With tensions at an all time high and the nation at a potential breaking point, the decision in the Dred Scott Case came as a surprise to both the North and the South. The decision had drastic consequences, southern principles were validated while northern liberties were threatened. Therefore it is not surprising that The New York Herald and The Charleston Mercury had very different view points and reporting styles. The northern newspaper viewed the decision’s impact as having “tremendous consequences,” the article included how the Supreme Court’s ruling dismantled northern states’ rights, threatened their liberty and state constitutions. While the southern newspaper saw the decision as a “triumph” for southern rights, likely because it granted and validated property rights, and limited Congress’ political debates over slavery. The Federal government could no longer meddle in state affairs and ended the need for compromises between anti and pro-slavery states. Although the North and the South had very different opinions on the decision’s impact, one thing was clear this decision was not the end of the agitation between anti and pro-slavery states. Political agitations prior to the Dred Scott case influenced how this dynamic decision was viewed and reported in The New York Herald, “The Decision of the Supreme Court in the Dred Scott Case, and Its Tremendous Consequences” and in The Charleston Mercury, “The Dred Scott Case-The Supreme Court on the Rights of the South”.
This case came to be yet another symbol of the agitation between the two halves of the nation. The mere impact of the case of one man’s legal fight to obtain his freedom was felt everywhere. Dred Sco...
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... not be citizens, whether free or enslaved, many northern states had to amend their constitutions. States could no longer determine if their state was free or pro-slavery. The court had made it clear by ruling that the Missouri Compromise of 1820 was unconstitutional, and Congress could no longer interfere in determining owner’s right to property. The decision declared any line or distinction between non-slave and slave states null and void, at least officially. There was so much tension, questions, debate, anger, and confusion among citizens, laborers, states, and Congress. Thus it is not surprising that journalists and newspapers would have been swept up in the debates and allowed their political or personal biases be reflected in these reports. One thing was clear and both reports accurately predicted the ensuing agitation over slavery within the country.
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