tv Lectures in History Lincoln Slavery the Dred Scott Case CSPAN July 14, 2020 9:09am-10:29am EDT
c-span has unfiltered coverage of public policy events, you can watch all of c-span's public affairs programming on television. or through our social media feeds. c-span, created by america's cable television companies as a public service and brought to you today by your television provider. up next on lectures and history, gettysburg college professor allen guelzo teaches a class on abraham lincoln, his views on slavery, and the dred scott supreme court decision. his class is about 50 minutes. >> welcome, once again, to civil war era studies 205, production to the american civil
we are now in our third week in this course, and my what ground we have covered thus far. we have more to cover today, because we are coming up to the 1850s now. we are talking about the crises of the 1850s that really begin with the compromise of 1850 that moved 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 this entire course, and that is abraham lincoln. now we touched very briefly in our 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 the 12th of february. his parents are thomas and nancy hanks lincoln, and lincoln himself was born in hodgenville,
kentucky, in a log cabin, yes, quite literally. he doesn't stay in kentucky. in 1818, his parents uproot from kentucky and move northwards across the ohio river into southern indiana. that is where lincoln grows up. 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. now in -- what is almost an inversion of the old hansel and gretel story of the wicked stepmother is actually something of the reverse for abraham lincoln, because sarah bush johnston really becomes his mother fully as much as a mother could be. she and her stepson abraham, they were copacetic, something that cannot be said about lincoln's relationship with his father, thomas.
where the relationship was in fact a good deal more tense. lincoln would once described his father as being the sort of man who could bunglingly sign his own name. that wasn't a compliment. they are two different qualities. 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, decides that he is going to strike out on his own. and the home that he strikes out upon has very little in common with the life of thomas lincoln. thomas lincoln was content to be a farmer, a jacksonian, if there ever was a jacksonian. but the young abraham lincoln has other dreams. he has no use whatsoever for the
agrarian life. he goes into some short-lived business in new salem, not that it succeeds, not that it prospers, but he keeps trying at until finally he gets himself elected to the illinois state legislature in 1834, and he will serve four terms in the 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 andrew jackson, what abraham lincoln embraces is the entire whig ethos of self transformation. of henry clay's america -- henry clay will be for lincoln what lincoln called his beau-ideal of a statesman, and he is much more suspicious and
in what he has to say about andrew jackson. it is not entirely a matter of applause. so the words we looked at last time, where lincoln is talking about how they labor for a while, saves a surplus with which to buy tools or land for himself, then labors on his own and then at length hires a new beginner to help him. this is his free labor. that is the system. that is the whiggish system of self transformation, self-improvement, free labor. the just and generous and prosperous system that opens the way to all, gives hope to all and improvement of condition to all. if one continued in condition of higher labor, it's not a fault of the system, but because of
either a dependent nature which returns it or in providence folly or similar misfortune, there is -- and this is lincoln affirming not only the principles of free labor and whiggish self-transformation, but this is also the way lincoln draws his contrast with slavery. there is no permanent class of hired laborers amongst us, or at least there isn't in the north. remember james henry hammond defending slavery on the grounds that every society requires a mudsill class to perform all of the mudsill duties, and said hammond, wasn't it the genius of the south that it had discover a specific group of people that would perform those mudsill duties and nothing but for the entirety of their lives, which were black slaves. by contrast, lincoln says there
is no permanent class of hired laborers amongst us. there is no mudsill class. 25 years ago, i was a hired laborer. i was one of those mudsills, but the hired labor of yesterday labors on his own account and will hire others to labor for him tomorrow. advancement, improvement in 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 and which james henry hammond would be very disturbed to find a mudsill class aspiring to. people are surprised when they see this image. this is actually the first photograph of abraham lincoln. it doesn't quite look like the
fella we meet on the $5 bill. it is a gregario type taken in about 1846, and in this lincoln does not look like somebody fresh off his father's farm. that's because by 1846, he wasn't. when he goes off to the legislature in 1834, he also carries with him the desire for advancement and the way to advancement for lincoln is to study law. and so he becomes a lawyer, 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 during the services rendered during the black hawk war of 1832. that was where stewart and lincoln 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 herndon, who will over the years to come 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 judicial circuit, which is mostly central illinois. at its apex, it is 14 counties in central illinois, including the capital springfield where lincoln lives. his law practice is overwhelmingly civil law. only about 5% of lincoln's cases over the years touched on criminal matters.
