compromise, were unconstitutional. In essence, Black Americans, regardless of where they lived, were believed to be nothing more than commodities.

The Taney court was dominated by pro-slavery judges from the South. Of the nine, seven judges had been appointed by pro-slavery Presidents — five, in fact, came from slave-holding families. The decision was viewed by many as a victory for the Southern “Slavocracy,” and a symbol of the power the South had over the highest court.

The dramatic ripple effect of Dred Scott — a ruling historians widely agree was one of the worst racially-based decisions ever handed down by the United States Supreme Court — reached across the states and territories. It sent shivers through the North and the free African-American community. Technically, no black was free of re-enslavement.

Free Blacks, many of whom had been in Northern states for years, once again lived in fear of being hunted down and taken back to the South in servitude. Southern slave laws allowed marshals to travel north in search of escaped slaves. The ruling was such a concern to Free Blacks, that many seriously considered leaving the United States for Canada or Liberia.

The decision played a role in propelling Abraham Lincoln — an outspoken anti-slavery voice — into the White House. The slavery issue had already created a turbulent, volatile atmosphere throughout the nation. Dred Scott, like kerosene tossed onto a simmering fire, played a significant role in igniting the Civil War. The North became ready to combat what it viewed as the South’s disproportionate influence in government.

The court case lives in infamy today, but few people know much about the actual people involved. I suspect Scott and Taney never imagined they would play such powerful roles in our great American story.

Taney was from Maryland, a slave state, but had long before emancipated his slaves and reportedly paid pensions to his older slaves, as well. As a young lawyer he called slavery a “blot on our national character.” What turned Taney into a pro-slavery advocate is not clear, but by 1857, Taney had hardened, going as far as to declare the abolitionist movement “northern aggression.”

It is reported that Dred Scott was originally named “Sam” but took the name of an older brother when that brother died at a young age. Scott was born into slavery in Virginia around 1800 (birth dates for slaves were often unrecorded), and made his way westward with his master, Peter Blow. By 1830, Scott was living in St. Louis, still a slave to Blow. He was sold to Army doctor John Emerson in 1831 and accompanied him to his various postings — including stations in Illinois and the Wisconsin Territory (what is now Minnesota).

In 1836, Scott married Harriett Robinson. Reports vary on whether she was a slave of Emerson’s prior to the marriage or Emerson purchased her from another military officer after she and Scott had fallen in love. The series of events underscored the painful and difficult lives slaves led. Love, like everything else, was subject to the vagaries of their owners’ dispositions.

Emerson died in 1843, leaving the Scott family to his wife, Irene. Three years later, Scott tried to buy his freedom, but to no avail. Scott’s only recourse was to file suit against Mrs. Emerson. He did so on April 6, 1846, and the case went to a Missouri court the following year. He would lose this case, but win on appeal in 1850. Emerson won her appeal in 1852, and shortly afterward gave the Scotts to her son, John Sanford, a legal resident of New York. Because two states were now involved, Scott’s appeal was filed in federal court in 1854 under the case name of Dred Scott v. John Sanford, the name that came before Taney in 1857.

History is filled with dramatic and strange twists of irony and fate. Those factors can be found throughout Scott’s battle for freedom. Peter Blow’s sons, childhood friends of Scott’s, paid his legal fees. Irene Emerson had remarried in 1850. Her new husband, Massachusetts Congressman Calvin Chaffee, was anti-slavery. Following Taney’s ruling, the now-Mrs. Calvin Chaffee, took possession of Dred, Harriett and their two daughters and either sold or simply returned the family to the Blows. In turn, the Blows freed the Scotts in May, 1857.

Dred Scott, a man whose name is so deeply-rooted in our history, so linked to the war that would end slavery, would die just five months later of tuberculosis. However, he died a free man.

All the best,

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Dorthy Height – In Memory


Dorothy Height: a civil rights heroine, educator and social activist ; She was a woman who had her finger print on all things American and as the President said,” deserves a place in our history”.    3/24/1912 – 4/20/2010

first posted 4/22/2011

 

 

Giving Thanks …


Thanksgiving turkey video

A great animated turkey surprise above …

There are so many things to be thankful for –

being alive …

having children alive, well and feisty as ever.

 We should all be Thankful for life, laughter,love and that we are all still able to share, mindful of those who have less.

