Dred Scott & The Supreme Court

Today in History, March 6, 1857:

The Dredd Scott Decision.

Dredd Scott was a slave whose owner had traveled and lived in “free states” and had promised him his freedom. When his owner died, Scott sued for his freedom, because he had lived in “free” states.

The case worked it’s way up the chain to the Supreme Court, which at that time was loaded with Southerners.

Chief Justice Roger Taney wrote the majority opinion that declared that no slave could possibly be a citizen, therefore they had no standing to sue. Also that the Federal Government had no right to regulate slavery in the states and territories.

Obviously a biased, politically motivated opinion, the decision, in part, led to the horrific, devastating American Civil War.

So our lesson is complex. The Supreme Court, while our highest court, is not infallible. It’s bad decisions lead to horrific consequences for the nation. It DOES make political decisions. And this theory does not end with Dredd Scott.

A Disloyal Daughter…For a Reason

Today in History, March 6: 1967 – A Russian woman walks into the US Embassy in New Delhi, India and requests asylum in the United States. The US Ambassador weighs her request and decides to grant it. The woman had been in a relationship with an Indian man that she met in a Moscow hospital, but the Soviet government had denied them the ability to marry. When he died she had been given the privilege of taking his ashes to his family in India. The woman, Svetlana Alliluyeva, had lost her father in 1952. Upon her arrival in New York City in April, she held a news conference to denounce her father, Josef Stalin, his regime and the Soviet government. Svetlana’s mother had committed suicide to escape her father’s abuse (although it was rumored that he killed her), Svetlana’s first husband had been arrested and sent to a gulag for 10 years. She had left her adult children in the USSR, would go on to marry a protege of Frank Lloyd Wright, then would move to England, back to the Soviet Union, and finally, back to America. She passed away in Wisconsin in 2011.