How the Civil War affected the relations between the North and South/Contibutions to "Civil War"...

Essay by bloodyoceanviewUniversity, Bachelor's December 2006

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The "Dred Scott" case was a major lawsuit decided upon by the United States Supreme Court in 1857 on the many slavery issues between the sections of the states. The lawsuit ruled that people of African descent, whether or not they were slaves, could never be citizens of the United States. It also was ruled that Congress had no authority to prohibit slavery in any of the federal territories. This ruling created an enormous upheaval between the North and South and also was one of the many leading factors that contributed to the War for Southern Independence.

Understandable Northern fears that the slave power had already controlled the government, and Southern fears of losing control of the Federal government to antislavery forces are the differences that brought the sectional crisis to a beginning in the late 1850s. Many northerners felt that parts of the "Dred Scott" decision, specifically the nullification of the Missouri Compromise on constitutional grounds, were unlawful because they were not necessary for arriving at a decision in the case.

They charged that after Chief Justice Taney had shown that Dred Scott, as a Negro, had no right to bring a case into a federal court, he should have ended his decision, instead of going on to declare that the Missouri Compromise was unconstitutional. The "Dred Scott" decision also served as an eye-opener to Northerners who believed that slavery was tolerable as long as it stayed in the South. They argued that if the decision took away any power that Congress once had to regulate slavery in new territories, then slavery could quickly expand into much of the western United States; and once slavery was expanded into the territories, it could spread quickly into the once-free states. Democrats, on the other hand, sought out to depict Republicans as anti-Constitutional because of their refusal to completely submit to the decision of the Supreme Court, even though the Court's decision, according to the Democrats, had been entirely within their jurisdiction as defined in the Constitution. So in the eyes of slavery, the majority of the South supported the "Dred Scott" decision while the North, containing most of the dueling abolitionists, never committed to the decision because of their unwanted slavery expansion.

Clearly the "Dred Scott" case was not an easily forgotten case. The fact, in my opinion, that it still raised such strong emotions well into the War for Southern Independence shows that it helped bring on the war by hardening the positions of each section to the point where they were both willing to fight over the issue of slavery. The North realized that if it did not act immediately, the Southern states might take the example of the "Dred Scott" decision as an excuse for expanding slavery into new territories and free states alike. The South recognized the threat of the Republican party and knew that the party had gained a considerable amount of support as a result of the Northern suspicion in the aftermath of the Court's decision. In the years following the case, Americans realized that these two sectional mindsets, both quick to defend their side from their rival, could not coincide within the same nation. These major factors are what greatly upset the relations between the North and South and are also what aided it the upcoming "Bloody War".