Dredd Scott Decision Essay

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INTRODUCTION United States Supreme Court case Scott v. Sanford (1857), commonly known as the Dred Scott Case, is probably the most famous case of the nineteenth century (with the exception possibly of Marbury v. Madison). It is one of only four cases in U. S. history that has ever been overturned by a Constitutional amendment (overturned by the 13th and 14th Amendments). It is also, along with Marbury, one of only two cases prior to the Civil War that declared a federal law unconstitutional. This case may have also been one of the most, if not the most, controversial case in American history, due simply to the fact that it dealt an explosive opinion on an issue already prepared to erupt - slavery. Thus, many scholars assert that the…show more content…
In April of 1846, Dred and Harriet Scott filed a suit for "freedom" against Irene Emerson in the Circuit Court of St. Louis County, obviously under the jurisdiction of Missouri law. The established legal principle of Missouri at this time regarding slavery was "once free, always free". In other words, to the Missouri courts, what Scott was doing was perfectly acceptable due to the precedent of the Missouri case Rachael v. Walker (1837), which basically stated that if a slave was taken by his or her master to a free state that slave was then "entitled to freedom by virtue of residence in the free state or territory" [Oxford, 761]. On account of this alone, Scott and his wife would have been freed when the case came to trial in 1847, however there was a problem of hearsay evidence in the case and the judge declared it a mistrial. It was not until three years later in 1850 that the court was able to correct the problem and unfalteringly sided with the Scott's and ordered them freed, citing that once he had been in free territory, he was indirectly freed and remained freed. By this time Mrs. Emerson had married, moved to New England with her new husband, and left these affairs and ownership of the Scotts to her brother, John F. A. Sanford. After Scott was declared free by the courts, Sanford sought an appeal from the Missouri Supreme Court. In 1852 in, Scott v. Emerson, the Missouri Supreme Court reversed the decision by the lower court seeing this case now not as the
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