Did Sanford v. Missouri allow slavery in all states?


Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

matthew mckeon

Colonel
Retired Moderator
Joined
Oct 3, 2005
Messages
13,663
#2
From reading Freedom National by James Oakes:
My understanding is that anti-slavery people argued that the western territories were by default free territory and it took a "positive law" to establish slavery. The pro-slavery people argued that the United States wasn't "Freedom National" but "Slave National", that the federal government or the territorial legislatures themselves couldn't exclude slavery, but the newly organized state had to pass a "positive law" to establish it as a free state.

However, if you accept John C. Calhoun's formulation that slaves were property, and therefore protected by the Constitution everywhere in the United States, even free states couldn't exclude slavery. A lot of this argument revolved around the "right to sojourn" or to "transit" that is, "carry"(love these euphemisms) enslaved people through free states.
 

matthew mckeon

Colonel
Retired Moderator
Joined
Oct 3, 2005
Messages
13,663
#3
From reading Freedom National by James Oakes:
My understanding is that anti-slavery people argued that the western territories were by default free territory and it took a "positive law" to establish slavery. The pro-slavery people argued that the United States wasn't "Freedom National" but "Slave National", that the federal government or the territorial legislatures themselves couldn't exclude slavery, but the newly organized state had to pass a "positive law" to establish it as a free state.

However, if you accept John C. Calhoun's formulation that slaves were property, and therefore protected by the Constitution everywhere in the United States, even free states couldn't exclude slavery. A lot of this argument revolved around the "right to sojourn" or to "transit" that is, "carry"(love these euphemisms) enslaved people through free states.
So when Lincoln said that "a house divided against itself cannot stand" and the United States was destined to become "all slave or all free," this was the context of those remarks.
 

trice

Lt. Colonel
Joined
May 2, 2006
Messages
11,533
#4
Reading Sanford v. Missouri it appears that a slave owner can utilize his slave in any state or Territory of the United States. Not aware of any slave owners who attempted to test the parameters of Sanford not to say they didn't.
@jgoodguy or @trice @OpnCoronet
Any thoughts on this?
Leftyhunter
Back before 1850, it was fairly routine to rule that a slave brought into free territory became free. It was considered automatic in Louisiana that the slave would be declared free around 1840 (when Scott was in Louisiana). In Missouri, it was assumed Dred Scott would be declared free when he filed suit in 1846 -- there had been about ten cases already where that had been the decision. In 1850, the jury trial granted Scott his freedom -- but that was reversed on appeal to the Missouri Supreme Court.

The times were changing. After the Mexican War, "the South" became extremely aggressive in pushing for the protection and expansion of slavery (or at least the people who led "the South" did). There was a movement to reverse earlier positions on freeing slaves just as there was a movement to expand slavery into territory already agreed to be free. This, of course, generated an opposing reaction that strengthened abolitionist actions, raising the heat on a situation that had been simmering a long time.
 
Joined
May 27, 2011
Messages
16,688
Location
los angeles ca
#5
So when Lincoln said that "a house divided against itself cannot stand" and the United States was destined to become "all slave or all free," this was the context of those remarks.
Also for @Copperhead-mi @jgoodguy @trice @OpnCoronet ,
Hypothetically per Sanford v. Missouri and especially based on the opinion of Chief Justice Taney a slave owner had every legal right to transport his slaves to any state and or Territory in the United States and freely utilize his slaves with out interference from state and or local authorities?
Leftyhunter
 

alan polk

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Jun 11, 2012
Messages
2,508
#6
Reading Sanford v. Missouri it appears that a slave owner can utilize his slave in any state or Territory of the United States. Not aware of any slave owners who attempted to test the parameters of Sanford not to say they didn't.
@jgoodguy or @trice @OpnCoronet
Any thoughts on this?
Leftyhunter
I believe the Lemmon Case was set to answer that question, but War came before the US Supreme Court could rule upon it.
 
#7
Justice McClean's dissenting opinion in Scott v. Sanford points out that even though involuntary servitude and slavery are prohibited in the state of Illinois except as punishment for a crime resulting from a court conviction, the state's allowance of a master and his slaves transit is such because it is a right that belongs exclusively to the state.

In Justice Nelson's concurrence with the majority opinion, he points out that the right of a master and his slaves to transit in or through a Free State is not one of the issues in Scott v. Sanford and if it should ever come before the Court, they are "prepared to decide it."

Scott v. Sanford
https://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/60/393#writing-USSC_CR_0060_0393_ZO

edited - added "except as punishment for a crime resulting from a court conviction"
 
Last edited:
Joined
May 27, 2011
Messages
16,688
Location
los angeles ca
#8
I believe the Lemmon Case was set to answer that question, but War came before the US Supreme Court could rule upon it.
The Lennon Case seems at least per the Wikipedia article is solely concerned with the the right to transport slaves through a free state. The slaves in question were not going to work in the state of New York.
Interestingly enough the New York State Supreme Court didn't take Sanford v. Missouri into consideration which should of provided guidance to the NYSC that Mr. Lemmon was well within his right to transport or sojourn slaves via NYC.
Leftyhunter
 

WJC

Brigadier General
Moderator
Thread Medic
Answered the Call for Reinforcements
Joined
Aug 16, 2015
Messages
11,871
#9
Is there a specific reason why the case under discussion is referred to as "Sanford v Missouri"?
 

