Who was Dred Scott? Dred Scott was a slave. He was taken by his master, an officer in the U.S. Army, from the SLAVE state of Missouri to the FREE state of Illinois and then to the FREE territory of Wisconsin. When the Army ordered his master to go back to Missouri, he took Scott with him back to that slave state, where his master died. In 1846, Scott was helped by abolitionist (anti-slavery) lawyers to sue for his freedom in court, CLAIMING HE SHOULD BE FREE SINCE HE HAD LIVED ON FREE SOIL FOR A LONG TIME.
Who was his owner? Dr. John Emerson was the owner of Dred Scott. He was a doctor in the United States army. The army REQUIRED him to move throughout the United States. He did not decide to move on his own. When he died, ownership of Dred Scott and his family was transferred to his wife, Irene Emerson. She and her lawyers argued that Dred Scott was her property and that did not change because Dr. Emerson was required by the Army to live in a free state.
What Events Caused This? Emerson is transferred back to Missouri – A Slave State He passes away shortly after. Emerson is stationed in Missouri – A Slave State Emerson is transferred to Illinois – A Non-Slave State Emerson is transferred to Wisconsin – A Non-Slave State
The Two Sides of the Argument • Dred Scott • Lived in a non-slave state and territory and thinks that he should be considered a free man. • Irene Emerson • Slaves are property. • Dr. Emerson did not have a choice in where he lived… the army stationed him in the free state and territory.
1846-Scott’s first trial in St. Louis Circuit Court- Jury decides in favor of Mrs. Emerson. Dred Scott appeals. • 1850-Second trial- Jury decides in favor of Dred Scott. Mrs. Emerson appeals. • 1852- State Supreme Court of Missouri overrules Circuit Court. • 1853-1854- Scott files in U.S. Federal Court—Scott v. Sanford…The defendant had become John Sanford, who had become the executor of John Emerson's estate and had been given control over the case in 1850 when his sister, Irene, moved to Massachusetts.
Supreme Court • The Supreme Court ruling was handed down on March 6, 1857. Chief Justice Roger Taney delivered the opinion of the Court.
TASK- Complete the Primary Source Analysis of the Supreme Court Decision
What did the Supreme Court decide? • In March of 1857, Scott lost when the Supreme Court declared no slave or descendant of a slave could be a U.S. citizen, or ever had been a U.S. citizen. As a non-citizen, the court stated, Scott had no rights and could not sue in a Federal Court and must remain a slave. • In total, six Justices agreed with the ruling; Samuel Nelson agreed with the ruling but not its reasoning, and Benjamin Robbins Curtis and John McLean voted against it.
What did the Supreme Court decide? • The Supreme Court also ruled that Congress could not stop slavery in the newly emerging territories and declared the Missouri Compromise of 1820 to be unconstitutional. The Missouri Compromise prohibited slavery north of the parallel 36°30´ in the Louisiana Purchase. The Court declared it violated the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution which prohibits Congress from depriving persons of their property without due process of law.
Leading to War • How might this event have contributed to the start of the Civil War?