The Dred Scott Decision-The Republicans in Council at Albany

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    "The Dred Scott Decision-The Republicans in Council at Albany," March 16, 1857, p. 4.
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    New York Herald
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    The Dred Scott Decision-The Republicans in Council at Albany
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    Zak Rosenberg
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    The following text is presented here in complete form, as it originally appeared in print. Spelling and typographical errors have been preserved as in the original.

    The Dred Scott Decision-The Republicans in Council at Albany

    According to our latest political advices from Albany the republican members of our Legislature, under the guidance of W.H. Seward and Thurlow Weed, have had, and still have, the Dred Scott decision under serious consideration, in reference to the future course of the republican party upon that important and comprehensive subject.

    It is generally believed that this decision of the Supreme Court, though it embodies no general principles in relation to the African race that have not been practically in force in this country for the last seventy years, will, nevertheless, create a more intense sectional excitement, political and moral, among the anti-slavery people of the North than anything in the history of the vexed and perilous question of Southern slavery. Hence the importance of a careful consideration of this subject, and a judicious appropriation of the Dred Scott decision as the future war cry of the republican party.

    First, in this decision the Supreme Court, according to our Albany republicans, claims and exercises "the power behind the throng greater than the throne itself." It assumes the right to control both the executive and the legislative branches of the general government, as well as the governments of the several States. It takes the form of an absolute despotism lying behind our republican institutions, and possessed of the most comprehensive and compulsory powers of an overshadowing centralization. This extraordinary anomaly in our popular form of government, they say, is without example in its sweeping supremacy and assumptions since the darkness of the middle ages, when the Pope and his holy conclave assumed and exercised the power of giving laws to kings and kingdoms, and of giving to the favorites of the Holy Father a fee simple to principalities, islands, empires and continents.

    Be this as it may be, an absolute or limited power, exercised by the Supreme Court in the Dred Scott case, the decision thereupon is the law for the executive, the law for Congress, the law for the States, and the law for the people, till set aside and superseded in a constitutional way, or by a more violent revolution. The republicans of our Legislature, impressed with this fact, and with the tremendous issues, for good or for evil, that lie before them, according to their wisdom or their folly in the premises, are naturally enough divided in opinion as to the course they shall pursue. One set are in favor of planting the party upon the doctrines of Jefferson and the views of Judge McLean and Judge Curtis, both in regard to the powers of the government and the jurisdiction of the court, and of making these doctrines and views their platform henceforth in all national and State elections. Another set recommend the direct policy of State resistance to the Federal Court, on the ground that this Dred Scott decision invades the constitutional sanctities of State sovereignty and State rights, and upon the ground that those invasions should be repelled by the acts required from our Legislature and our local courts to vindicate the sovereignty of the State. This policy, however, comprehends the question of nullification-a thing which, according to the experience of South Carolina, is calculated rather to destroy than to advance the prospects of any political party.

    There is a third set in the Legislature, however, who are of the opinion that the day for compromises, reservations, and half-way measures of any kind upon slavery, has passed away, and that the crisis demands the lull and desperate remedy of nullification, revolution and disunion, whatever may be the extend of the disasters of the chaos, anarchy, and fire and sword that may follow to the North, to the South, to the State, to society, and civilization. This extreme red republican faction of treason and revolution declare that the "slave oligarchy" and the "slave power," if successful in fastening this Dred Scott decision upon the North, will have clinched the last rivet required to complete the enslavement of the Northern States to their slaveholding Southern masters.

    Between such conflicting views as these it appears the republicans at Albany are from day to day in caucus, deliberating what to do. They seem to understand the vast and far reaching responsibilities of their situation; for, considering the overwhelming ascendancy of the republican party in our Legislature and State, they rightly calculate that the policy which they may adopt will presently become the platform of the whole republican party of the North. We await the solution of this great problem with no small degree of interest, for the subject matter involved comprehends the key to the succession, and to the general government, for perhaps twenty years to come.

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