he is mostly a civil lawyer. practicing civil law. he does wills and estates, he trespass and assumption, and he does collections. in fact, he does a lot of collections. 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, so it is a very broadly based practice, and it is one that keeps him very busy. in his busiest year, 1853, lincoln has over 300 cases for which he is responsible. that is a lot. he is not only a civil lawyer, he is a trial lawyer. he is not one of these lawyers who sits in an office and reads
moves papers from the inbox the outbox. he specializes in working in front of juries, convincing injuries, 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 pretty much layout with the law is and juries measure if the case measures up to that. in lincoln's day, juries could buck directions given by judges are interpreting statutes or applying statutes. so that was a challenge for lincoln in appearing before these juries. he not only had to make a case, but he also had to make a theory behind the case for the benefit
of the jury that he was talking to. the other thing about these juries is, these are not carefully selected, carefully screened juries. in these little county courthouses through central illinois, a jury could as often as not be selected from whoever the spectators were standing in the back of the courtroom. that meant that lincoln had to learn how to communicate the clearest and most basic level. and he had to do it swiftly, convincingly, or he would soon be out of business. but on the other hand, daunting as that might be, as a trial lawyer, this is extremely good training for someone who will later on politically speaking have to be someone who specializes in convincing people of big arguments. so a lot of what makes lincoln such a great speaker, such a great writer, with such a
tremendous capacity to convince people very logical, a lot of that grows out of his experience as a trial lawyer on the 8th judicial skcircuit, 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. he is sometimes taking in fees as high as $5,000 for a particular case, and in those days, $5,000 is a lot of money. a middle-class income in the middle 1850s would be, perhaps walt whitman estimated, $1000 a year.
lincoln can pull in $5,000 for one case. so he's doing well economically, also doing well socially. in 1842, he marries mary todd. now if you notice, john todd stewart and mary todd lincoln -- yes, they are related. they're cousins. that is how mary todd comes to springfield, she's coming from her home in lexington, kentucky, visiting springfield, and that is where she meets lincoln. 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, the big nose, the high hollow cheekbones, and although the collar -- his neck reminded you of a -- when he stood up, suddenly watching him standup was like watching a jackknife unfold. he was awkward. he spoke with a peculiar accent, very high-pitched, twangy, border state kind of accent, and he did not sound elegant. elegant was a word you use most about mary todd. most of her todd relatives did not understand what it was she saw in lincoln and tried to talk
her out of the match. but she did see things others did not, and so they were married in 1842. this is a big social step 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 economic terms and in social terms, but that does not mean that he is always the happiest and most contented of people. to the contrary, there is a streak of melancholy, of depression in lincoln he called the hypo, which could sometimes just cover him in gloom. to meet lincoln is to meet a complex, complicated person. kellyanne. >> do you think mary todd was
just after his money? >> no, because in truth, her family was wealthier than he was. her father was a very prominent merchant in kentucky. they are actually much more well off than lincoln. now of course lincoln is coming up, but again people would w wond wonder, what does she see in this man lincoln? not enough of it to be a really compelling argument. not a gold digger argument. she sees qualities and him that others at first don't. most of the time when they met lincoln, what they thought they were meeting as one illinois acquaintance described it, when you met lincoln for the first time, it was like meeting a rough, intelligent farmer. and that of course could easily make you underestimate him. he made jokes about his own
looks. and why shouldn't he? if he didn't, someone else would, so he would be them to the punch. a photographer said, as photographers will, just look natural. lincoln's reply was, that is what i am trying to avoid. on another occasion he told a joke about a man riding through the forest on the path and coming from the other direction on the path, a woman on a horse who stops and stares at him. very rude thing to do. he says, madam, what are you staring at? she says, you are 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, but also intended to induce people to think here was a simple man.
