100 Americans Making Constitutional History: A Biographical History presents 100 profiles of the key people behind some of the most important U.S. Supreme Court cases. Edited by Melvin I. Urofsky, a respected constitutional historian, each 2,000-word profile delves into the social and political context behind landmark Court decisions. For example, while a case like Brown v. Board of Education is about an important idea—the equal protection of the law—at its heart it is the story of a little girl, Linda Brown, who wanted to go to a decent school near her home. The outcome is accessible and objective “stories” about the individuals—heroes and scoundrels—who fought their way to constitutional history.
The Fight against Slavery
“Whether we will be Men or Barbarians and Brutes”
Ableman v. Booth
62 U.S. (21 How.) 506 (1859)
Sherman Booth was born in Delaware County, New York, in 1812. He was a farmer and a teacher until age twenty-five, when he became a temperance lecturer. At the same time he entered Yale College, graduating in 1841. By the time he left Yale, Booth had became an antislavery activist, and in 1842 he moved to Meriden, Connecticut, where he coedited a newspaper, the Christian Freeman. He migrated to Wisconsin in 1848, the year of statehood.
At age thirty-five he was a committed opponent of slavery with a background in journalism and political organizing. He was “a forceful speaker and writer but often erratic and tactless.” ...