was local, while freedom was national.
Hence, when a master took his slave into a free State, at that instant he became a free man. The Dred Scott
decision was intended to reverse the rule.
Practically it held that slave ownership, wherever the Constitution
prevailed, was both a legal and a natural right.
It, as Benton
forcibly expressed it, “made slavery the organic law of the land and freedom the exception” ; or, as it was jocularly expressed at the time, it left freedom nowhere.
Although at the time of its promulgation, it was claimed by some of the more conservative pro-slavery leaders that the Dred Scott
dictum applied only to the Territories
, giving the masters the legal authority to enter them with their slaves, that position was clearly deceptive.
The principle involved, as laid down by the Court
, was altogether too broad for that construction.
In effect it put the proprietorship of human beings upon the same footing with other property rights,--and claimed for it the same constitutional protection.
The bolder men of the South
, like Toombs
, did not hesitate to give that interpretation to the Court
's pronouncement, and to insist on it with brutal frankness.
If they were wrong, the Court
was putty in their hands and they could easily have had a supplemental ruling that would have gone to any extent.
If the Dred Scott
decision had been promulgated by our highest court, and the slaveholders had insisted upon the license it was intended to give them for taking their slave property into free territory, at the time that Garrison
was being dragged by a mob through Boston
's streets; when Birney