"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
"Austin Allen has found a new and intriguing angle on the infamous Dred Scott case. . . . He explains relatively technical and obscure elements of early nineteenth-century law in an accessible and clear fashion. . . . This book is essential reading for anyone interested in the Dred Scott case, and is quite valuable for anyone interested in the Supreme Court, law, and politics during the Jacksonian era."
"This brilliant volume is filled with insight across antebellum legal thought. . . . Everyone working in antebellum legal history needs to engage this book. We will all be grappling . . . with Allen's thoughtful, bold book for the rest of our careers. He has opened Dred Scott again to study and shown us that we have much to learn about the complex relationship of judicial doctrine and proslavery ideology."
—Register of the Kentucky Historical Society
"Makes important contributions this scholarship on sectional controversies in antebellum America."
—Law and History Review
"Allen's well-written book is a fine introduction to Jacksonian jurisprudence and the politics of the Taney court . . . original and informative."
—Journal of American History
"Allen has written a fine book: instructive, perceptive, and well researched . . . [Origins of the Dred Scott Case] will not be the last word on the subject, but, from this point forward, it must be part of any intelligent discussion."
—American Historical Review
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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