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ìDesirous of readingî it, Millard Fillmore asks Hamilton Fish for a copy ìof the Opinions of the Supreme Court in the case of Dred Scottÿî
Buffalo, [New York]: , March 28, 1857 Autograph Letter Signed ìMillard Fillmore,î 1p, 5î x 8î, Buffalo, March 28, 1857. To Hon. Hamilton Fish. Integral leaf, docketed on verso, tipped to a card. Fine condition. In full, ìPerceiving that the Senate ordered some extra copies of the Opinions of the Supreme Court in the case of Dred Scott to be printed & being desirous of reading the whole, may I ask the favor of a copy if you have one to spare.î Dred Scott was a slave in Missouri. From 1833-1843, he resided in Illinois (a free state) and in an area of the Louisiana Territory, where slavery was forbidden by the Missouri Compromise of 1820. After returning to Missouri, Scott sued unsuccessfully in the Missouri courts for his freedom, claiming that his residence in free territory made him a free man. The Supreme Court decision, Dred Scott v. Sandford, was issued on March 6, 1857. Delivered by Chief Justice Roger Taney, the 7-2 opinion declared that slaves were not citizens of the United States and could not sue in Federal courts. In addition, the Court declared that the Missouri Compromise was unconstitutional and that Congress did not have the authority to prohibit slavery in the territories. In 1851, President Fillmore appointed Benjamin R. Curtis to the Supreme Court; it was his only Supreme Court appointment. Curtis was one of the two Justices voting for Dred Scott. Millard Fillmore personally opposed slavery, but as President (1850-1853), he saw the Compromise of 1850 as necessary to preserve the Union and enforced its strong Fugitive Slave Act which enacted strict provisions for returning runaway slaves to their owners. Former Whig Governor of New York, Hamilton Fish had served in the U.S. Senate from December 1, 1851 to March 3, 1857. He was against the spread of slavery. The Dred Scott decision was overturned by the 13th and 14th Amendments to the Constitution.
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