but one of his legal associates, leonard sweat made the most perceptive comment about lincoln. if anyone took a lincoln lincoln mended man would find his back in a ditch. he used people 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 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'm naturally anti-slavery, if slavery is not wrong nothing is wrong. something being opposed to slavely did not turn him into an abolitionist. in 1937, sitting in the state legislature, he joined with another whig representative 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. he is anti-slavery, he's just not what you call an activist on the subject. that is until 1854. the reason he is not an activist on the subject is because 1854, he is convinced that slavery is a dying system which is on its own 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 the system and represented the intentions of founders who believed
they had put slavery on the road to extinction. it would happen gradually, it would happen painlessly, but it would happen. it would be inevitable. the second thing is 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 the slavery will represents, as tobacco did in the 18th century, wear out the soil, and when is uneconomical, 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 is simply a process, and we
will let this process unfold. so he is anti-slavery, but he doesn't feel any need to take active measures against slavery because he believes it is inevitable. it is going to die out on its own. it is a system doomed by its own logic to fade away. that was no longer a tenable notion after the kansas-nebraska act. the kansas-nebraska act, by opening up the vast stretches of the louisiana purchase to the possibility of legalized slavery through stephen douglass' doctrine of slavery, suddenly that was like a blinding flash
of lightning. suddenly slavery was no longer going to be confined to the southern states, it was no longer to asphyxiate on its own. to the contrary the kansa 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 cession, and then it was going to turn back to the free states of the north and legalize slavery there. that was why the kansas-nebraska act was such a shock. that's why we get salmon chase and the appeal of the independent democrats. as we get charles sumner and the crime against kansas.
we get bleeding kansas. lincoln testifies to this. the nebraska bill astounded us. we are thunderstruck and stunned, and we reeled and fell into utter confusion, but we rose. each fighting, grasping at every reach, a pitchfork, a chopping ax or a butchers cleaver. not literally. but rhetorically and politically, yes. just as the anthony burns' rendition had put him of florence into the position one night we went to bed old, compromised whigs and waked up the next morning, stark raving mad abolitionists, the nebraska bill had something of the same effect on lincoln.
he wakes up, slavery not going away on its own. it will not go peacefully. it will 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 the public opponent and critic of slavery and slavery extension. he goes public for the first time in october of 1854 in a lengthy speech that he gives in peoria, illinois, which is in some respects one of the greatest speeches lincoln ever gives. there are other speeches of lincoln's which are more eloquent, like the greettysburg address of course, but in terms of offering a comprehensive view of the most important questions of the day, nothing, nothing beats the peoria speech. on october 16, 1854, in it
lincoln 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 act did in fact repeal the missouri compromise. the repeal of the missouri compromise is wrong, 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 if people want it in the western territories. after all, stephen'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 paralyze congress, the executive and the judiciary. the federal government's got the people's business to do. it does not need to be sitting around all day and arguing about slavely. that slavery out into the territories and let the people there decide for themselves if they want to have slavery. all right, fine. if they don't want to have slavery, that is fine too. but the goal is get the question out of washington. let the people out there settle it. what douglass is saying, he doesn't really care, whether slavery gets legalized or not legalized, so long as it's not having a bad effect on the country as a whole. so long as it is not paralyzing the country economically and it's just annoying.
so get it to a place where it's not going to be annoying, at least not to the rest of the country. but it's exactly this that lincoln hones in on, lincoln isn't content to criticize kansas-nebraska because it's a repeal of the missouri co compromi compromise. there is something wrong. this thing that's wrong is the business of indifference about slave slavery. the only reason 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 they've been persuaded by stephen douglass to be indifferent on
the subject of slavery. it's this declared indifference that's the real problem. that's what leads people to embrace the repeal. this declared indifference. but as i must think, covert real deal for the spread of slavery. oh, yes, douglass will tell you -- i'm just putting the question out there to the voters. lincoln says, yes, right. this declared indifference, or covert real deal for the spread of slavery. i hate it because of the injustice of slavery itself. so right away the thing that lincoln is critiquing here, great problem with the kansas-nebraska bill not simply it repeels the missouri compromise it cultivates an
attitude of indifference to something that's a monstrous indifference. i hate it because of the monstrous injustice of slavery itself. and i hate it because it deprives our republican example of its just influence in the world. what's the united states? the united states is a republic. a republic -- an island of republican practice in a sea of mon ar keys and dictatorships. what kind of example do we think we're setting as a republic if we tolerate slavery, in fact, encourage its growth. what are we saying about the very idea most precious to all of us, the idea of republican government in which all men are created equal and people are sovereign. 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? at least the monarchs are consistent, give them credit. he says i'm the king, you do what i say. you jump when i say and ask how high on the way up. there's no attempt by a king to put a sugarcoating around monarchy, here we are as a republic, we are supposed to be enunciating this enlightenment principle. of the sovereignty of the people, and what are we doing? contradicting it completely. maybe we should go back to being monarchs and have a king. that would be more consistent.
