Dred Scott Decision

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Slavery has been such a controversial topic throughout our country’s history. One of the best examples of conflict stemming from this issue was the Dred Scott decision. In this paper, I would like to discuss the differing arguments between Dred Scott, an enslaved man who tried to win freedom for himself and his family, and Chief Justice, Roger B. Taney, who delivered the majority opinion in the case that declared Dred Scott and all African American slaves were not citizens, therefore were not entitled to the rights of other ordinary citizens in the United States of America (Friedman 124). I will also research and present the evidence used by both men to provide a basis for their individual case arguments.

Dred Scott and his slave master, Dr. John Emerson, a military surgeon who had purchased Mr. Scott from his original owner, Mr. Peter Blow, lived in the state of Missouri before the Army ordered Dr. Emerson to serve at bases in Illinois and the Wisconsin territory. Dr. Emerson took Dred Scott along with him to the various bases which were located in a state and a territory that were free in that they did not allow slavery. Dred Scott lived in these “free” areas for some twelve years before the Army ordered Dr. Emerson to return to their home in Missouri. Upon Emerson’s death, Scott and his family were hired out to work for other families by Emerson’s widow who withheld his money. This upset Dred Scott and lead to his attempt to sue her for his freedom. Scott argued that under the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, Illinois and the Wisconsin territory prohibited slavery and therefore, having once resided on free soil for twelve years should, in turn, make him free. Other than the Northwest Ordinance, the Missouri Compromise had also stated that slavery was illegal in the Wisconsin Territory(Napolitano 15-37).

Other arguments Scott presented were rulings of previous, similar cases. One of which was Somersett v. Stewart. This was the judgement of the...
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