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Dred Scott Desicion

Uploaded by celticspride33 on May 30, 2000

The Dred Scott decision was an important ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States that had a significant influence on the issue of slavery. The case was decided in 1857 and, in effect, declared that no black--free or slave--could claim United States citizenship. Slaves were viewed as property, and such had no individual right. Furthermore, the decision indicated that Congress could not prohibit slavery in United States territories. I believe that the decision was morally wrong and failed to recognize the rights of people to be free. In addition, the ruling had many political and social implications, aroused angry resentment in the North and led the nation a step closer to civil war. The decision was finally overridden after the Civil War with the introduction and passage of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. This amendment, adopted in 1868, extended citizenship to former slaves and gave them the benefit and protection of individual rights. (textbook, 295)

The Dred Scott the decision involved a slave owned by U.S. Army surgeon, John Emerson. Emerson lived in Missouri, a state that permitted slavery. In 1834, Scott went to live with Emerson in Illinois, a state that prohibited slavery. They later lived in the Wisconsin Territory, where slavery was forbidden by the Missouri Compromise. In 1838, Scott returned to Missouri with Emerson. Emerson died in Missouri in 1843, and three years later, Scott sued the surgeon's widow for his freedom.

Scott based his suit on the argument that his former residence in a free state and a free territory--Illinois and Wisconsin--made him a free man. A state circuit court ruled in Scott's favor, but the Missouri Supreme Court later reversed the decision. Meanwhile, Scott had become legally regarded as the property of John F. A. Sanford of New York. Because Sanford did not live in Missouri, Scott's lawyers were able to transfer the case to a federal court. This court ruled against Scott, and his lawyers then took the case to the Supreme Court. By a majority of 7 to 2, the Supreme Court ruled that Scott could not bring a suit in a federal court. Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, speaking for the majority, declared that Scott could not do so because blacks were not U.S. citizens.

The court could have simply dismissed the case after ruling on Scott's citizenship. But there was a growing national desire for a ruling on the constitutionality...

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Uploaded by:   celticspride33

Date:   05/30/2000

Category:   American History

Length:   4 pages (963 words)

Views:   1352

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