no, it deprives our republican example of its just influence in the world. with plausibility to taunt us as hypocrites. causes the real friends of freedom to doubt our sincerity, 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. southern slaveholders, very good men, he knows them. he was born in kentucky and his wife was born in kentucky and his wife's family owns slaves. his beau ideal of a statesman, henry clay owned slaves. he's not saying the problem is some kind of demonic possession
of southerners. these southerners are americans like ourselves. they profess republican principle. the problem is, in defending slavery it turns them inside-out. it puts them into open war with the very fundamental principle of civil liberty. criticizing the declaration of independence and insisting there's not right principle of action than self-interest. remember james henry hammond and the mudsills. the doctrine, lincoln says, the doctrine of self-government is right. absolutely and eternally right and that was part of the strategy of stephen douglass, let's let popular sovereignty solve the problem. that sounds like
self-government? that is democracy, let the people on the ground make the choices, right? the doctrine of self-government is right. but it has no just application. perhaps i should rather say, that whether it has such a application depends on whether a negro is not or is a man. if the negro is a man, isn't it a total destruction of self-government? talk about popular sovereignties. and self-government. and then you take a whole category of people and you exclude them from governing themselves. that is not really self-government, that is a fraud, that's a bad imitation of self-government. you know what the problem is lincoln says, not just
stephen a douglas is a covert politician, the problem is our republican road was soiled. what he's saying here is we all got our hands in the toilet. our republican road is soiled. we have allowed it to become soiled. but the fundamental thing we have to do here is to turn and wash it white in the spirit of the revolution. let us turn slavery from its claims of moral right. back upon its existing legal rights and its arguments of necessity. which is to say the only reason we tolerate slavery is the same reason we tolerate the founders
did. because it was there and it has certain legal guarantees. let us return to the position our fathers gave it, let it rest in peace, r.i.p. let's us re-adopt the declaration of independences and with it the policies in it. let the north and south, let all americans join in the great and good work. if we do this, we shall not only have saved the union, but we have saved it as to keep it forever worthy of the saving. so saved it that the happy people the world over shall rise up and call us blessed for the latest generations. our task is not just about the missouri compromise, kansas-nebraska, it's not about
popular sovereignty, it's about the whole american project. that's what's at stake here. what is at stake here is not whether james kenneth can take their slaves with them into kansas, because they might be nice people but what's at stake here is the entire project. of self-government, sovereignty of the people. and ian and kenneth might be nice guys, but they realize or not they called into questions the fundamental principles of the government. if we start there, we will work our way back and everything else will sort it out and we will be rid of slavery. but we have to start there at that fundamental level.
