Dred Scott v. Sandford1847-1857 Alexa Chang and Mackenzie Dent
The Details • Dred Scott was born a slave in Virginia. • He moved to Missouri, but was then sold to Dr. Emerson. • With Dr. Emerson, he moved to two free areas in Illinois and Minnesota. • Emerson died and left all his belongings to his wife. • Scott asked to work for his freedom but was apparently rejected. • Scott sued for false imprisonment and battery. He claimed to had been held against his will in a slave state and that after being in a free state, he was free.This was a common way for slaves to win their freedom. This doctrine, which stated “once free, always free,” was commonly accepted in Europe. • Emerson won in the Missouri Circuit court, but Scott argued for a new trial. • Mrs. Emerson moved and left the case to her brother, John Sanford. • Emerson/Sanford won once again. The judges believed that states have the ability to refuse to enforce the laws of other states. • Sanford became Scott’s legal owner. • Scott filed a new lawsuit in the federal court system. • Sanford argued that Scott could not sue because he was not a citizen. This argument was dismissed, but only Missouri state laws were considered in the decision, which was in favor of Sanford. Scott appealed again to the US Supreme Court. • The Supreme Court was in favor of Sanford, including Chief Justice Robert Taney. He declared that slaves could not become citizens and that slavery was constitutional.
The Decision • The decision was made in 1857, 10 years after the state decision, 7-2 in favor of Sanford. • This case denied freedom to slaves who entered free territory. This would deny their owners loss of property without due process guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment. • This decision was based off of the original intent of the framers of the Constitution. They believed African-Americans were not considered citizens. • Though slaves could not sue because they were not citizens, the Supreme Court decided to take this case despite it not falling within its jurisdiction. • The decision invalidated the Missouri Act and the Kansas-Nebraska Act. • The Supreme Court denied Congress the power to determine which states/territories are free or slave.
Keywords • State jurisdiction • States only have jurisdiction over their state and cannot have their laws enforced in other states • Supreme Court jurisdiction • The Supreme Court can take cases involving citizens of different states, but Scott was not a citizen, though they accepted this case anyway. • “Once free, always free.” • Slavery • a person who is property of another person and is required to serve • Kansas-Nebraska Act • Allowed the Kansas and Nebraska territories to vote on slavery • Missouri Compromise • Defined which states were free or slave • Fifth Amendment • States citizens cannot be “deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” • Original intent • Interpretation of the Constitution based on the intent of the framers.
Political Cartoon This political cartoon gives a brief overview of the case.
Websites • http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part4/4h2933.html • http://www.streetlaw.org/en/Page/539/Background_Summary__Questions_ • http://americanhistory.about.com/od/judicialbranch/p/ScottvStanford.htm • http://www2.maxwell.syr.edu/plegal/tips/t6prod/cunninghamwq2.html