Political Thoughts of Abraham Lincoln
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Lincoln raised the topic of equality in his Scott Dred speech highlighting any form of favoritism or discrimination in the United States. A comprehensive analysis of the Declaration reveals that part of the promise of equality focused on the Negro. Therefore, this paper will review in what ways it was applied to the black population and in what ways it ignored their rights.
Application of the Promise to the Negroes
In general, Lincoln felt that the opinion of Chief Justice Taney in the Dred Scott v. Sandford case violated the founding principles of the United States. He believed that the decision declared two propositions that did not provide justice to Americans in general. One proposition stated that a negro does not have the right to sue someone in the U.S. courts; the second one claimed that Congress was not ready to prohibit slavery. These two factors attracted Lincoln's attention because he felt that they contravened the principles of both the judicial system and the government (Lincoln n.p.).
Since one of the court decision applications is to demonstrate to the public how the court will decide future analogous cases. Lincoln was afraid that the judgment of the Dred Scott v. Sandford case will affect Negroes in the coming years. The judiciary would take it as common law and apply it to similar issues. Just like other people who were against slavery, Lincoln felt that Justice Taney Roger B. did not take the right step to deny Scoot's request for freedom. The decision depicted unequal treatment of African Americans because it rendered them the chance to become citizens of the United States or report the mistreatments they faced through slavery.
Justice Taney held that the request by Scoot was unconstitutional but Lincoln reckoned that such an allegation was false. He echoed that Justice Taney when delivering the majority opinion in the court insisted that Negroes did not belong to the part of the individuals for whom the US Constitution or the Declaration of Independence was made. However, Lincoln seemed to agree with Judge Curtis, who had a different idea (Lincoln n.p.).
In his dissenting view, Curtis revealed that in five of the then thirteen American states, including Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, and New Jersey, free negroes had the right to vote. Thus, in proportion to their populations, they contributed in the same manner as the white people to make the Constitution. Lincoln stated that he could not doubt the assertions of Judge Curtis because they demonstrated particularity. He even referred to Curtis's message in which he stated that the US Constitution was established and ordained by the people of America through the contribution of every state.
He also noted that in some states, colored individuals were among those who the law qualified to act on the matter. These colored people belonged to 'the people of the America' who contributed to the establishment of the Constitution. In not less than five states, the law mandated them to act including the suffrage right about the Constitution adoption (Lincoln n.p.).By referring to Curtis's words, Justice Taney did not make a factual statement in defense of the decision he made in the Dred Scott v. Sandford case.
Negligence of the Promise on the Negroes
Talking about equality in the Declaration promise, Lincoln also focused on how it neglected blacks. Part of his speech also outlined other factors that underpinned the fair treatment of African Americans. Lincoln felt that he was pointing out the issues that did not seem right (denying Scott justice), but Judge Douglas found his views in the resistance to the rulings of the Supreme Court. Douglas held that the courts are the representatives of the tribunals that the US Constitution prescribes as well as the people chosen by the authority to determine, enforce, and expound the law.
Therefore, whoever resists the ultimate decision of the highest judicial tribunal plans a deadly blow to the whole Republican arm of government a setback, which might see all the liberties and rights become subject to violence, anarchy, and passion. He also stated that in case of resistance to the rulings of the American Supreme Court like the one concerning Dred Scott and Sandford, it would become a distinct issue between the supporters and opponents of the supremacy of the laws (Lincoln n.p.). |Evidently, within the jurisdiction defined by the Constitution, Douglas made his assertions in response to Lincoln's request to challenge the decision in the Dred Scott v. Sandford case, but Lincoln did not seriously regard his assertions. He felt that Douglas denounced his views because they involved a black man.
Lincoln might have been convinced by the fact that about five out of thirteen states had guaranteed free Negroes the right to vote and participate in creating the Constitution. However, that leaves a few questions lingering in mind. Why had the eight remaining states not adopted the same measure? Why were the enslaved Negroes still marginalized and denied the same rights? The government was supposed to ensure that such a positive practice spreads to all the states and extends to all Negroes.
When giving his opinion in the Dred Scott v. Sandford case, Chief Justice Taney admitted that the provisions of the Declaration were broad enough to include all the human races. On the other hand, he and Judge Douglas argued that the writers of that draft did not intend to include African Americans given that they did not regard them equally with the white people. Therefore, the promise of the Declaration still neglected blacks even though it proclaimed equality.
Lincoln reshaped American history when he challenged the decision of the Supreme Court in the Dred Scott v. Sandford case. One would deduce that his decision changed the entire American judicial, administration, living conditions, and many other political issues in the American land. Not only did his speech help the African Americans attain freedom, but also receive fair treatment.