that was what lincoln wanted to do. the question was whether he would 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. emerson was a contract surgeon for the united states army and part 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 going to be about six months to eight months in any location before moving on. he is stationed first at fort armstrong in illinois. then he is moved to minnesota while minnesota was still a territory. dr. emerson marries eliza sanford. alas however he dies in 1843. and dred scott, after the death of dr. emerson, dred scott sues for his freedom. in the year 1846. eliza sanford transfers 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. state courts in missouri. why? why do you think he would do that? quinn? look at fort armstrong. it's in illinois. what is illinois? illinois is a free state. now, mind you there are what we call transit laws. transit laws permitted slave holders if they have to journey or live for a short period of time in illinois to do so without jeopardizing title to their slaves. but emerson was doing more than a quick pass through illinois while stationed at fort armstrong. even more so fort sneling is in
the minnesota territory. what is the minnesota territory as a territory governed by? what's the statute? no, the northwest ordinance 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 moved to fort sneling 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's in minnesota, right? all right, that's the logic of it. so that's the basis. he goes into the missouri courts
and sues for his freedom. if scott had entered this suit 10 or 15 years before he would probably have been freed by the missouri courts. it was a good solid plea. and it 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. times are not now as they were when the former decisions on this subject remain. since then not only individuals what states have been possessed with a dark spirit in relation to slavery. gratification is sought in pursuit of measures whose inevable 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 confidence to any measure. she's willing to assume her full responsibility to the existence of slavery inn within her limits nor does she seek to share or divide it with others. so the answer from the supreme court to dred scott is nope, too bad. you stay a slave. but there's a complication here. because after all in moving to illinois and moving to minnesota scott has crossed boundaries. this becomes more than just a state affair. this now moves into federal jurisdiction and so now scott is going to appeal in 1854 to the federal courts, and of course
the ultimate court of appeals in the federal system the united states supreme court. and his freedom suit comes to the united states supreme court as dred scott vs. sandrud. what is the supreme court going to do with this? you have to think what governmental body passed the northwest ordinance? >> was it the british? >> no. lexi? >> the confederation? >> the confederation of
congress. so the assumption is congress has the 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 or nebraska. okay? congress does that. congress adopts the kansas-nebraska act. so the assumption from the northwest ordinance all the way up to the kansas-#act is that the united states congress is vested with the authority to make determinations about the status of slavery in the territories. i mean, no matter what decision it makes the northwest ordinance was no slavery, kansas-#it's, well, slavery if you can get a popular majority. but it's congress that's passing the legislation. it's cross which has the authority to oversee. that's about to change.
boy, is that about to change. and it changes because of this gentleman here. the chief justice of the united states of america roger brooke taney, appointed to the supreme court by andrew jackson. he had been a faithful, a secretary of the treasury. in fact, when jackson made his war upon the bank of the united states the hatchet man so to speak with roger brooke taney. jackson appoints taney to the supreme court to succeed the famous john marshall. for more than 20 years taney had been chief justice of the united states supreme court. it is to tanaey's court that the dred scott case comes, he's
argued and heard and on merchandimarch 6, 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 a slave because he has no standing to sue in federal court. it's a question of jurisdiction. this is a technicality but it's an important technicality. taney writes, the question before us is whether the class of persons described in the plea and abatement compose a portion of his people. 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 there claim none of the rights and privileges. 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 the constitution for this country for white people who are free. 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.
taney might have stopped right there and simply made this a question of jurisdiction, a way of saying i've just found a reasoning wr reasoning whereby i won't have to put my hand further in this mess. this is an example of sep, remember those three great initials, somebody else's problem. this is what taney says, black people are somebody else's problem, in this case the states. don't bother the federal courts, though. but taney wasn't content to stop there. oh, no. he has to also provide an opinion based upon popular sa b sovereignty and due process. notice 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 could therefore claim none of it rights and privileges which that instrument provides for and secures to the citizens of the united states. look at the word rights and privileges. if rights and privileges don't belong to dred scott, that means they do belong to citizens. so what are these 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 mere colonists dependent upon the will of the general government and tee governed by any laws it may think proper to impose. an act of congress which deprives a citizen of the united states of his liberty or poverty because he came himself or brought his property into the
particular territory of the united states -- every citizen is entitled to due process of law. so if you want to take your property into the kansas territo territory you should be entitled to do it. as a citizen you have certain privileges and immunities, and you cannot be deprived of those privileges and immunities without due process of law. congress can't simply pass a statute that says mccrackin' if you own a dapple horse, no dapple horses may be taken into kansas. now, low look at that and say are you people in congress nuts? this horse is my property. i want to take it with my other property, my pigs, my cats, my
goats. i want to take that with me to kansas. now, congress might pass a statute, but that's going to go to the courts because you're going to sue in federal court and you're going to say i want due process 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. due process of law. everybody gets the same process of law applied to them. transfer that to slave property, if you ian james own a slave and you want to go into the kansas territory it is an act of arbitrary tyranny for congress to say to you you can take your cat, you can take your pig, you can take your goat, you can take your horse but you can't take
your slave. because one is as much property under law as the other. why should you as a citizen of the united states be told you cannot bring that slave into the kansas territory? you see what taney is doing here. taney is using the idea of due process to ebloup the doctrine of sovereign property. he's 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 does popular sovereignty teach, well if you ian james 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 kansas to agree with you and legalize slavery in kansas. suppose, however, that 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 our popular sovereignty and forbid 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 going to immediately expose that as an arbitrary piece of legislation. so what is taney saying here? there is now no restraint, not even the restraint of popular sovereignty while taking slaves into territories. ian wants to take his slave with him to kansas. everyone else in kansas might reprobate what ian is doing but legally speaking as a citizen of the united states of a u.s. territory no one can take that
away from him anymore than they can take away his pig or 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 territories to pieces. there is now no restraint on the expansion of slavery into the territories. now, if you thought -- zachary, if you thought back in 1854 that the kansas-nebraska act was a problem 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
compare today 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 fourth of march, 1857, just two days before the dred scott decision is handed down and he rejoices in it 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. slavery can pass a statute, can't do this, that, can't do the other.
