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Dred Scott

An exploration of the infamous Dred Scott case that inflamed the Union, foreshadowing the Civil War

Eliza Dillaway

on 4 May 2011

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Transcript of Dred Scott

Dred Scott Born 1800, owned by Peter Blow
of Virginia Timeline of Scott preceeding case Travels with master from Virginia
to Alabama to Missouri 1830 1832 Blow dies, Scott bought by army
surgeon Dr. John Emerson 1833 Scott and Emerson go to free state of Illinois 1836 Emerson and Scott move to free territory of Wisconsin; Scott marrys slave Harriet Robinson and her ownership is transferred to Emerson 1838 Army transfers Emerson to Missouri, then Louisiana 1839 Emerson, now married, summons the slave couple, who travel alone down South to master 1843 Emerson dies; his wife, Eliza Emerson, hires Scott out to a local army captain At this point, Scott tries to buy freedom for him and his wife (300$, or $6936.48 nowadays), however Mrs. Emerson refuses. Scott sues her THE CASE In 1847, Scott went to court but lost because he couldn't prove him and Harriet were owned by Eliza Emerson The Missouri Supreme Court decided the case should be retried; In 1850, the St. Louis Circuit found Scott and family free In 1852, the Missouri Supreme Court reversed the ruling of the lower court Then, in 1854, Scott and his lawyers appeal to the United States Circuit Court in Missouri which upholds the most recent decision of MSC Scott and his lawyers appeal to United States Supreme Court by 1856 PATH TO SUPREME COURT Constitutional Issues • Did a slave have the right to sue? • Could Congress take away a citizen’s right to property (slave) without due process of the law or without giving substantial compensation? • 5th amendment: “…nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation” [slaves as property] • Was the Missouri Compromise (no slavery above 36˚ 30’) constitutional? Sides Plaintiff Defendent Lawyer: Montgomery Blair, George T. Curtis
Believed Scott became a free man during his time spent in the free-states of Wisconsin and Illinois due to the Missouri Compromise. DRED SCOTT JOHN F. SANDFORD Lawyer:
Reverdy Johnson, Henry S. Geyer
Slaves were property and would remain slaves wherever they were brought by their owner. The 5th amendment prohibits Congress from depriving a person of property without compensation. THE DECISION For Sandford (7) For Scott (2) March 6th, 1857 James Moore Wayne Roger B. Taney (cheif justice) John Catron Peter Vivian Daniel Samuel Nelson Robert Cooper Grier Benjamin R. Curtis John Mclean John Archibald Campbell "The defendant pleaded in abatement to the jurisdiction of the court, that the plaintiff was not a citizen of the State of Missouri, as alleged in his declaration, being a negro of African descent, whose ancestors were of pure African blood, and who were brought into this country and sold as slaves. To this plea the plaintiff demurred, and the defendant joined in demurrer. The court overruled the plea, and gave judgment that the defendant should answer over. And he thereupon put in sundry pleas in bar, upon which issues were joined; and at the trial the verdict and judgment were in his favor." A demurrer is a pleading in a lawsuit that objects to or challenges a pleading filed by an opposing party "abatement to the jurisdiction" meaning reduction of jurisdiction; saying the court didn't have jurisdiction (because not a citizen to citizen case because Scott not a citizen -Roger B. Taney, in delivering the opinion of the Court MORE OPINION "A free negro of the african race, whose ancestors were brought to this country and sold as slaves, is not a 'citizen' within the meaning of the Constitution." Scott, therefore, did not have the right to sue in federal court. "The Constitution of the United States recognizes slaves as property, and pledges the Federal Government to protect it. And Congress cannot exercise anymore authority over property of that description than it may constitutionally over property of any other kind." "A slave does not become entitled to his freedom when the owner takes him to reside in a State where slavery is not permitted and afterwards brings him back to Missouri" Slaves were property despite being in a free state; this overrules the Missouri Compromise Scott vs. Sandford Thus, the precedent is set that all blacks, free or slave, were not and never could be US citizens. Also, by declaring the Missouri Compromise unconstitutional, slavery is permitted in all of the US's territories

Isn't this a significant deterrent from abolitionists previous progress in obtaining rights for African Americans? Dissent Curtis sites obitera dicta: court decidedly didn't have jurisdiction and therefore shouldn't pass judgement Curtis and MClean asserted that the Court didn't have to overturn the Missouri Compromise in deciding the opinion of the Court At the time, blacks could vote in 13 states, so did this opinion fit in the realm of the time? To answer, MClean asserts that the decision was "more a matter of taste than of law Consequences uncertain speculation over slavery in the West loss of political power in the North Taney believed the slavery issue was settled completely now, because set by law therefore no longer opinon of politics encouraged South to make bolder demands and assertions the strengthened opposition in the North divides the Northern and Southern democrats, therefore making the Republicans unified Reaction Freeport Doctrine- Stephen Douglas strongly asserts that territories could refuse ruling by popular support, more specifically, making the ruling impossible to uphold Democrats see Republicans as lawless men provoking Disunion Happy Ending
The sons of Peter Blow buy Scott, Harriet, and his two daughters Eliza and Lizzie. They emancipate them immediately [May 26, 1857]
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