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Dred Scott Research Paper

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Dred Scott Research Paper
The Dred Scott Decision of 1857 ruled that African-Americans, even ones who were not enslaved, were not protected under The Constitution and could never be citizens. This brings up questions that will be answered in this paper. Should slaves be American citizens? Is it morally correct for one to own another human? Does the Dred Scott decision contradict The Declaration of Independence which states that every man is created equal?

Who was Dred Scott? Dred Scott was born in Virginia about 1799 of the Peter Blow family. He had spent his entire life as a slave. Dred Scott moved to St. Louis with the Blows in 1830, but was soon sold due to his master's financial problems. He was purchased by Dr. John Emerson, a military surgeon, and accompanied him to posts in Illinois and the Wisconsin Territory, where slavery had been prohibited by the Missouri Compromise of 1820. During this period, Dred Scott married Harriet Robinson, also a slave and they later had two children, Eliza and Lizzie. John Emerson married Irene Sanford during a brief stay in Louisiana. In 1842, the Scotts returned with Dr. and Mrs. Emerson in St. Louis. John Emerson died the following year, and it is believed that Mrs. Emerson hired out Dred Scott, Harriet, and their children to work for other families.

In 1846 Dred Scott and his wife filed suit against Irene Emerson for their freedom. It is not known for sure why he chose to file the suit, but historians first believed either he may have been dissatisfied with being hired out or Mrs. Emerson might have been planning to sell him. It was later learned that he had attempted to purchase his own freedom, but was refused. (1) At that time Missouri courts supported the doctrine of "once free, always free." Dred Scott could not read or write and had no money and it is believed that his original owners, the Blow family, backed him financially.

His first trial in state court ended in Scott losing his case on a technicality. The second trial



Bibliography: [N] Smith, Duane E., We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution (Calabasas: Center for Civic Education, 2002), 119. [N] Walter, Eric H., William Lowndes Yancy: The Coming of the Civil War (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2006), 205. [B] Walter, Eric H., William Lowndes Yancy: The Coming of the Civil War Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2006. [N] Robert C. Williams, Horace Greeley: Champion of American Freedom (New York: New York University Press, 2006), 191. [B] Robert C. Williams, Horace Greeley: Champion of American Freedom New York: New York University Press, 2006.

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