Happy Thanksgiving …

Imagine a World with NO Nukes & NO Chemical Weapons …

that respects trades puts legacy land religion and greed aside for the prosperity for their next generation

 

Friday the 13th …


To be sure, we have all thought about the history of Friday the 13… right

just another rant … on this 2nd Friday 13th of 2017

 I think we have all used it as an excuse, but if you take everything our POTUS has had to address over the last eight years you hope that other superstition about everything happening in sevens is right around the corner.  The 114th and now the 115th Congress, controlled by Republicans meets less, holds more hearings all paid for by taxpayers, debates and votes on legislation that does NOT always support their constituents or their best interests. They are the epitome of what Friday the 13 is all about and while voters were warned, we had eight years of experiencing the wrath of the party of no … why? because people continue to stay home instead of exercising their right to vote … #MidTermsMatter

In addition, the 2017 calendar is giving us 2 Friday the 13ths which happens more often than not but reports are that our fellow Americans in the northeast apparently get more snow blizzards with extreme cold … which can lead to flooding, while the NW is experiencing more than enough rain to make up for some drought

We must all remember that this is not only disaster weather season it is also when Republicans go into full campaign mode.  We used to think that government is there when all else has failed.  The fact is the Party of No says one thing does another hoping the voter sees nothing.  Unfortunately, unlike the tornadoes, hurricanes and flooding that happens mostly Republican States, we see the disaster that seems atypical of the Republican Party of No. We all need to question those States with Republicans in control who have not in my opinion invested enough money or effort in making sure all their constituents are safe, have an emergency plan, a place to go or transportation to evacuate. Though, if you listen they want and advocate less government, less taxes, less debt, less spending unless their state needs money to plug their budgets or women who dare want need reproductive rights …  just a few of several examples of why in this election year people need to be more aware.

We all know a vote for Rand Paul is a vote for going back in time when a certain group treated Women and Minorities like things or inanimate objects. In fact, the current class and culture warfare is enough to see why we the People should not vote for any Republican until they stop the racism, discrimination and that family values platform that takes women back to a time when being seen but not heard and producing babies all the time was the norm. It is not a healthy way to live and all I have heard from Republicans are unhealthy attitudes toward women, gays, children, and people of colour, who they really want to control and or disenfranchise at the ballot box. We only have to look at the number of brown and black men in our jails and or prisons, who more often than not are charged excessively compared to white defendants.

I think we all agree that this has to be the worse time or moment to be President of the US yet, if folks would do their research, the improvements or changes are moving us into the right direction but change takes time.  Though we all heard about the meetings and requests for money from Wall Street and Banks by Republicans as reported by talking heads on cable or hearing Speaker Boehner made a visit and held a presser which showed him shaking hands with one if not both Koch brothers.

Speaking of Money, it is important to be reminded of the stimulus, which Republicans voted down but knew they were all going to get for “their” constituents anyway, gave out big checks and took credit for the money while bashing and stating the Obama Administration is spending excessively.  Who knew that Republican Governors would plug their budgets, give the stimulus to their “special interest groups”, or make big bold statements at ribbon cuttings. I guess it should have been obvious to us that Republicans had an agenda that included eliminating social programs or persons employed by the State or Federal government. They say the best middle class jobs are created by small business people but the fact is most are public service positions.  It is important to remind folks that Republicans say stop spending, stop entitlements and continue to be the Party of No while being pro-Wall Street, pro-Banks; maybe doing backroom deals or fund-raising with folks like the Koch bros for the upcoming elections; in spite of We the People.  The question is …why if in the right state of mind anyone would vote Republicans into Political Office in the upcoming midterms knowing that it will be bringing back the status quo. The change in 2014 means voting for members of Congress who will have the courage in this vile environment to put People before Profit and Party, at this moment it is a Democratic Party. We all know that did not happen so our next attempt to get the positive change we need is to vote for the Democratic Party all down the ballot in 2016.

In my utopia, those wanting to be in public service would be required to believe in equal rights for everyone, true Reforms of entities that gamble while creating products meant to fail that impact or demolish our economy locally and globally.

Nevertheless, that is just my dream and ok, it’s Friday the 13th

August … a month full of historic events


270px-Hurricane_Katrina_Mobile_Alabama_flooded_parking_lot_20050829just another rant …

This month we remember Katrina … remind folks what happened on the Gulf Coast as the people fled, were forced out or died in the Katrina disaster trying to get out.

