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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“Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.”
oh yeah, it’s a rant …
a repost `2013
So, we are in the 21st Century, Women have a constitutional right to have an abortion yet folks like Rep.Trent Franks act as if they know what is best for all Women, just think about that . Why is he throwing ALL Women into to one basket? The fact is Women lead very different lives make individual decisions every minute … duh and an abortion is just one of several health care issues Women may have to encounter. The best solutions are Birth Control in all its forms as well as safe affordable legal constitutional right to abortion. I find it beyond offensive to hear Republicans infer that an abortion is chosen carelessly and for those who seem to think birth control in all its forms is a federal or states right issue actually use it as a Republican political football. The fact is that Republicans with Women in their lives forget that their position pushes up against 98% of those who use birth control. They need to stop and focus on Jobs, Immigration, ending any idea of Shutdowns, Climate Change among just a few. I say until republicans come to their senses, which honestly doesn’t look at all possible, vote for the Democratic Party that supports upward mobility as well as the middle lower classes and the poor = equality
I came across an article by Dave Thompson from The Denver Post. It appears as though the mission to demean control and or shutter a Woman’s right to choose is alive and well as North Dakota‘s Senate successfully passed what is called the” heart beat” bill, my first response was … say Wha? We have just entered the twilight zone or maybe daylight savings has caused some chaos in North Dakota but then I read on and found that…
“Senators also approved a second bill that bans abortions based solely on genetic abnormalities, the first state ban of its kind if signed into law. The bill would also ban abortions based on the gender of the fetus, which would make North Dakota the fourth state to ban sex-selection based abortions.” All on Friday!
Call N.D. Republican Governor, Jack Dalrymple and ask him why ? 701 328 2200 ask him why assume Women are ill-equipped, silly, naïve or would put up with abortion bans without a fight
for the complete article click on the link below
Hey, whatever happened to taking” liberty” under the Bill of Rights and “freedom” under Civil Liberties seriously – and both could be at risk
On Sunday, January 22, 2012, President Obama released a statement letting Women know that he is reaffirming his promise to protect a woman’s right to choose. Announcing that “After evaluating comments, we have decided to add an additional element to the final rule Nonprofit employers who, based on religious beliefs, do not currently provide contraceptive coverage in their insurance plan, will be provided an additional year, until August 1, 2013, to comply with the new law. Employers wishing to take advantage of the additional year must certify that they qualify for the delayed implementation. This additional year will allow these organizations more time and flexibility to adapt to this new rule. We intend to require employers that do not offer coverage of contraceptive services to provide notice to employees, which will also state that contraceptive services are available at sites such as community health centers, public clinics, and hospitals with income-based support. We will continue to work closely with religious groups during this transitional period to discuss their concerns.”
There have been changes to the announcement above as well as big changes to health care for women … in a good way and more to come. If you don’t know, please know that because of the new health care law women can now look forward to less discrimination and you do not have to be poor to benefit … can I just say that again, women will NOT be discriminated against anymore. We know some in the insurance field, doctors and or hospitals will try to beat the system, but the law is there to refer to now and covers All Americans not just some. It is hard for me to believe pro-lifers do not understand that every part of a woman’s health is subject to being penalized and that includes reproductive health care, which includes a wide range of health care issues. It is bad enough that lawmakers actually would subject women to demeaning practices like undergo a transvaginal scope; make them wait 72hrs, but to make doctors liable for jail time too. I have to say that among other ridiculous laws that need a vote in Congress, The Hyde Amendment requires a vote every year … the Hyde Amendment is a legislative provision barring the use of certain federal funds to pay for abortions with exceptions for incest and rape. It is not a permanent law, rather it is a “rider” that, in various forms, has been routinely attached to annual appropriations bills since 1976. The Hyde Amendment applies only to funds allocated by the annual appropriations bill for the Department of Health and Human Services. It primarily affects Medicaid. wiki
I also admit that it pisses me off that the latest group of people in office are still getting away with saying one thing and do another which includes forcing their “family values” platform/ideology on what I thought were free Americans. What year is it again? If the Republican Tea Party truly wants smaller government, they should stop trying to control women, their bodies and or change laws for the sake of that “family values” platform that is definitely the epitome of big government and an invasion of privacy.