out of the slavey business therefore no reason for anymore controversy over slavery. almost. because remember the kansas territory is still bleeding. pro slavery sources in kansas took a leaf out of buchanan's book at this point and assembled their own prostate constitution and 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 la compton constitution is sent to the united states congress so the 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 la compton constitution adopted more than james buchanan. and he gets his way at first. the senate of the united states adopts the la compton constitution. but there buchanan starts to lose traction because now the la compton constitution has to go to the house of representatives. and to the house of representatives the la compton
constitution fails of approval, 120-112. 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 la compton constitution was adopted by the pro-slaveryites en in la compton without a single slavery vote for the anti- in the rest of the state. so the english bill proposes to send the la 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. that makes buchanan politically vulnerab vulnerable. and if there's one person in a good position to take account of buchanan's political ability it is stephen a. douglas, a senator from illinois. douglas had pegged his
credibility, he had pegged his career, he had pegged his ambitions one day to become the president of the united states to the doctrine of solveravrent. now it appeared the dred scott decision had exploded popular sovereignty. oh, wait, said douglas. wait a minute, not so fast. in a given territory let's say ian takes his slave to kansas. when he arrives in kansas with his slave they look around and say this is kansas, where toto, okay? and they're looking around and he says where's kansas. now, at that point ian's slave says yes kansas is nice but you know something what's over to the state to the territorial border to the north is better and so he runs away. at this point ian says all right call in the marshal and a34r50i
the law for fugitives. wait a minute, there is no law in the books here. douglas says that illustrates a point. in theory -- in theory we may have to agree with chief justice taney. that in kansas and nebraska you're going to have to recognize that slavery can be taken there. however, nobody in those territories is obliged to pass, to adopt, to implement the police measures necessary to enforce slavery. so douglas, reasons, all that a territory has to do to go back to exercising popular sovereignty is refuse to enact the police regulations that support slavery. because if the state legislator refuses to do that no owner in
their right mind is going to take their slave to that place. the president of the united states versus the most powerful senator in the senate. those are the same political party as democrats. and when douglas comes to call 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. douglas, 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. then he added beware of the fate of talmous and reaves. i arose and said, mr. president, i wish you'd remember that general jackson is dead, sir. which is the 1850s equivalent of saying i knew andrew jackson, you're no andrew jackson. unfortunately for stephen a. douglas he's coming up for re-election in 1858. and if james buchanan decides to take revenge by undercutting
douglas' bid for re-election, then douglas, kind suddenly find himself a man without a job and a politician without a future. of course douglas 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 lincoln. this is not because lincoln is the famous abraham lincoln. this is because abraham lincoln is a prominent former wig lawyer who's now joined the republican party as of 1856 and because no other republican is really interested in breaking their
teeth trying to challenge stephen a. douglas. so it's very much oa case of we know we're not going to win this election so let's nominate lincoln because no one 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 douglas. lincoln was spoiled for a fight. the state republican convention convenes in springfield, illinois, in mid-june of 1858. they endorse lincoln to the united states senate. they can only endorse him because before 1912 senators are
selected by the state legislators. they're not populary elected. strictly speaking no one is nominating -- since it is the state legislator also up for election in 1858 everyone knows that a vote cast for a republican member of the state legislator is equivalent of a vote cast for lincoln. every vote cast for a democratic member of the state ledgeshirt is eventually a vote cast for the senate because he's 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 stands up at the diocese in the hall of representatives at the old state capitol in springfield. what a place to stand. today there right on that place and looked at the gallery and the seatings on the floor and the old state capitol. and oh, how the images run through your mind. you're standing in the same place as lincoln stood. and he delivers an acceptance speech which just blows people away. an acceptance speech known as "the house divided speech." if we could first know where we are politically speaking and whether 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 getter judge what to do and how to do it. all right, says lincoln, i'm going to tell you where we are and the dlekz in which we're tending and it's not pretty. we are now far into the fifth year, right, do some substraction. he's talking about kansas, nebraska. we are now far into the fifth year since a pall also was initiated with the avowed object in putting an end to that agitation. that agitation has not ceased but is constantly augmented. exhibit a, bleeding kansas. you, the kansas-nebraska bill really did a lot of good in
