The Plaintiff. Dred Scott was born a slave in Virginia around 1802. In 1830 his owner took him west to St. Louis, , where he was sold to Dr. John Emerson, an army surgeon. Emerson carried Scott with him as he would any other piece of property, first to Fort Armstrong, , from 1833 to 1836, then to Fort Snelling in the Wisconsin Territory from 1836 to 1838. The latter sojourn brought Scott into territory where slavery had been explicitly prohibited under the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, the Missouri Compromise of 1820 (which excluded slavery in the land acquired by the Louisiana Purchase north of latitude 3630), and the Enabling Act. This last piece of legislation stated that the Wisconsin Territory would be subject to the same laws that governed . Since Michigan prohibited slavery, the institution became illegal in Wisconsin as well. While in Wisconsin, Scott married another slave, Harriet Robinson, in a ceremony performed by her owner. However, because marriage was, in the eyes of the law, a contract and slaves lacked the legal right to make contracts, observers wondered about the intent of Scotts and Robinsons owners as well as the legal implications of allowing the marriage in the first place. Did the fact of their marriage mean that Scott and Robinson were recognized as free? When Emerson died suddenly in December 1843, ownership of Scott, Robinson, and their daughter Eliza passed to the doctors widow. In 1846 Scott attempted to purchase freedom for himself and his family. Irene Emerson refused, and in April, Scott sued for his freedom.
The Missouri Courts. The Scott case spent six years in the Missouri court system. The first trial, held in 1847, was dismissed on a technicality. Three years later a circuit court in St. Louis determined that Scotts long term of residence in a free territory made him and his family free. Emerson appealed, and the case moved to the Missouri Supreme Court. In 1852, in the case of v. the state supreme court overturned the lower courts ruling and determined that Scott was still a slave. In making this decision the states jurists ignored legal precedent and made concessions to proslavery politics and ideology. With new lawyers, Scotts case moved to the federal court system. The new suit was made against John Sanford of , the brother of Irene Emerson who managed his sisters estate. The case came to trial in May 1854. Scott sued in diversitya reference used when the plaintiff and defendant in a suit are citizens of different states. In other words, Scott claimed that he was a citizen of Missouri and Sanford a citizen of New York. Sanfords lawyers responded with a plea in abatement, or a call to stop the suit and throw it out. They argued that no court had jurisdiction over the case. Scott, they declared, was not a citizen of the state of Missouri, as alleged in his declaration, because he is a negro of African descent. Sanford argued that no black could be a citizen of the state of Missouri whether his or her status was slave or free. Therefore, no black, per se, could legally execute a suit in a federal court since this right was reserved exclusively for citizens. The federal court upheld the state supreme courts ruling, and Scott remained a slave.
The Dred Scott decision was unacceptable in the north. This prompted a young lawyer from Illinois to return to politics, seeking Stephen Douglas's seat in Congress — he was Abraham Lincoln. A series of debates between the two foreshadowed the issues of the .
The Congress and the Presidents of the past decade had failed to resolve the burning issue of slavery in the territories. Could the Supreme Court, the highest law in the land, put the issue to rest? Politicians and the American public hoped it could determine some long term framework for settlement of the slavery issue. An opportunity was presented when the Dred Scott case reached the High Court. As a slave having lived in a free territory, was he now free when he returned to a slave state? No. And more — neither a state nor Congress had the right to outlaw slavery.
From the 1780s, the question of whether slavery would be permitted in new territories had threatened the Union. Over the decades, many compromises had been made to avoid disunion. But what did the Constitution say on this subject? This question was raised in 1857 before the Supreme Court in case of . was a slave of an army surgeon, John Emerson. Scott had been taken from Missouri to posts in Illinois and what is now Minnesota for several years in the 1830s, before returning to Missouri. The Missouri Compromise of 1820 had declared the area including free. In 1846, Scott sued for his freedom on the grounds that he had lived in a free state and a free territory for a prolonged period of time. Finally, after eleven years, his case reached the Supreme Court. At stake were answers to critical questions, including slavery in the territories and citizenship of African-Americans. The verdict was a bombshell.
finally heard in February 1856. The heart of the case rested on three crucial issues. First, could people of African descent, slave or free, be citizens of the ? Second, did the federal government have the power to ban slavery in the Western territories? Third, was the Missouri Compromise and its geographical limitations on slavery constitutional? Scotts chances at winning freedom for himself and his family were small since a majority of the Supreme Court justices were either Southerners, who had themselves held slaves, or Southern sympathizers. Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, a former slave owner, openly supported the South and its peculiar institution.
The Dred Scott Decision was a key case regarding the issue of slavery; the case started as a slave seeking his rightful freedom and mushroomed into a whole lot more.
Charles Sumner,the leader of those who blocked the request, had strong words on the late ChiefJustice and his most notorious decision:
I speak what cannot be denied when I declare that the opinion of the ChiefJustice in the case of Dred Scott was more thoroughly abominable than anythingof the kind in the history of courts.
Sanford (1857), commonly known as the Dred Scott Case, is probably the most famous case of the nineteenth century (with the exception possibly of Marbury v.
Dred Scott was not an educated man, when he was set free by a jury comprised of white people. He was working for a doctor who later died and Scott was left working for the widowed wife. No sooner had he enjoyed his freedom, than he was returned to slavery. The Supreme Court ruled that he did not deserve to be free; therefore, his freedom was cut short. This man did not give up on getting his freedom so he presented his case in the US Supreme Court. He was not successful because the court did not grant him his wish. In fact, Judge Taney added that a white man is not obliged to respect the rights of a black man.
Sandford" Described as being poorly educated, indigent, feeble, and ill prone, Dred Scott seemed consistent with society's definition of the black slave.
Dred Scott v. Sanford reached the U.S. Supreme Court. In 1857, Chief Justice Roger B. Taney ruled that anyone of African descent was not a citizen and did not posses the legal authority to bring legal suit. Further, because slaves were property, Taney ruled that had no power to regulate slavery, effectively nullifying the of 1820. It took the to rectify the Dred Scott ruling.
Married to Harriet Scott with four (4) children, Dred wanted to provide his family with a sense of dignity and decency that a free man's status would warrant him.
Dred Scott (1795-1858) was a slave to Dr. John Emerson, a surgeon. Emerson was frequently posted in free territories and states, including Illinois and Wisconsin. After moving first to Missouri, and then Louisiana (where was legal), Scott sued for his freedom. Paper Masters can compose a custom written research paper on Dred Scott that follows your guidelines.