August 1, 1838 – Slavery was abolished in Jamaica. It had been introduced by Spanish settlers 300 years earlier in 1509.

August 2, 1776 – In Philadelphia, most of the 55 members of the Continental Congress signed the parchment copy of the Declaration of Independence.

August 4, 1962 – Apartheid opponent Nelson Mandela was arrested by security police in South Africa. He was then tried and sentenced to five years in prison. In 1964, he was placed on trial for sabotage, high treason and conspiracy to overthrow the government and was sentenced to life in prison. A worldwide campaign to free him began in the 1980s and resulted in his release on February 11, 1990, at age 71 after 27 years in prison. In 1993, Mandela shared the Nobel Peace Prize with South Africa’s President F.W. de Klerk for their peaceful efforts to bring a nonracial democracy to South Africa. In April 1994, black South Africans voted for the first time in an election that brought Mandela the presidency of South Africa.

August 4, 1964 – Three young civil rights workers, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, were found murdered and buried in an earthen dam outside Philadelphia, Mississippi. They had disappeared on June 21 after being detained by Neshoba County police on charges of speeding. They were participating in the Mississippi Summer Project organized by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) to increase black voter registration. When their car was found burned on June 23, President Lyndon Johnson ordered the FBI to search for the men.

August 5, 1861 – President Abraham Lincoln signed into law the first Federal income tax, a 3 percent tax on incomes over $800, as an emergency wartime measure during the Civil War. However, the tax was never actually put into effect.

August 6, 1965 – The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson. The Act suspended literacy, knowledge and character tests designed to keep African Americans from voting in the South. It also authorized the appointment of Federal voting examiners and barred discriminatory poll taxes. The Act was renewed by Congress in 1975, 1984 and 1991.

August 6-10, 1787 – The Great Debate occurred during the Constitutional Convention. Outcomes included the establishment of a four-year term of office for the President, granting Congress the right to regulate foreign trade and interstate commerce, and the appointment of a committee to prepare a final draft of the Constitution.

August 10, 1863 – The President meets with abolitionist Frederick Douglass who pushes for full equality for Union ‘Negro troops.’

August 9, 1974 – Effective at noon, Richard M. Nixon resigned the presidency as a result of the Watergate scandal. Nixon had appeared on television the night before and announced his decision to the American people. Facing possible impeachment by Congress, he became the only U.S. President ever to resign.

August 11, 1841Frederick Douglass, an escaped slave, spoke before an audience in the North for the first time. During an anti-slavery convention on Nantucket Island, he gave a powerful, emotional account of his life as a slave. He was immediately asked to become a full-time lecturer for the Massachusetts Antislavery Society.

August 11-16, 1965 – Six days of riots began in the Watts area of Los Angeles, triggered by an incident between a white member of the California Highway Patrol and an African American motorist. Thirty-four deaths were reported and more than 3,000 people were arrested. Damage to property was listed at $40 million.

On August 14, 1862, Abraham Lincoln did something unprecedented in presidential history up to that point: he met with a small delegation of black leaders (all free: 5 black clergymen). But the meeting did not auger a decision to give African Americans a voice in government. In essence, Lincoln sought to lobby these men in essence to agree to a divorce. In other words, the President wanted to get black Americans behind his plan to colonize them abroad. -Source http://quod.lib.umich.edu/l/lincoln/lincoln5/1:812?rgn=div1;singlegenre=All;sort=occur;subview=detail;type=simple;view=fulltext;q1=August+14

August 14, 1935 – President Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act establishing the system which guarantees pensions to those who retire at age 65. The Social Security system also aids states in providing financial aid to dependent children, the blind and others, as well as administering a system of unemployment insurance.

August 15, 1969 – Woodstock began in a field near Yasgur’s Farm at Bethel, New York. The three-day concert featured 24 rock bands and drew a crowd of more than 300,000 young people. The event came to symbolize the counter-culture movement of the 1960’s.

August 18, 1920 – The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, granting women the right to vote.

August 28, 1963 – The March on Washington occurred as over 250,000 persons attended a Civil Rights rally in Washington, D.C., at which Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. made his now-famous I Have a Dream speech.

    August 28, 1955 The death of Emmett Till

 August 29, 2005 Hurricane Katrina slams into Gulf Coast

 

#ElectionsMatter for our next generation

Resource: http://www.historyplace.com

~Nativegrl77