July 6, 2010 Notes
Peter’s morning comments
College students – are they not studying outside of class as much?
History Detectives – PBS
TIME Magazine: The History Issue
Thomas A. Edison (on the cover)
Is the U.S. slipping in science and technology?
The Story of US (History Channel) – Peter’s grade: B
Daniel Walker Howe, consultant; 19th century America
“Commercialization” of the program
Very patriotic program; emphasis on technology, immigration, innovation,
Land of abundance; people are plenty (David Potter)
The Mexican War (Daniel Walker Howe)
Wiping out of the American buffalo
Immigration: Norwegians, becoming loggers; many returned back home
PBS: The American Experience: Into the Deep: America, Whaling and the World – documentary
on the history of whaling; The Essex
PBS: Freedom: A Story of US – by Joy Hakim
Joy Hakim: The story of science
Paul Finkelman, guest speaker
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Paul’s commentary on Peter’s comments:
Daniel Boorstin’s The Americans (five volume series) – recommends the 19th Century
Inventors: more egocentric than corporate giants
Patents: Eli Whitney didn’t patented the Cotton Gin
Technology had a huge impact on the way wars were fought since the U.S. Civil War
U.S. won World War II partially because the U.S. had better technology, and was able to
manufacture equipment in great quantities.
Fulton-Livingston monopoly on steamboat travel in New York (until 1824; Gibbons v.
Einstein; immigration policy allowed Einstein to live in the U.S.; immigrants were not
just poor, working class, but also educated
Francis Lieber; Charleston, SC. German-speaking; constitutional theorist; goes to
Harvard, then to University of South Carolina at Columbia but then left because he was
considered “not good enough to teach about [defending] slavery;” becomes professor at
Columbia and writes the manual on U.S. Army on how to deal with seized property.
::: THE MEXICAN WAR & COMPROMISE OF 1850 :::
1820s: Mexico invites Americans to move to Texas (useless land); sell 12.5 cents an acre (versus
$1.25 an acre); Moses Austin acquires 30,000 acres of land; son, Sam, inherits the land.
Texas: potential land for cotton cultivation; slaves are brought
Mexico for the most part neglects Texas; too distant from Mexico City; basically considered a
Texas revolts and wins independence from Mexico
Sam Houston asks Jackson for Texas to be annexed to the United States; Jackson refuses and
does not recognize Texas (until days before the end of his presidency). It was until President
John Tyler who annexes Texas
1844 – central issue of the presidential election campaign; Henry Clay: Kentucky senator, ran for
president and lost to James K. Polk. President Polk wants all of northern Mexico (present-day
California, New Mexico, Arizona, etc.); manifest destiny; offers to buy California from Mexico;
Mexico refuses offer; Polk sends troops to Rio Grande led by Gen. Zachary Taylor (Texas-
Mexico border was considered Nueces River, north of Rio Grande); provoking war with Mexico.
Mexican forces shoot upon U.S. troops. War is declared. U.S. defeats Mexico.
Grant, in writing his memoirs, looked at the war with Mexico as an “unjust (aggressive) war.”
Constitutional crisis: what do you do with the MO compromise line in the acquired lands west of
the Mississippi? Does it extend westward? Wilmot Proviso – no slavery at all in the acquired
Taylor’s solution: let California (population 1m) as a “free” state; overwhelmingly anti-slavery;
extend Missouri Compromise line across the acquired lands to the California border; thus,
Arizona and New Mexico will allow slavery, and northern Nevada and Utah are “free;” open up
Texas: claims eastern New Mexico (to Santa Fe), sends small troops to Santa Fe, but is turned
back by U.S. forces
New Fugitive Slave Law: Article IV, Section 2; does not mention “slaves” but implies slaves.
Congress passes law in 1793 regarding fugitive slaves; standards for proof is minimal; northern
states were concerned of kidnapping of free blacks; Northern states passes supplementary laws
requiring more proof before a magistrate.
Prigg v. Pennsylvania (1837), Justice Story
Fugitive Slave Law of 1850; creates appointed federal commissioner (federal law enforcement)
to enforce federal laws; denies slaves to a jury trial; also prohibits the alleged fugitive slaves to
testify in courts; allows militia to be used by federal officials to send fugitive slaves back to the
South. This becomes a provision in the Compromise of 1850.
Compromise of 1850 is a fair compromise, according to many textbooks. True or false?
Texas receives land east of New Mexico, and receives $10m from the U.S. government.
California becomes a “free” state; although the two Democrat senators tended to vote
Sale of slaves banned in Washington, D.C.
1850 Fugitive Slave Law is in effect
Look at the chart of state admissions; initially the North had an advantage with more states than
the South (when counting representation in the Senate). 1845-1848: South had a majority in the
Senate (more states in the South than in the North); Compromise of 1850 allowed more potential
states for the South.
Few northerner senators tended to vote with the southern senators, such as Daniel Webster.
William Henry Harrison was a slaveholder.
