Dred Scott - Essay Example

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Dred Scott case can be said to be the worst decision that the United States Supreme Court has ever rendered that it even become the catalyst of the American Civil War. In the Dred Scott case, the United States Supreme Court decided that all people of African descent could not…
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Teacher The case of Dredd Scott and its importance leading to the Civil War Dred Scott case can be said to be the worst decision thatthe United States Supreme Court has ever rendered that it even become the catalyst of the American Civil War. In the Dred Scott case, the United States Supreme Court decided that all people of African descent could not be American citizens, regardless if they are slave or free. Therefore, people of African descent such as Dred Scott could not sue the government for his freedom.
As a person, Dred Scots was a slave who was first owned by Peter Blow in Missouri. He was then purchased by John Emerson and took Scott in Illinois which was a free state that prohibited slavery under the Northwest Ordinance of 1787. In 1836, Emerson moved to Wisconsin which is now Minnesota where again slavery was prohibited under the Missouri Compromise. During their stay at Fort Snelling, Emerson acquired a slave Harriet Robinson which Emerson married.
In 1843, Emerson died and his widow hired Scott out an army action when Scott first sought freedom for himself and his wife. He first attempted to buy his freedom from Mrs. Emerson for $300 but was declined. After the refusal, Scott turned to the courts for his freedom.
The trial begun in June of 1847. He lost because he could not prove that he and his wife Harriet were owned by Mrs. Emerson. He then sought for retrial in 1850 at St. Louis circuit court which ruled that Scott and his wife were free. This decision however was overturned after two years when the Missouri Supreme Court reversed the decision of the lower court. Scott then elevated the case to a federal court, the United States Circuit Court in Missouri. Unfortunately, the court upheld the Missouri Supreme Court decision.
Dred Scott now has to make his last appeal at the United States Supreme Court.  The majority of the justices however were pro-slavery being appointed by Presidents from the South where five came from slave-holding families. The main argument at the Supreme Court was whether Scott’s was indeed a citizen.
The United States Supreme Court ruled in March of 1857 by Chief Justice Robert B. Taney who wrote also the decision of the court. The decision stated that since Dred was of African descent, a Negro, he was therefore not a citizen of the United States and it follows that he has no right to seek redress to the court for his freedom. At the same time, the decision also declared the Missouri Compromise of 1820which prohibited slavery in selected states to be unconstitutional.
The Supreme Court decision was received with mix reactions. In the South, this was a welcome decision being a staunch supporter of slavery. In the North however, the decision triggered a social unrest. Historians also agreed that this decision was instrumental for Abraham Lincoln’s nomination to the Republican Party and his ascension to the Presidency. It also caused the South’s secession from the Union which started the Civil War. Scott and his wife on the other hand was later purchased by the sons of Peter Blow after the Supreme Court decision and set them free. Read More
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