Southern History Series: The Dred Scott Decision

Have you ever read the Dred Scott decision of 1857?

If you haven’t done so, I would highly recommend it. The Dred Scott decision was written by Chief Justice Roger Taney who was a native of Maryland. It struck down the Missouri Compromise which opened all the Western territories to slavery. Taney used history and law to explain why blacks were not American citizens and had “no rights which the white man was bound to respect.” He also said the Constitution was formed by the Founders “for them and their posterity, but for no one else.”

Cornell Law:

“It will be observed that the plea applies to that class of persons only whose ancestors were negroes of the African race, and imported into this country and sold and held as slaves. The only matter in issue before the court, therefore, is, whether the descendants of such slaves, when they shall be emancipated, or who are born of parents who had become free before their birth, are citizens of a State in the sense in which the word “citizen” is used in the Constitution of the United States. And this being the only matter in dispute on the pleadings, the court must be understood as speaking in this opinion of that class only, that is, of those persons who are the descendants of Africans who were imported into this country and sold as slaves …

The words “people of the United States” and “citizens” are synonymous terms, and mean the same thing. They both describe the political body who, according to our republican institutions, form the sovereignty and who hold the power and conduct the Government through their representatives. They are what we familiarly call the “sovereign people,” and every citizen is one of this people, and a constituent member of this sovereignty. The question before us is whether the class of persons described in the plea in abatement compose a portion of this people, and are constituent members of this sovereignty? We think they are not, and that they are not included, and were not intended to be included, under the word “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. On the contrary, they were at that time considered as a subordinate and inferior class of beings who had been subjugated by the dominant race, and, whether emancipated or not, yet remained subject to their authority, and had no rights or privileges but such as those who held the power and the Government might choose to grant them. …

They had for more than a century before been regarded as beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race either in social or political relations, and so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect, and that the negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit. He was bought and sold, and treated as an ordinary article of merchandise and traffic whenever a profit could be made by it. This opinion was at that time fixed and universal in the civilized portion of the white race. It was regarded as an axiom in morals as well as in politics which no one thought of disputing or supposed to be open to dispute, and men in every grade and position in society daily and habitually acted upon it in their private pursuits, as well as in matters of public concern, without doubting for a moment the correctness of this opinion …

The first of these acts is the naturalization law, which was passed at the second session of the first Congress, March 26, 1790, and confines the right of becoming citizens “to aliens being free white persons.” ….

It would seem to have been used merely because it followed out the line of division which the Constitution has drawn between the citizen race, who formed and held the Government, and the African race, which they held in subjection and slavery and governed at their own pleasure.

Another of the early laws of which we have spoken is the first militia law, which was passed in 1792 at the first session of the second Congress. The language of this law is equally plain and significant with the one just mentioned. It directs that every “free able-bodied white male citizen” shall be enrolled in the militia. The word white is evidently used to exclude the African race, and the word “citizen” to exclude unnaturalized foreigners, the latter forming no part of the sovereignty, owing it no allegiance, and therefore under no obligation to defend it. The African race, however, born in the country, did owe allegiance to the Government, whether they were slave or free, but it is repudiated, and rejected from the duties and obligations of citizenship in marked language. …

The third act to which we have alluded is even still more decisive; it was passed as late as 1813, 2 Stat. 809, and it provides:

That from and after the termination of the war in which the United States are now engaged with Great Britain, it shall not be lawful to employ, on board of any public or private vessels of the United States, any person or persons except citizens of the United States, or persons of color, natives of the United States.

Here the line of distinction is drawn in express words. Persons of color, in the judgment of Congress, were not included in the word citizens, and they are described as another and different class of persons, and authorized to be employed, if born in the United States.”

Aside from his ruling in the Dred Scott decision, Taney is known for the Ex parte Merryman decision in which he denied that Lincoln had the right to suspend the writ of habeas corpus and arrest John Merryman who was being held as a political prisoner in Fort McHenry following the Baltimore Riot of 1861. Lincoln ignored and defied the order of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

After the War Between the States, the Reconstruction Amendments had to be passed at gunpoint by the Republican Party to establish black citizenship and voting rights. This was because of Taney’s ruling in the Dred Scott decision and the fear the Civil Rights Act of 1866 would be found unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. The Founders had created a White Republic and a voluntary Union of sovereign states for their posterity which Lincoln and his Radical Republican allies in Congress overturned to create the centralized and consolidated empire that we live under today.

About Hunter Wallace 12366 Articles
Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Occidental Dissent


  1. I’ve always wondered why South Carolina, after passing the resolution of secession, did not sue US government in the Taney court and ask them to acknowledge the legality of secession. In this scenario the Supreme Court would have taken control of the situation and pre-empted the incoming president Lincoln’s ability to prepare for war. It was very likely that the Taney court, which had majority pro slavery judges, would give out a verdict in favor of secession.

    • @Balban

      I’ve always wondered why South Carolina, after passing the resolution of secession, did not sue US government in the Taney court and ask them to acknowledge the legality of secession.

      Because that would be tantamount to asking for permission. The states don’t need permission to secede, or nullify unconstitutional laws. They’re sovereign states, not subordinate subjects.

      • The United States were indeed sovereign prior to the Southern rebellion. However, the United States is no longer comprised of such entities.

