Dred Scott vs. Sanford 1857
Born a slave to the Peter Blow family in 1799 Virginia, Dred Scott makes an action that is now considered a pivotal moment in early American history and the worst Supreme Court decision in American history, as he plans to sue his slave owner for his freedom. Growing up on the Blow farm, Dred Scott never learned to read or write, and he spent his whole life without this knowledge. In 1820 a law is passed, along with the annexation of Missouri as a slave state, which states that no territories above 36°30’ are permitted to have slaves. Ten years after Missouri becomes a slave state, the Blow family moves to St. Louis and Scott is sold to military surgeon John Emerson. Dr. Emerson is moved from St. Louis to Illinois and the Wisconsin Territory over the next twelve years and Scott marries Harriet Robinson and they have two children. In 1842, the Emersons returned to St. Louis, and a year later, in 1843, Dr. Emerson died and the Scotts are hired out to other families in St.Louis. In 1846, Dred Scott sues Mrs. Emerson for his family’s freedom in the St. Louis Circuit Court but loses and is told that he can refile the case. He returns in 1850 and the court rules in favor of the Scotts’ freedom due to the years of residency in Illinois and the Wisconsin Territory, which are non-slave areas. The case is appealed by Mrs. Emerson, who doesn’t want to lose such marketable property, and returns them to slavery. Scott, now supported by anti-slavery lawyers, files the suit with the U.S. Federal Court. Since John Sanford, Mrs. Emerson’s brother, is the defendant and lives in New York, the case has to be filed in the Federal Court because he is out of the jurisdiction of Missouri. Therefore, the court rules against Dred Scott and he appeals it to the Supreme Court. The court ruled that Scott and all other slaves were not citizens of the U.S. therefore he could not be supported in the case. They also ruled that...
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