Konig Publishes Book on Dred Scott Case

David T. Konig, professor of history and professor of law, has published a new book,   The Dred Scott Case: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives on Race and Law. Konig co-edited the book along with Paul Finkelman of Albany Law School and Christopher Alan Bracey of George Washington University.

The volume presents 14 essays composed by leading historical and legal scholars reflecting on the Dred Scott case. The book is the result of a Washington University symposium that was co-sponsored by the law school and marked the 150th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the case. That decision declared that African-Americans “had no rights” under the Constitution.

The essays examine the case’s history, its later consequences, and its vast implications for history and American law. The book also presents reflections of the current justices of the Missouri Supreme Court.

Dred Scott was the first true civil rights case decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, and it raised issues that have not been fully resolved despite three Constitutional amendments and a century and a half of litigation,” Konig notes. “The essays in this book revisit the historical forces that created those problems and left them only incompletely remedied by law.”

Konig is an expert in early-American history and Anglo-American legal history. The author of multiple journal articles, he also edited the 16-volume Plymouth Court Records and is the author of Law and Society in Puritan Massachusetts: Essex County, 1629-1692 and Devising Liberty: Creating and Preserving Freedom in the New American Republic. He is currently working on a new book, Nature’s Advocate: Thomas Jefferson and the Discovery of American Law, for which he is drawing on years of research and several previous articles and papers on the third president. Additionally, he is preparing a scholarly edition of Thomas Jefferson’s legal notes for The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. His work on the Second Amendment was recently cited by Justice Stephen Breyer in his dissent in McDonald v. Chicago.