Wednesday, October 31, 2018

USA Today doing "fake history"

With much discussion of "fake news," it is interesting to note that USA Today is re-writing history.

As seen in the image below, USA Today wrote that Dred Scott "was enslaved after living
free in Missouri." As one point, Dred Scott, prior to the Supreme Court decision in
1857, NEVER lived free in the state of Missouri. Further, although Scott did live in the
free state of Illinois, and also what would later become Minnesota, he did not live "free" there
either, being hired out to perform work on behalf of his owner.

Scott's argument before state courts in Missouri, and later before the U.S. Supreme Court, was
that by living in free states/territories he had become free.

Of greater relevance to the present debate was the status of Dred Scott's daughter Eliza, who was born on a
riverboat on the Mississippi River, between the free state of Illinois, and the free territory of
what would become Iowa.

The U.S. Supreme Court decision was based on an asserted lack of standing of Dred Scott to bring the
lawsuit at all. That presumably would have applied to a suit brought on behalf of the daughter.

USA Today wrote that "his owners eventually freed him." The issue of "who owned" Scott at given points in
time is a bit murky. Scott was initially owned by Peter Blow, who sold Scott to Dr. John Emerson, who died
in 1843, leaving his estate to his wife Irene Emerson. John Sanford was the brother of Irene Emerson, and
there is no record showing that he ever "owned" Dred Scott. In 1850, Irene Emerson re-married, to
Calvin C. Chaffee. In 1857, the Chaffees deeded Scott and his family to Taylor Blow, Peter Blow's son, and
it was Taylor Blow who freed the Scott family. Dred Scott died in 1858, having lived "free" for about 18 months.

From USA Today, on 30 October 2018:


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