Washington: William M. Morrison and Company, Law Publishers and Booksellers. 1857. ix, [1 blank] 662 pp. Later cloth, inner hinges reinforced, widely scattered foxing, old bookplate and 'duplicate' stamp on front pastedown. Very Good. Pages 393-633 print the official report of Dred Scott v. Sandford.
This is the printing of the official report of the Supreme Court's biggest constitutional mistake, one of the most influential in shaping our history, and certainly 'the most famous legal case involving slavery' [Finkelman]. Its unusual publishing history is worth noting. Two printings actually issued before the appearance of this official report. Howard, seeking additional revenue, withheld this printing until 1859, although he had set the type in 1857. He arranged for Appleton to print a New York edition, which appeared in 1857; its pagination was identical to that which appeared in the official report. The Appleton printing is thus the first appearance of the entire opinions of all Justices in the Dred Scott Case. The intense excitement had also led Congress to order a separate Washington printing in 1857. These were quickly exhausted. See, generally, Douglas Lind, Dred Scott v. Sandford: Opinions and Contemporary Commentary .
Chief Justice Taney's Opinion for the Court excluded Blacks from the political community: they could never be citizens of the United States, whether slave or free. Their presumed inferiority became a constitutional cornerstone. Moreover, the Court held, Congress lacked power to exclude slavery from the territories. This meant that the Missouri Compromise, which for over thirty years had assured a rough modus vivendi between North and South, was unconstitutional. Far from settling the issue of slavery in the territories, the decision brought sectionalism to the boiling point, rallied the North and the nascent Republican Party, and set the stage for war. The separate opinions-- not only Taney's, but also by Wayne, Daniel, and Campbell for the South; and Nelson, Curtis, and Grier for the North-- reflected the panorama of views, passionately expressed.
FIRST EDITION. Grolier American 100, 68. Howes S218. Bradley Martin Sale 2524. Finkelman 49. Item #37279