Thursday, November 08, 2012

Notes from my talk to Knights at St. Ann Coppell November 8, 2012

Dred Scott (born 1795 into slavery –died free September 17, 1858), was an African-American  slave who  unsuccessfully sued for his freedom and that of his wife and their two daughters in the Dred Scott v Sandford case of 1857-"the Dred Scott Decision."
The United States Supreme Court decided 7–2 against Scott. (1857)
Nine Justices-all men-found, that neither he nor any other person of African ancestry could claim citizenship.  Therefore Scott could not bring suit in federal court.
Moreover, Scott's temporary residence outside Missouri did not bring about his emancipation under the Missouri Compromise, which the court ruled unconstitutional as it would improperly deprive Scott's owner of his legal property.
Chief Justice Taney had hoped to settle issues related to slavery and Congressional authority by this decision.
Instead, it aroused outrage and deepened sectional tensions.
President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, and the post-Civil war Amendment"s-13, 14, and 15 finally and forever  nullified the dreadful decision.
On March 6, 1857, Taney ruled that:
Any person descended from Africans, whether slave or free, is not a citizen of the United States, according to the Constitution.  There were free blacks in several of the 13 states when the Constitution was written. Their number increased dramatically in the Upper South in the first two decades after the Revolution; by 1810, fully 10 percent of the populations in the Upper South were free blacks, as numerous slaveholders gave freedom to their slaves in this period, inspired by Revolutionary principles of equality. The Ordinance of 1787 could not confer citizenship or freedom within the Northwest Territory to non-white individuals. The provisions of the Act of 1820, known as the Missouri Compromise, were voided as a legislative act, since the act exceeded the powers of Congress, insofar as it attempted to exclude slavery and impart freedom and citizenship to non-white persons in the northern part of the Louisiana Purchase.
The Court ruled that African Americans had no claim to freedom or citizenship.
 Since they were not citizens, they did not possess the legal standing to bring suit in a federal court.
 As slaves were private property, Congress did not have the power to regulate slavery in the territories and could not revoke a slave owner's rights based on where he lived.
This decision nullified the essence of the Missouri Compromise, which divided territories into jurisdictions either free or slave.
 Speaking for the majority, Taney ruled that because Scott was simply considered the private property of his owners, which he was subject to the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution, prohibiting the taking of property from its owner "without due process".
 Ultimately, the 14th Amendment to the Constitution settled the issue of Black citizenship via Section 1 of that Amendment: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside..."
Having failed to purchase his freedom in 1842, in 1846 Scott filed legal suit in St Louis Circuit Court through the help of a local lawyer. The Scott v. Emerson case was tried in 1847 in St. Louis. The judgment went against Scott, but the judge called for a retrial.
In 1850, a Missouri jury concluded that Scott and his wife should be granted freedom since they had been illegally held as slaves during their extended residence in the free jurisdictions of Illinois and Wisconsin.
Irene Emerson appealed. In 1852, the Missouri Supreme Court struck down the lower court ruling, saying, "Times now are not as they were when the previous decisions on this subject were made."
 They ruled that the precedent of "once free always free" was no longer the case, overturning 28 years of legal precedent.
 They told the Scott's they should have sued for freedom in Wisconsin. Justice Gamble,sharply disagreed with the majority decision and wrote a dissenting opinion. He later became Governor.
The Scott's were returned to their master's wife.
In 1850, Irene Sanford Emerson remarried. Her new husband, Chaffee-Calvin Chaffee, was an abolitionist, who was elected to the US Congress.
Chaffee was married to Irene for seven years-but maintained he was unaware that his wife owned the most prominent slave in the United States until one month before the Supreme Court decision.
 By then it was too late for him to intervene, and Chaffee was harshly criticized for having been married to a slaveholder.  He was able to convince his wife Irene to return Scott to his original owners, the Blow family. The Blow family had relocated to Missouri and become opponents of slavery, granting the Scott's emancipation on May 26, 1857.
Less than three months after the Supreme Court ruling, Scott went to work as a free man as a Porter in St. Louis for nearly 17 months before he died from tuberculosis in September 1858.
 Scott was survived by his wife and his two daughters. Scott was originally interred in Wesleyan Cemetery in St. Louis. When this cemetery was closed nine years later, Taylor Blow transferred Scott's body to a plot in the nearby Catholic cemetery, Calvary Cemetery, which permitted burial of non-Catholic slaves by Catholic owners.
 A local tradition later developed of placing Lincoln pennies on top of Scott's gravestone for good luck.

William Wilberforce (24 August 1759 – 29 July 1833) was an English politician and a leader of the movement to abolish the slavery. In 1785, he became an Evangelical Christian, which resulted in major changes to his lifestyle and a lifelong concern for reform. In 1787 he was persuaded to take on the cause of abolition, and he soon became one of the leading English abolitionists. He worked for twenty-six years until the passage of the Slave Trade Act of 1807.
Wilberforce was convinced of the importance of religion, morality and education.  Wilberforce supported the campaign for the complete abolition of slavery, and continued his involvement to the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833, which abolished slavery in England. Wilberforce died just three days after hearing that the passage of the Act through Parliament was assured. He was buried next to his close friend, William Pitt in Westminster Abbey.
Catholic emancipation was the process of a number of reforms in British Law to remove the many restrictions of Roman Catholics which had been introduced by the Suppression of Catholics and the break with the Holy See in 1534 and did not end till the Emancipation of Catholics in the Catholic Relief Act of 1829—295 years of Governmental Suppression of Catholics in many ways but to specifically hold any public office while not publicly denying the Pope, receiving publicly the Blood in the Church of England and publicly renouncing  transubstantiation in the Roman Catholic mass.

History Tidbits:

Act of Uniformity- the many Test Acts- Catholic penal laws
From the death of King James II -James Stuart in 1701---- January 1766, the Vatican recognized the House of Hanover as lawful rulers of England, Scotland and Ireland, after a gap of 70 years, and thereafter the penal laws started to be dismantled. The most significant measure was the Catholic Relief Act of 1829, which removed the most substantial restrictions on Roman Catholics in England.  In 1792 the Papacy specifically referred to George III as the King of Great Britain and Ireland.
William Wilberforce fought for the Emancipation of Slavery for 46 years. 1787- 1833, his whole political career. Along the way he had a major conversion over another political matter of his day—The Emancipation of Catholics. Originally he was against given Catholics the right to vote and hold public office.   But, for 16 long years he fought for the Emancipation of Catholics and it happened in 1829 with the Catholic Relief Act.

William had 6 children.  Three of the sons became major Churchmen-one, Samuel, an English Bishop of the Church of England.  Two other sons- Henry and his study partner at Oxford-John Henry Newman became Catholics-Newman in 1845, and Henry in 1850. Robert and his best friend Henry Manning became Catholics within 5 years of each other; Henry in 1851 and Robert in 1854.

You know Manning and Newman as:
Cardinal Henry Manning and Saint Cardinal John Henry Newman