Essay about Dredd Scott Decision

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"Shocks, Throes, and Convulsions"

"Slavery is founded on the selfishness of man's nature--opposition to it on his love of justice. These principles are in eternal antagonism; and when brought into collision so fiercely as slavery extension brings them, shocks and throes and convulsions must ceaselessly follow." (Abraham Lincoln)[1]

America in 1857 was "A Nation on the Brink" as defined by Kenneth Stampp in his book with the same title. Relationships between the Northern and Southern states had been strained for decades, but during the 1840s and especially the 1850s, the situation exploded. Pro-slavery and antislavery forces clashed frequently and fatally in "Bleeding Kansas," while the
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He had strong legal backing for this declaration; the Supreme Court of Missouri had freed many slaves who had traveled with their masters in free states. In the Missouri Supreme Court's 1836 Rachel v. Walker ruling, it decided that Rachel, a slave taken to Fort Snelling and to Prairie du Chien in Illinois, was free. By the early 1850s, however, sectional conflict had arisen again uglier than ever, and most Missourians did not encourage the freeing of slaves. The Missouri Supreme Court ruled against Scott in 1852. He then took his case out of the state judicial system and into the federal judicial system by bringing it to the U.S. Circuit Court for the District of Missouri.

At this point in the case, Scott's possession had been transferred to John Sanford which changed the case from Scott v. Emerson to Scot v. Sandford [different spelling due to a clerical error]. The case resumed in 1854 in the United States Circuit Court. Judge Robert W. Wells, "a slaveholder who nevertheless regarded slavery as a barrier to progress," presided over the trial[2]. Though Scott was deemed to be a citizen, Sanford countered that even if Scott had gained his freedom while residing in Illinois, he had regained his slave status upon returning to Missouri. This defense proved successful and the jury decided in favor of Sanford.

The next step for Scott was to take his case to the highest tribunal in the country: the United States
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