The Significance of Dred Scott

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History 201
Dr. Eugenie Blang
The Significance of Dred Scott
Many times during our class discussions and lectures we tried to examine the stages leading up to the succession and Civil War in America. During the critical time period of the middle 19th century, the Dred Scott v. Sanford decision of the Supreme Court was one of those major treads on the pathway to secession. The man Dred Scott was taken to Missouri with Peter Blow as a slave from Virginia and sold. His new master from Missouri then moved to the free state of Illinois for a while, but later moved back to Missouri. Following his master 's passing, Scott asserted that since he had resided in a free state, he was inevitably a free citizen.
Dred Scott,
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The first question was partially addressed by Article IV, Section 2 of the Constitution and by the Fugitive Slave Acts of 1793 and 1850; however the second question had not as yet been addressed. During the 1830s and 1840s a slave by the name of Dred Scott accompanied his master, a surgeon in the U.S. Army, on numerous trips to military posts around the country, including the free states of Illinois and the territory of Wisconsin.
In 1846 Scott sued his master for his freedom, asserting that his sojourns in free jurisdictions made him free. After numerous delays, trials, and retrials, the case reached the Supreme Court in 1856. The court responded with nine separate opinions, and Chief Justice Roger Brook Taney delivered the deciding opinion. The ruling was both complex and controversial: the Missouri Compromise of 1820 was ruled unconstitutional on the grounds that Congress did not have authority to limit the expansion of slavery; slavery was found to be legal in the territories until the citizens voted for or against it; and Africans and their descendants were found to be ineligible for citizenship in the United States as the framers of the Constitution had not viewed Africans as citizens. Since African Americans were not viewed by the court as citizens, they could not file suit. Despite the finality of the court 's
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