  2. It is amazing that white southerners strongly support the Republican Party nowadays. It is also significant that constitutions mean nothing when one side has the power to enforce their beliefs, The legacy of Abraham Lincoln can only be sustained by lies, propaganda, and the changing of people’s values through indoctrination called education.

    I have read that Abraham Lincoln offered the command of the American army to the free-mason, Catholic hating, and satanist called Garibaldi. Garibaldi refused. I was also taught this in religious class. A significant reason why I strongly despise the American hero called Lincoln.

    • “Abraham Lincoln offered the command of the American army”

      It wasn’t the American army. It was the Yankee army.

      Had some foreign power landed troops in the Gulf Coast, they’d have hauled ass back to Minnesota, Iowa, New York and Massachusetts, as fast as they could. They certainly wouldn’t have bothered to enlist, and their state governments would have probably tried to make a separate peace with invaders, thus screwing over Dixie, again, like they’ve always done.

      • James Owen,

        But they were Americans with a duly elected President. The southern separatists were the ones who did not want to be Americans any more.

        The country is and was called the United States of America. It is not nor has ever been called the Yankee country of America.

        I support your rebellion but it was still a revolt against America. The same way that British colonists living in America did not want to be British any more in 1775. They were revolting against Britain. That is/was the name of the country the same as America is the name of the country the southern separatists were revolting against.

      • James Owen,

        Perhaps it is a play on words or a slice of Americanism but i do not understand the difference between yankees and Americans.

    • Richard Nixon’s “Southern strategy” in the 1968 presidential campaign appealed to conservative white Southerners abandoned by the Democrat party and LBJ.

  3. I was taught that Minnesotans signed up in droves to fight on the Union side in the Civil War (22,000 in the Civil War, another few thousand to keep the Indians in check). We became a state in 1858, and we were properly anti-Indian and anti-slavery, so many of my forebears were raring to prove our patriotism to the Great Tyrant Lincoln. Minnesotan troops (Second Volunteers) were even on the March to the Sea. Think what you like about Sherman, but I admire a general using indirect tactics. It makes a force more mobile and unpredictable, which tends to save lives. Sherman only lost 1% of his troops using such tactics, and bottled up and/or confused most of the Confederates facing him.

  4. It’s true it was hashed about to offer Garibaldi a command, but nothing came of it. He was a great hero at the time, fighting for liberty and a united Italy, and had a lot of battle experience, and was a kind of super star then.
    You can call him a satanist if you want, but he is still a great hero to the Italians.

    Minnesota offered a lot of troops to the war, and I think one Minnesota regiment fought very gallantly at Gettysburg, almost decimated but held the line and keeping the Confederates from breaking through. I think that regiment is much more valiant then the 20th Maine, which figures in the book The Killer Angels.
    Sherman was a ruthless but skillful commander, and he also was better then a lot of the Confederate generals in the West, who simply hadn’t the abilities of Grant and Sherman. Also there was Thomas, an excellent union general who, by the way, was a Virginian. His sisters turned his portrait to the wall because he ‘betrayed’ Virginia by serving in the union army, and they never spoke to him again.

    Call Lincoln a tyrant if you want, but I think he was a great man. He was much in the same stripe as Garibaldi, and you have to remember that at that time, nationalism and unifying peoples was the zeitgeist, and both men represented that. Many, from Edmund Wilson to Gore Vidal, noted how similar Lincoln was to Bismarck as he unified Germany. Grant met Bismarck, and certainly made that observation, and admired Bismarck.

    I was in Minnesota many years ago at National Guard camp near Brainerd. It’s nice country, and I even swam across the Mississippi there, it’s that narrow.
    Remember, you guys also gave us Sinclair Lewis.

    • Thanks for the nice words about my home state, dargason. I’m so down on it now because I can’t stand see it being dragged down by PC totalitarian forces, but it’s important to remember the good aspects, too. The Minnesotans I appreciate most are Charles Lindbergh, and his father, a long-serving Congressman. I find them more admirable than writers like Lewis and Fitzgerald. I appreciate your perspective, though.

    • dargason,

      I agree that Lincoln and Garibaldi are in the same moral category. He was evil and fought against lawful authority both Church and State. Unifying Italy was not some moral imperative. Therefore, rebelling against such authority is wrong. Fighting a war under such conditions is murder. A revolt against lawful authority can only occur when basic god given rights are being violated in mass in a serious manner and violence is the only solution. Creating a country called Italy that had never existed in history as a country is not some basic right.

      I am strongly against internationalism. But also against nationalism. Destroying god- made racial differences is evil. But killing or uprooting people of a different language/ethnic group who rightfully live in the same land as someone else is wrong. As is killing to create a country like that.

      My understanding is Germany united voluntarily after the Franco-Prussian War. I am not aware of any German revolt against authority to achieve that goal—such union is not necessary either, but is not in itself a sin.

      Remember I am not a nationalist white/ethnic/civic/language or any other form. I just recognize that nationalism is usually less evil than internationalism.

      Since we have different moral beliefs there can never be a meeting of our minds.I am Traditional Catholic and you are a supporter of all I am against.

      When white nationalists operate to defend yourselves and your identity I am on your side to an extent. When they operate against the lawful rights of others I am against you. I would never support kicking out non-anglos in the USA who have been here lawfully for some time.

      Illegals are different.

Comments are closed.