The right seems to be aligning their demands for stricter abortion laws one state at a time. I cannot be the only one tired of the “Do as we say Not as we do Political Party of NO. It has my blood boiling. Now, Tea publicans running for President and some media folks are saying it is time to move on from nasty politics. I say if you want to become President of the US of A give Americans full disclosure. Women need to know if you support unnecessary procedures like a transvaginal scope … Yet; the same people accuse President Obama of withholding information from the public or being un-American get offended when asked to provide personal information. We are their constituents; we all deserve to know how these people will vote on issues of religion, race, gender, and or abortion. The beliefs of members of Congress dictate to how the vote will affect our constitutional rights. If you were listening, for three years conservative politicians, some conservadems ramping up of vitriolic “family values” rhetoric pushing the discussion of women’s rights, religion, race and gender preference up to the surface to rile their base. It is obvious now that Republican Governors had a plan to take the rhetoric a step further by passing anti-abortion legislation all over the country in fact as stated by NWLC – “Ninety-two. That’s the number of anti-abortion measures passed into law across the U.S. in 2011. In addition, in case you are wondering, yes, that is a record — in fact; it is over 2.5 times the previous record. “
Bad enough that in the year 2014, Women must continue to fight for our rights let alone safe affordable access to reproductive health care. Now, as we move into 2015 with the 114th Congress controlled by Republicans who decided to vote on a right to reproductive rights on the anniversary of Roe V Wade. I can’t write what I am thinking about this right now. This is incredible since there are more female members of Congress, approximately 101, yes, mostly tea party members who say they are fiscally conservative, want less government in their (our) lives. Yet, topics like abortion, stem cell research/experiments and religious freedom have them not just flustered but have their undies in a bunch about abortion funding and seem to be moving to have abortion outlawed altogether if possible. I could not vote for a woman who feels I am not qualified, mature enough or have no right to choose no matter what side of the political aisle they sit. The fact is, women who choose to have an abortion, do so with trepidation not just because they are heartless but out of viable options or the fetus is not viable or at risk or both mom and fetus are at risk and FYI the decision is discussed with a counselor/doctor. The choice to have an abortion is not an easy one and offering a safe procedure is better than having a woman or women desperate enough to take actions that could put her life at risk- is moral …it’s the right thing to do. The idea that any member of Congress would want to control a woman’s body is ludicrous at best and again, the epitome of BIG Government because they should accept The Hyde – Amendment as the law. It makes me want to scream hey, stay out of our lives we are in the 21st Century. The Tea publican ideology clearly barbaric; spews old school dogma and not only crosses the line, has solidified a need, a call for an unprecedented effort for a grassroots movement to keep our Democracy safe
If you live under a Republican controlled State and need or know someone in need of safe affordable healthcare with limited funds, your life has got to be beyond difficult. Now, imagine the impact that repealing, replacing and eliminating access would have on ALL our families, friend’s or co-workers. Let alone the idea that some Republicans want to go back to a time when women and people of colour had no rights; seen but not heard and yes it sounds silly but before you laugh, take some time and listen to Tea publicans running for office closely.
Just when I thought we were all moving into the 21st century … sigh
Resource : wiki on 1) 1
So, why did I go to urban dictionary for the definition of Feminism?
I got my Cosmo in the mail and while the fashions are fun some gaudy others worthy of a second look or two most are out of my price and age range, but when I see hair and beauty products well now that is a whole different response entirely. As I was thumbing through one of many magazines, which is another bad habit, an article about feminism popped up and yes folks are questioning Beyoncé among others with headlines such as … “Can you be Sexy and a Feminist” or as Cosmo asks, “Can you be a Sexy Feminist? It was a quick read and in all honesty I don’t spend a whole lot of my time dissecting labels, but I will say that being a feminist used to be defined as a woman who didn’t appreciate men some said they despised them. We were advised to always question the roles of men & women, demanded equal access to education, suggested being a companion forget about being happily married least we acquiesce simply because we are women. I don’t subscribe to hating on men, I like men on several levels, that includes my dad, my kids father, my son and a couple of boss’ who happened to be male. As a side note on a political level, Republican men are the bane of our existence in my opinion. When it comes to being a participant, I have to admit, I too, have danced to fabulous music with either or both having misogynistic and chauvinistic words. It’s definitely not something I used to think about while dancing, but I have gotten upset when it became clear what is being said; generally this kind of talk would get a whole different response if these words were being exchanged through a conversation. However, it does appear that the word feminism and or being a feminist in this 21st society is ever changing ever evolving to being about a belief in equality and the rights of everyone in all its forms and genders. I see urban dictionary as being a place not only run by a younger group of folks but who use it and research the “stuff” they post. As you read on, Cosmo asked stars like lady gaga, lana del rey and taylor swift just to name a few, but when Pharrell was asked he stated, “I don’t think it’s possible for me to be (a feminist). I’m a man, but I do support feminists.”
Anyway, an article worth reading in Cosmo September 2014 ~~ Nativegrl77
What do you think? Is being a feminist gender specific?