Stephen N.

asked • 12d

John McLean's Dissent in Dred Scott

McLean's biographer called him a "moralist rather than a realist" and thought that he was a reformer. I believe that he was correct. "Reformers," as a personality type are: "Serious, Principled, Consistent, Fair, Moralist, Formalist, Persistent, Disciplined, Righteous, Responsible, Diligent, Reformist, Temperate Acting with plan." For example, McLean relied heavily on precedent which explains many of these inclinations and he used the word "right" (as opposed to wrong), sixty three times in his Dred Scott dissent reflecting his tendency to moralize.


How can I incorporate the NTTP, (previously Enneagram) personality type indicators into an explanation of John McLean's dissent in Dred Scott so that the resulting narrative does not turn into a psychology thesis rather than a history thesis?

My goal is to suggest that McLean's dissent reflected an appeal to precedent and was a protest against double jeopardy.

Historians have overlooked McLean's dissent in Fox v. Ohio in their analysis of Dred Scott. This unexplored connection would explain his need to discuss Slave Grace, and also contextualize the precedential impact of Somerset (1772). Even in Gamble v. US, (2019) where the dissenter mentions Dred Scott, he does not mention McLean.

This is a longer term project for which I am thinking I will need about 60 hours of help. Thesis proposal, (not literature review), chapter summary, abstract, proofing. Very flexible timing.

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Eric O.

I'm not an expert on McLean or even 19th century legal cases, but I'll offer what advice I can: Referencing a contemporary psychology test could be problematic because 1: McLean never took the test so you don’t know how he would score, and 2) the psychological profile might not helpful in answering your questions of whether or not he was a “reformer” because what was considered reform in antebellum America is different from what is considered reform today. (That, and most contemporary historians are skeptical of trans-historical psychological profiling). A better approach to see if McLean was a “reformist” might be to look at what McLean thought about various reform efforts within his time (antislavery, temperance, education, etc.) and get his opinion on those movements? That seems more direct (and less prone to critique) than introducing contemporary psychology concepts.


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