Street Law, Inc. and The Supreme Court Historical Society present

Landmark Cases of the U.S. Supreme Court

Street Law /

Abraham Lincoln’s Speech About the Dred Scott Decision, 1857 (•••)

Directions

Go to TeachingAmericanHistory.org to find a copy of the speech that Abraham Lincoln gave in Springfield, Illinois shortly after the Supreme Court issued its decision in the Dred Scott case. 

As you read his speech*, create an outline of the reasons Lincoln gives for his view that the decision is “erroneous.”  Outline his objections to the dissenting opinion and his views about the separation of the races as well.

When you finish the outline, write a short essay that summarizes Lincoln’s views and your own views on the decision.  Which of Lincoln’s arguments, if any, did you find most persuasive?  Which of Lincoln’s arguments, if any, do you find objectionable?  Support your opinions with reasons and, whenever possible, use specific phrases from the speech to illustrate your points.  

After you have drafted your essay, be prepared to share your first draft with another student, get feedback from him or her, and then revise your essay before you turn in a final draft and your outline to your teacher. 

* Note:  You will notice that before Lincoln speaks about the Dred Scott decision, he talks about what was happening in Utah and in Kansas at the time.  You should read these paragraphs to get a better understanding of the context in which the decision was issued and Lincoln’s views, but you do not have to outline this section.

< Dred Scott v. Sandford