kansas, didn't it? oh, yeah, kansas-nebraska, really brought peace, didn't they? in my opinion, it will not cease until a crisis. until a crisis shall have been reached and passed. why? because a house divided cannot stand. the real issue here is not the political disposition of the kansas territory or the la compton constitution. the real issue is the question of slavery and freedom. lincoln wants to take you back to principles. let me tell you what really is 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 don't expect the house to fall but dl it will be one thing or the other. what he believed up until kansas nebraska or its advocates shall push it forward until it becomes alike in all the states old as well as new, north as well as south. that's where we are tending. this then begins the great political campaign which takes its most visible shape in the series of seven debates, which means abraham lincoln and steven
a. douglas, which means august and october of 1858. douglas' strategy is to play the race card. abraham lincoln opposes slavery. you know what that means, douglas says? that means he wants to free all the slaves and when he frees all the slaves all the slaves are going to come in here and they're going to mix in your society and take your jobs, and they're going to marry your daughters and that will be just bad. and lincoln had a hard time fending his off. i agree with judge douglas that he is not my equal in many respects certainly not in color, perhaps not in intellectual endowment, but in the right, the natural right which trumps all civic legislation, in the right
to eat the bread with his own hands earned he is my equal and judge douglas' equal and the equal of every living man. that may not sound like a dramatic statement to our ears in the 20th century but in 1858 a lot of nervous republicans believed that he was playing right into douglas' race card. but douglas has got problems of his own. is it really the case, lincoln asks, sf really the case that under the heading of negative popular sovereignty the people of a territory with can ban slavery? you really think so, mr. douglas? if he says, no, i don't really
believe that every northerner will vote against him. but if he says i do believe slavery can be excluded by negative popular sovereignty he's going to lose every democratic governor in the south. i answer emphatically but in my opinion the people of a territory can by lawful means exclude slavery from their hi s limits prior to the signing of a constitution. with that douglas had slit his throat from any future support of seven democrats. it matters not way the supreme court may hereafter decide the people have lawful way to exclude it as they please that
it cannot exist an hour or day anywhere unless supported by regulations. once again, he says the real issue, the real issue, lincoln says between judge douglas 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 continue to struggle. it is the same spirit that says you toil, earn and work and earn bread and i'll eat it. whether from a the mug of a king who seeks to bestride or as from
one race enslaving another race it is the same tyrannical principle. lincoln lost the election not because he wasn't convincing or get votes but because the legislative apportionment favored down state democratic voters more heavily than midstate and up state republican voters, and so douglas is re-elected. but lincolns words have made 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? wheeded stiven a. douglas in his own den?
it would not be lincoln they would hear from next. oh, no. the next voice could come from our old friend john brown. that's what we will pick up with in our next hour. >> later today a hearing looking at the energy department and its response during the coronavirus pandemic. watch coverage of this house energy hearing online at c-span.org or listen live with the free c-span radio app. >> tonight on american history tv, our series, landmark cases, produced in cooperation with the national constitution center we explore the issues, people and places involved in some of the smoes significant supreme court
cases in our nation's history. we begin with slaughterhouse cases from 1863. and then at 9:30 from 1905 lochner vs. new york, and striking down a state law restricting the number of hours that a baker could work each week. watch landmark cases tonight on c-span 3 and anytime on c-span.org. >> all persons having business before the honorable the supreme court of the united states are admonished to draw near and give their attention. >> land mark cases, c pennsylvania's history series produced in kpaupgz with the national constitution ceer