Cultural Literacy: Dred Scott Decision

Here’s a Cultural Literacy worksheet on the Dred Scott Decision, an ignominious moment among several in the history of the United States Supreme Court. This is a full-page worksheet with seven questions; it can be used, therefore, as an independent practice worksheet. But it can also be easily adapted to the needs of your classroom and its students.

What this worksheet does not cite or invoke, and which students really ought to know, is Chief Justice Roger Taney’s infamous statement in the decision, to wit, that Dred Scott, like other Americans of African descent, possessed “…no rights which the white man was bound to respect….” This is a key moment of racist rhetoric in this nation’s history, and one students should be bound to understand. Put another way, anyone who says that racism isn’t a fundamental element of United States history really ought to have his or her nose rubbed in Justice Taney’s statement.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

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