In a widely reprinted 1987 speech, Justice Thurgood Marshall characterized the Supreme Court's decision in Dred Scott v. Sandford as accurately reflecting the Founders' views on many subjects, including race. The author argues that Dred Scott was dead wrong on almost all counts-as many contemporaneous commentators, including Abraham Lincoln, understood. It was not helpful to our understanding of history and constitutional law for Justice Marshall to have resuscitated this horribly misguided decision.


Dred Scott v. Sanford, Justice Thurgood Marshall, Founding Fathers

Publication Date


Document Type


Place of Original Publication

Washington University Law Quarterly

Publication Information

66 Washington University Law Quarterly 1 (1988)


COinS Erik M. Jensen Faculty Bio