Story Essay On Dred Scott Decision

The Infamous Dred Scott Decision Essay

734 Words3 Pages

According to the Declaration of Independence, signed in 1776, "[...] all men are created equal, [and] they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." One would then expect that every man, would be entitled to their freedom, and it was true, for all white men. African-Americans, however, faced a very different reality. They were still forced into slavery, they were deprived of those rights that all men were meant to have. While the north states opposed slavery, it was permitted in the south, and as the slavery issue raged on, one man would stand to fight for his freedom. His case, would go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Court's decision would…show more content…

Unfortunately for the Scotts the circuit ruled in favor of Mrs. Emerson. The Scotts however were allowed to refile their suit and in 1850,in a third trial, Scott is declared a free man on the basis of having lived in non-slavery territories of Wisconsin and Illinois. Mrs. Emerson however filed an appeal and the Missouri Supreme Court returned Scott to slavery. After filing suit once more and losing the case, this time against John Sanford, Irene’s brother who was presumably Scotts new owner, Scott’s lawyers appealed the case to the United States Supreme Court in 1856.The Supreme Court’s decision would “affect not only him, but all black people in the United States.”#
In March 5,1857, after deliberating for several months, Chief Justice Roger Taney issued the ruling. The Court determined, by a majority of seven to two, that Dred Scott and his family were still slaves. It stated that even if, the Scotts had traveled into free territory, moving back to St.Louis had made them slaves once more. However, The Court decided to go further and addressed other issues regarding slavery and blacks. On citizenship, the Court decided no black could ever be a citizen, in Taney's own words "slaves nor their descendants, whether... free or not, were then acknowledged as part of the people [citizens]"# According to this, Scott was only property , therefore he did not have the right to file suit, and as a result was never free. The Court also decided to rule the

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FOCUS ON

Dred Scott v. Sandford

Six times a year, the editors of the Oxford African American Studies Center provide insights into black history and culture, showing ways in which the past and present interact by offering specially commissioned featured essays, photographic essays, and a selected list of articles that will further guide the reader. The latest Focus On article looks at the landmark Supreme Court case Dred Scott v. Sandford.

Photo Essay

  • Dred Scott v. Sandford

    The United States Supreme Court has a long history of court cases concerning issues of race. Cases like Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), Brown v. Board of Education (1954), and Loving v. Virginia (1967) all brought the intersections of race and the law to a nation-wide audience. In 1857 another landmark case concerning race was brought before the Supreme Court. In the case of Dred Scott v. Sandford, Dred Scott, a man born into slavery, sued his owner for his freedom based on the fact that he had lived in U.S. territories where slavery was outlawed. It was not the first time a slave tried to obtain emancipation through the legal system, but Dred Scott captured the attention of the nation. The case encapsulated some of the major concerns of an expanding and rupturing country—should slavery be legal? How would new states handle the slavery issue? In a controversial decision the court ruled against Scott by arguing that as a man with African ancestry he was not entitled to state or federal citizenship. The current Focus On article examines the controversial Dred Scott case—a case in which the struggle for emancipation helped push the country into a civil war.

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Featured Articles

The following entries have been selected to help guide readers who want to learn more about Dred Scott, his Supreme Court case, and the mounting tensions around the issue of slavery that eventually led to the Civil War. (Access to the following articles is available only to subscribers.)


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Primary Documents

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