“(T)hese essays have collectively expanded the context of the case and greatly enriched our understanding of its impact, then and now.… (an) enormously thought-provoking volume.”
Civil War Book Review
“(The Dred Scott Case) conveniently brings together a striking array of important perspectives, both on the nineteenth-century story of Dred Scott itself and on its continuing significance. Scholars and undergraduates alike will find this volume rewarding.”
The Journal of Southern History
In 1846 two slaves, Dred and Harriet Scott, filed petitions for their freedom in the Old Courthouse in St. Louis, Missouri. As the first true civil rights case decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, Dred Scott v. Sandford raised issues that have not been fully resolved despite three amendments to the Constitution and more than a century and a half of litigation.
The Dred Scott Case: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives on Race and Law presents original research and the reflections of the nation’s leading scholars who gathered in St. Louis to mark the 150th anniversary of what was arguably the most infamous decision of the U.S. Supreme Court. The decision, which held that African Americans “had no rights” under the Constitution and that Congress had no authority to alter that, galvanized Americans and thrust the issue of race and law to the center of American politics. This collection of essays revisits the history of the case and its aftermath in American life and law. In a final section, the present-day justices of the Missouri Supreme Court offer their reflections on the process of judging and provide perspective on the misdeeds of their nineteenth-century predecessors who denied the Scotts their freedom.
Contributors: Austin Allen, Adam Arenson, John Baugh, Hon. Duane Benton, Christopher Alan Bracey, Alfred L. Brophy, Paul Finkelman, Louis Gerteis, Mark Graber, Daniel W. Hamilton, Cecil J. Hunt II, David Thomas Konig, Leland Ware, Hon. Michael A. Wolff
David Thomas Konig is a professor of history and a professor of law at Washington University, St. Louis. He is the author or editor of articles, books, and documentary collections on American legal history from the first colonial settlements to the Civil War, including Law and Society in Puritan Massachusetts: Essex County, 1629–1692 and Devising Liberty: Creating and Preserving Freedom in the New American Republic. More info →
Paul Finkelman is an expert on constitutional history, the law of slavery, and the American Civil War. He coedits the Ohio University Press series New Approaches to Midwestern Studies and is the president of Gratz College. More info →
Christopher Alan Bracey is a professor of law at George Washington University in Washington, DC. He is the author of Saviors or Sellouts: The Promise and Peril of Black Conservatism, From Booker T. Washington to Condoleezza Rice. More info →
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The Collected Works of William Howard Taft, Volume VIII
“Liberty under Law” and Selected Supreme Court Opinions
Edited by Francis Graham Lee
William Howard Taft’s presidency (1909-1913), succeeding Theodore Roosevelt’s, was mired in bitter partisan fighting, and Taft sometimes blundered politically. However, this son of Cincinnati assumed his true calling when President Warren G. Harding appointed him to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1921. Taft remains the only person to have served both as president of the United States and as chief justice of the Supreme Court.
Gibbons v. Ogden, Law, and Society in the Early Republic examines a landmark decision in American jurisprudence, the first Supreme Court case to deal with the thorny legal issue of interstate commerce. Decided in 1824, Gibbons v. Ogden arose out of litigation between owners of rival steamboat lines over passenger and freight routes between the neighboring states of New York and New Jersey.
The fifth volume of The Complete Works of William Howard Taft presents two publications Taft wrote as Kent Professor of Constitutional Law at Yale University, the position he assumed in 1913 after he was defeated in his bid for re-election as U.S. president. The first, Popular Government, was prepared for a series of lectures, but was motivated by Taft’s passion over the issue of constitutional interpretation, which had been hotly contested during the campaign.
In the antebellum Midwest, Americans looked to the law, and specifically to the jury, to navigate the uncertain terrain of a rapidly changing society. During this formative era of American law, the jury served as the most visible connector between law and society. Through an analysis of the composition of grand and trial juries and an examination of their courtroom experiences, Stacy Pratt McDermott demonstrates how central the law was for people who lived in Abraham Lincoln’s America.