OpnCoronet

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Feb 23, 2010
Messages
10,357
#12
However, if you accept John C. Calhoun's formulation that slaves were property, and therefore protected by the Constitution everywhere in the United States, even free states couldn't exclude slavery. A lot of this argument revolved around the "right to sojourn" or to "transit" that is, "carry"(love these euphemisms) enslaved people through free states.

That was what I got from reading Taney's decision. That he decided the case on the fact that Scott was property, which was promised in the DoI and codified by the Constitution and as such, was a Federal responsibility to guarantee if the States(or Territories) failed to do so.

I am not sure, but, I seem to remember that Taney mentioned the right of Sojourning as being unlimited in any state.
 

matthew mckeon

Colonel
Retired Moderator
Joined
Oct 3, 2005
Messages
13,663
#13
That was what I got from reading Taney's decision. That he decided the case on the fact that Scott was property, which was promised in the DoI and codified by the Constitution and as such, was a Federal responsibility to guarantee if the States(or Territories) failed to do so.

I am not sure, but, I seem to remember that Taney mentioned the right of Sojourning as being unlimited in any state.
I am not sure about that. I think a state could exclude slavery from its borders, that is enact a "positive law." But free soil people certainly assessed it as a "slave power" threat.
 

OpnCoronet

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Feb 23, 2010
Messages
10,357
#14
I am not sure about that. I think a state could exclude slavery from its borders, that is enact a "positive law." But free soil people certainly assessed it as a "slave power" threat.

Taney's ruling affected only the case of Scott, but, I think we know how Taney and his court would rule, if a case concerning the limiting of the right of sojourning ever came before their Court, given the precedent of Scott v. Sanford.
 

jgoodguy

.
-*- Mime -*-
Joined
Aug 17, 2011
Messages
35,549
Location
Birmingham, Alabama
#15
Also for @Copperhead-mi @jgoodguy @trice @OpnCoronet ,
Hypothetically per Sanford v. Missouri and especially based on the opinion of Chief Justice Taney a slave owner had every legal right to transport his slaves to any state and or Territory in the United States and freely utilize his slaves with out interference from state and or local authorities?
Leftyhunter
Outside of Dred Scott, it appears that no one else was affected by Dred Scott v Sanford. There were rulings by Northern District judges that contracted it. The Civil War intervened and the Lincoln administration simply ignored it. It officially died with the 13th amendment. Dred Scott v Sanford only affected territories. It appears the Taney was looking to enlarge it to the States via Lennon v New York, but the Civil War came and ended that. Both Dred Scott v Sanford and Lennon v New York got implemented into the CSA Constitution and died with the CSA.
 

jgoodguy

.
-*- Mime -*-
Joined
Aug 17, 2011
Messages
35,549
Location
Birmingham, Alabama
#16
Taney's ruling affected only the case of Scott, but, I think we know how Taney and his court would rule, if a case concerning the limiting of the right of sojourning ever came before their Court, given the precedent of Scott v. Sanford.
I agree and IMHO the Taney Court would rule State positive law prohibiting slavery within a State's Territory an unlawful taking of property and thus unconstitutional. Same basic theory as Dred Scott v Sanford.
 

OpnCoronet

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Feb 23, 2010
Messages
10,357
#17
I agree and IMHO the Taney Court would rule State positive law prohibiting slavery within a State's Territory an unlawful taking of property and thus unconstitutional. Same basic theory as Dred Scott v Sanford.


Almost complete victory was within the grasp of Southern States Right advocates.

Even if they did not trust northern States to comply with Federal Law, as interpreted by the Taney Court and the Scott v. Sanford ruling. They could have waited a little longer and see if it was the Free States that seceded.
 

major bill

Colonel
Forum Host
Joined
Aug 25, 2012
Messages
15,401
#18
I think a great way to test the courts in the 1850s would have been for a slave owner to move to a free state and open a business using slave labor from their home state. Then sued when the free state tried to seize his property (his slaves). The Constitution protects his right to own property
 

jgoodguy

.
-*- Mime -*-
Joined
Aug 17, 2011
Messages
35,549
Location
Birmingham, Alabama
#19
I think a great way to test the courts in the 1850s would have been for a slave owner to move to a free state and open a business using slave labor from their home state. Then sued when the free state tried to seize his property (his slaves). The Constitution protects his right to own property
I agree. Dred Scott v Sanford was a test case. Some states limited the time a slave owner could reside with his slaves and the way around it was to rotate a new batch of slaves in.

IMHO Taney and DSvS were one of the political overreaches of the South in the 1850s as they strove to protect slavery by limiting the Free States ability to manage their territory. The result was not protection, but the election of anti-slave politicians.
 

ivanj05

First Sergeant
Joined
Jun 8, 2015
Messages
1,149
#20
I agree and IMHO the Taney Court would rule State positive law prohibiting slavery within a State's Territory an unlawful taking of property and thus unconstitutional. Same basic theory as Dred Scott v Sanford.
I agree that this reading is the natural follow up to the Dred Scott decision, and is most likely what the Court would have ended up saying if it had ruled on the Lemmon case.

What would have been REALLY interesting in that event would be how Northern states with antislavery laws would have responded. My personal feeling is that it would have made the reaction to Dred Scott look tame by comparison.
 



Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!
Top