Dred Scott V. Sandford Essay

829 WordsMar 25, 20134 Pages
Sonia E. Osorio Amanda Turnbull Ms. Miller U.S. History I Enriched 25 February 2013 Dred Scott v. Sanford (1857) Slavery was at the root of the case of Dred Scott v. Sandford. Dred Scott sued his master to obtain freedom for himself and his family. His argument was that he had lived in a territory where slavery was illegal; therefore he should be considered a free man. Dred Scott was born a slave in Virginia around 1800. Scott and his family were slaves owned by Peter Blow and his family. He moved to St. Louis with them in 1830 and was sold to John Emerson, a military doctor. They went to Illinois and the Wisconsin territory where the Missouri Compromise of 1820 prohibited slavery. Dred Scott married and had two…show more content…
Sandford). Chief Justice Taney, who happened to be a former slave owner, gave the majority opinion, 7-2, ruling against Dred Scott. He also said as a person of African descent, Dred Scott was not a citizen and could not sue in federal court. He added that Scott had never been free, since slaves were considered personal property (Dred Scott v. Sanford 63). There were two Justices, McLean and Curtis, who disagreed. They argued that once the Court determined it had no jurisdiction to hear case, it had to dismiss it, not make a ruling. They also felt there was no Constitutional basis for the claim that blacks could not be citizens. When the Constitution was ratified, black men could vote in five of 13 states. This made them citizens of their states as well as the U.S (The Supreme Court) The Dred Scott decision was significant because it was the first time since Marbury v. Madison that the Supreme Court said an act of congress was unconstitutional. It said the congress had no power to ban slavery in the federal territories; therefore, the Missouri Compromise was unconstitutional. By doing this, the Court also said people in the territories had no right to decide whether their state should be a free or a slave state. This was known as popular sovereignty. The decision also hurt the new Republican Party which was trying to stop the spread of slavery. Further, this decision continued the conflict over slavery between the north and south and
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