Letter from John Catron to James Buchanan--2/19/1857

    Source citation
    Catron, John, to James Buchanan, 19 February 1857. As printed in The Works of James Buchanan, Comprising His Speeches, State Papers, and Private Correspondence. Vol. 10, ed. John Bassett Moore. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Co., 1908-1911, p. 106.
    Author (from)
    John Catron
    Recipient (to)
    Buchanan, James
    Date Certainty
    Meghan Allen
    Transcription date
    The following text is presented here in complete form, as true to the original written document as possible.
    Thursday, Feby. 19th [1857].

    The Dred Scott case has been before the Judge several times since last Saturday, and I think you may safely say in your Inaugural,
    ‘That the question involving the constitutionality of the Missouri Compromise line is presented to the appropriate tribunal to decide; to wit, to the Supreme Court of the United States. It is due to its high and independent character to suppose that it will decide & settle a controversy which has so long and seriously agitated the country, and which must ultimately be decided by the Supreme Court. And until the case now before it, (on two arguments) presenting the direct question, is disposed of, I would deem it improper to express any opinion on the subject.’
    A majority of my Brethren will be forced up to this point by two dissentients.
    Will you drop Grier a line, saying how necessary it is--& how good the opportunity is, to settle the agitation by an affirmative decision of the Supreme Court, the one way or the other. He ought not to occupy so doubtful a ground as the outside issue—that admitting the constitutionality of the Mo. Comp. line of 1820, still, as no domicile was acquired by the negro at Ft. Snelling, & he returned to Missouri, he was not free. He has no doubt about the question on the main contest, but has been persuaded to take the smooth handle for the sake of repose.

    Sincerely yr. frd.

    J. CATRON.

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