Finkelman: Compromise of 1850 was a victory for the South more so than for the North.
President Millard Fillmore signs the Compromise of 1850. Would there have been secession had
the Compromise of 1850 not been passed?
Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1857; obliterates the Missouri Compromise (had already been
weakened by the Compromise of 1850).
Sidenote: Two books on Robert E. Lee:
The Marble Man
Autobiography, based on Robert E. Lee’s letters to his wife
Discussion of race in American history; how one is considered white or black. Under Virginia
law, anyone who is one-eighth black is considered white, unless the mother is a slave.
Slavery allows for virtually unlimited free sex for all (white) men in the South; under the laws,
the child of a slave is a slave; no slave can testify against a white person, or even against a free
::: DRED SCOTT :::
Missouri Compromise of 1820 states that slavery is not permitted north of the southern border of
Missouri. Dred Scott, owned by Cap’n Dr. John Emerson; takes Dred to Fort Armstrong
(Illinois); and then taken to Fort Snelling, Minnesota (Fort Armstrong was closed; after victory at
Black Hawks War, 1830s). Dred is left in Minnesota when Emerson moves to Louisiana. Marries
Harriet; moves back and forth between Lousiana and Minnesota under Emerson; Dred tries to
buy his freedom from Emerson’s wife, Irene, after Emerson dies. Irene turns down Dred’s offer.
Slavery is a status created by local law; local law exists only within the local jurisdiction; status
changes outside the jurisdiction.
Commonwealth of Massachusetts v. Aves; Boston Female Anti-Slavery Association; Aves
is renamed Maria Somerset. Cites several decisions from southern states that declared
that a slave becomes a free person in a free state.
Dred sues for freedom; initial decision stated Dred as a free man, but is then reversed.
Irene moves to Springfield, Massachusetts; marries Chafey, a Springfield doctor later becomes
Republican congressman from Springfield; anti-slavery position. Irene transfers ownership to
John Sanford, who lives in New York.
Dred sues for diversity jurisdiction, claims as a Missouri resident to sue John Sanford. John
argues that Dred cannot sue because he is simply a Negro, and therefore not a legal citizen from
Federal judge (from Virginia) disagreed: citizens, aliens, Indians or slave; Dred must be one of
Full faith and credit clause: judge could have said that Dred would have been free in Illinois, and
Missouri could have given full faith and credit when Dred moved to Missouri.
Appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court (1856); Court, under Chief Justice Tawney, decided to hold
until for further arguments.
1856 presidential election; Kansas-Nebraska was a major issue in the campaign.
As of 1854, the only places in the U.S. were slavery was not legal was in Minnesota and in the
The new Republican party candidate, John C. Fremont, against James Buchanan (a “doughface”
from the North, like Fillmore and Pierce); carries most of the southern states in the 1856 election
(Fillmore, under the “Know Nothing Party,” wins Maryland). Fremont carries 11 (mostly
Court hears whether or not the Missouri Compromise was constitutional in the meantime.
President Buchanan announces in his inaugural address that the slavery (in the territories)
question is no longer a political question, but now a judicial question; we shall accept and obey
the Supreme Court’s decision.
Missouri Compromise was declared unconstitutional two days after Buchanan’s inauguration;
also wrote that:
Blacks can never be citizens of the United States
Justice Benjamin R. Curtis (from Massachusetts, who argued for the Aves case) writes a scathing
dissent on Tawney’s decision.
For the decision: Southerners, Northern Democrats
Against the decision: Republicans
According to Lincoln, Dred Scott [decision] is the prelude to the nationalization of slavery.
See p. 85 (Dred Scott): “When that question arises…”
Lincoln’s “A House Divided” speech: “Either the opponents of slavery…”
“You will go to bed…”
Lincoln was considered most articulate and brilliant in deconstructing Dred Scott decision, and
perhaps led him to win the presidential election of 1860.
::: Q&A :::
Why didn’t Irene agree to sell Dred and his family? It could be a number of issues: economic,
personal, political ideology.
What is a slave worth? Paul Finkelman (paraphrasing) on market economics: “I often tell my
students that a slave is like a car; they vary in value/worth, and so if you think about a planter
owning 20 slaves, think about someone who owns 20 cars. Slaves were very valuable. So was
How legally feasible is it for a slave to buy his own freedom? Slaves can’t sign contracts. A slave
could have a white “protector” who would sign on his or her behalf with the owner promising to
free the slave after certain agreed-upon services were performed.
Why would a slave master diminish or “de-value” his property by beating a slave? Drunkenness;
Jefferson’s Nephews: A Frontier Tragedy, by Boynton Merrill (2004)
How would you rate Chief Justice Tawney? Pro-slavery; had always been hostile toward free
blacks and toward preserving the Union.
Buchanan’s world: what is the fuss over the slavery issue; the issue of slavery will disrupt the
nation; let the judiciary settle the slavery issue once and for all and move forward; let’s focus on
policy issues and matters.