Dred Scott v. Sandford

Dred Scott v. Sandford

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Dred Scott v. Sandford

The Dred Scott case was an important Supreme Court decision written by Chief
Justice Roger B. Taney
that
has several key elements. First, the Dred Scott decision ruled that slaves and
their descendants (even those not born into slavery) were not part of the
population protected under the United States Constitution
. This court case held that the Federal Government
was not able to abolish slavery in the territories and, consequently, slaves
could not be removed from the possession of their owners without due process of
the law. Finally, it held that slaves were unable to become citizens of the
United States and, therefore, unable to file suit in a court of law.

Dred
Scott was a slave who was owned by John Emerson, a major in the United States
Army. Throughout Emerson’s ownership of Scott, he was stationed at several
places in the U
.S., including the territory of Wisconsin and the State of Illinois. Both of these states were considered
free states. During this time, Emerson allowed Scott to marry and experience
other freedoms that were not generally allowed of slaves.

 

In 1837, Emerson was assigned to a military base in St.
Louis, Missouri
, at which point he left Scott and his wife in
the Wisconsin Territory. Soon after, Emerson was transferred to Louisiana where
he sent for Scott and his wife. After John Emerson’s death, Dred Scott
attempted to purchase his freedom from Emerson’s wife, but was unsuccessful.
This prompted him to sue Emerson. Scott won his freedom temporarily, but on
appeal the decision was reversed.

 

In 1853, Scott once again sued for his freedom,
this time in
Federal court. This is referred to as the
Scott v. Sandford case because Emerson’s brother, John Sandford, took over
responsibility for the case. When the Missouri Supreme Court once again ruled
that Scott was a slave, he appealed this decision to the U
.S. Supreme Court.


Although the Supreme Court ruled that Missouri did not have the jurisdiction to
make a ruling on the Scott v. Sandford matter, the
Court continued on to make several decisions. One issue in
the Dred Scott decision was that the Missouri Compromise had made Minnesota a
free
State and Scott had resided there for some
time. The Supreme Court held that Congress did not have the power to declare
territories to be free. 


The Dred
Scott decision had a great impact on the economy in the
North. The Panic of 1857 ensued because of the uncertainty
of the consequences that this court case would have on the existence of slavery
in the territories. The railroads that were running east-west through the
territories, as well as the banks that financed them, began to collapse.

 

The Dred Scott case did not have the same influence in
the
South where the cotton crops continued to
thrive because of their use of slave labor. In 1854, the Kansas-Nebraska Act
was passed which repealed the Missouri Compromise and allowed territories to
determine whether they would be a slave
State or a free State. This was seen as an effort by the Supreme Court to
greatly expand the use of slavery. Most
Southerners believed that, regardless of whether a
territory was considered a slave or free
State, they should be permitted to freely bring their
slaves in and out of the territory.

 

The Dred Scott decision had many impacts on the issue of
slavery. At the same time it weakened the political power of the
North, it strengthened their beliefs that slavery should
be abolished. 

Many Northerners reacted to the Dred Scott decision by speaking
out against slavery. Even
Northerners who reluctantly accepted slavery,
as long as it was kept within the boundaries of the
South, feared that the Dred Scott decision would expand
the use of slavery into all the territories. As a reaction to the
North’s opposition, the South
continually made threats to secede. Many
Northern opponents to slavery argued that the Dred Scott
decision was invalid.

 

The main finding of the Supreme Court in the Dred Scott
case was that the Missouri Supreme Court did not have jurisdiction to rule on
Scott’s freedom because Scott was not a citizen of Missouri. All subsequent
rulings, claimed slavery opponents, were unnecessary and invalid because they
were not relevant to the case. 

Basically, Southerners believed the Dred Scott case
reinforced their right to own slaves, while
Northerners saw the decision as an effort to spread
slavery throughout the nation. Dred Scott eventually did receive his freedom.
He purchased his emancipation from a man named Peter Blow, who was Scott’s
first slave owner, in 1857.

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