The Dred Scott Case

An important constitutional question was whether the Congress had the power to regulate slavery in the territories.  For decades, this power was a given, as the Missouri Compromise line demonstrated.  Some Southerners however, led by John C. Calhoun, argued that those who owned property in the form of slaves had rights which had to be maintained and that no such lines could be constitutional.  The Supreme Court settled this argument for a time with its ruling in the case known as Dred Scott v Sandford.




FINDING SOURCES-Dred Scott and the origins of the Civil Rights Movement

  • What was nullification and what did it have to do with the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions?
  • Who was responsible for introducing the idea of nullification into the conflict that existed between the Federal Government and the States?
  • How was the Constitution used to defend the rights of property owners in the Dred Scott case?
  • What role did Justice Taney play in the case?  Would he be considered an "activist" judge by today's standards? What is an "activist" judge?
  • Why was the immediate effect of the Dred Scott ruling on the United States?