"Austin Allen has written an absolutely superb, and original, book that is full of extraordinarily clearly presented insights about the various legal contexts within which the Dred Scott litigation occurred and was decided by the Supreme Court. Anyone interested in the development of American constitutional law and the role of the Supreme Court must read this book."
—Sanford Levinson, University of Texas School of Law
Allen carefully tracks arguments made by Taney Court justices in more than 1,600 reported cases in the two decades prior to Dred Scott and in its immediate aftermath. By showing us the political, professional, ideological, and institutional contexts in which the Taney Court worked, Allen reveals that Dred Scott was not simply a victory for the Court's prosouthern faction. It was instead an outgrowth of Jacksonian jurisprudence, an intellectual system that charged the Court with protecting slavery, preserving both federal power and state sovereignty, promoting economic development, and securing the legal foundations of an emerging corporate order—all at the same time. Here is a wealth of new insight into the internal dynamics of the Taney Court and the origins of its most infamous decision.
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