i. How did this case help "hasten the arrival of the American Civil War"?
This was due to the fact that the case brought the divides of slavery ever more open in the North and the South. The situation was such that slavery could no longer be tolerated in the North and the Southern states did not want to give it up either so a status quo prevailed and the countries went to war.
ii. On what basis did Scott claim that he should be considered "free"?
Scott was a free man as he was in a Northern state which prohibited slavery. The Fugitive Slave Law offered protection to those slaves who fled Southern states and ended up in Northern ones but the South did not recognize this.
iii. Why had such a suit for freedom worked fourteen years earlier but failed in 1850? (What was different about this case, as opposed to the one fourteen years earlier?)
The case was different as the issue of property was not tackled accordingly and as not actually brought into the discussion. The Dredd Scott case focused much more on the property rights issue.
iv. On what basis was this case heard in federal court? (What was the legal reason for this case being heard in federal court?)
The case was heard in a federal court as it involved two different states with different laws on slavery. The Missouri Compromise was also brought into the equation but Chief Justice Taney rejected this law.
v. Why did most leading politicians believe that the case properly belonged before the Supreme Court?
They believed that this was the case due to the fact that it was the last major arbiter on this all important issue. The Supreme Court with its pro slavery bias was also a good boon for the Southern states in this decision.
vi. How did the anti-slavery dissents in this case work to force a more pro-slavery majority opinion? (What happened to allow Taney to craft a very pro-slavery decision?)
Taney skillfully played on the pro slavery bias in the South regarding property rights in this issue and decision. He focused on property as this was practically the only way in which he could avoid the human issue where slaves were concerned.
vii. Despite all the retinue that surrounds the case, the decision, itself, answered only one legal question did the Supreme Court have jurisdiction in this case. They found that they did not have jurisdiction. How so? (What was the reasoning behind their decision that this case should not be heard before the Supreme Court?)
The law was clear enough that Dredd Scott was a free man however the Supreme Court in its majority decision focused much more on the property rights issue than anything else. It did not focus on the state law which allowed for fugitive slaves to become free men.
viii. Why, according to Taney, was the Missouri Compromise unconstitutional? (What was his legal reasoning for ruling that the Missouri Compromise was illegal?)
Because it impinged on property rights and these were sacrosanct for Taney at least in this context. He also believed that the Missouri Compromise was not a compromise at all but simply focused on the entry of new states Kansas and Nebraska into the Union.
ix. Why did Republicans have an advantage in the court of public opinion during the weeks that followed Taney's decision?
The personal issue of freedom was a popular cause as against the one of property rights as described by Justice Taney. Additionally there was a growing awareness on the issue of slavery and its inhumane conditionality.
a. What made the Lincoln-Douglas Debates, a contest for the Illinois senate seat, a national affair?
It catapulted both personalities onto the national stage and made them both Presidential material. Additionally both candidates showed their mettle on various topics in a way which no other Presidential candidate had done before.
b. Lincoln and Douglas were both moderately opposed to slavery, but for different reasons. What were those reasons?
Lincoln was more humane about the issue while Douglas looked at it more as a legal matter however both still held the view that black men were inferior to whites. Slavery was the dominant topic of the debates.
c. Why was Douglas worried that his comments might upset southerners?
He feared they might see him as an abolitionist which was something that was completely anathema to white Southerners who were obviously crucial to Douglas’ electoral chances as without them he had no chance of getting elected.
d. Why did Lincoln lay a trap for Douglas at Freeport? What did he hope to accomplish?
He attempted to portray Douglas as soft on the slavery issue and hoped to show he was weak kneed on other economic concerns. Lincoln hoped to sow the seeds of doubt in the minds of the electorate on the suitability of Douglas as President of the United States.
e. In what way(s) did both candidates play the "race card"?
Lincoln used slavery to his own ends on the moral issue but he was still lukewarm on certain legal rights for black people. Douglas was also opposed to slavery but his opposition focused more on legal and economic grounds.
f. Lincoln believed that slavery was immoral, but that blacks were inferior to whites. How did he reconcile these two points?
He looked at slavery from the point of view of human beings but still could not agree that blacks should have equal status. He was still of the belief that blacks needed help and assistance from whites to live a decent life.
g. What was the long-term significance of these debates?
That Lincoln won the election of 1860 on the anti slavery platform and this led to the Civil War or the War Between the States. This eventually led to the Emancipation Proclamation and the freedom of all slaves in 1863.
Frederic D. Schwarz "The Dred Scott Decision," American Heritage, February/March 2007.
Maltz, Earl M. (2007). Dred Scott and the politics of slavery. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas. pp. 115. ISBN 0-7006-1502-4.
Armitage, Susan H.; Faragher, John Mack; Buhle, Mari Jo; Czitrom, Daniel J. (2005). Out of Many, TLC Combined, Revised Printing (4th Edition). Englewood Cliffs, N.J: Prentice Hall. pp. 388.ISBN 0-13-195130-0.