In 1857, an African American man named Dred Scott sued for his freedom in the Supreme Court. His owners brought him along on their trips across free states. Dred Scott failed in suing before his case was presented in the Supreme Court. Roger B. Taney was the fifth chief Justice of the United States when he wrote the Dred Scott vs Sandford decision. The Dred Scott vs Sandford case ended with the decision that African Americans, free and enslaved, had no rights and could not become citizens because they were property.
The Dred Scott vs. Sanford Supreme Court case has gone down in history as one of the most notorious cases and recognized as driving the country closer to civil war. The case became controversial in 1833, because Dr. John Emerson, purchased Dred Scott, and moved to the Wisconsin Territory. From the Missouri Compromise, slavery was banned in the Wisconsin Territory, therefore, making Scott a free man, right? After living there for a number of years Emerson moved to St. Louis and died in 1843 leaving Eliza Irene Sanford, Emerson’s wife, the owner of Scott and his family. When Scott asked for freedom, Stanford declined which lead to Scott suing the state court, where he won and was acknowledged as a free man.
To first understand why Mr. Dred Scott decided to sue for his freedom, we have to understand the prelude to his story. Even before Dred Scott was born a case in London was buzzing that would emancipate slaves and some historians believe the case contributed to increasing colonial support for separatism in the Thirteen Colonies of British North America, by parties on both sides of the slavery question who wanted to establish independent government and law (Britannica). The case was Somerset v. Stewart and it has been deemed one of the most important legal actions in the history of the antislavery movement (Weiner 71). The facts of the case were that James Somerset was a slave of Charles Stewart, an officer in the British colony of Boston in
Dred Scott was taken back into slavery and accused Sandford because Scott was in a free states and claimed that he was in the free state long enough to be a free slave. The Supreme court ruled against Dred Scott, this decision affected blacks preventing them to become citizens and an giving them the right to appeal to a jury and making it harder for a slave to escape because the free states didn’t make a runaway slave a free slave. The case also affected popular sovereignty. Where states got to choose if they were to be a free states or a slave
The Results of Dred Scott v Sanford had different effects on American history. This also contributed to the start of the civil war. Dred Scott v Sanford was a court decision on if Dred Scott could sue for his freedom. " According to Supreme Court History, Dred Scott could not sue for his freedom because he was not a citizen. " This was otherwise known as an illegal case.
After John died, Eliza Emerson, John’s wife, gave the custody of Dred and Harriet Scott to his brother, John Sanford. Dred Scott wanted to demand what all enslaved people wanted: his freedom. Soon after Dred Scott sued for his freedom. The court ruled that he would still have to be a slave because he was in a slave state. (Rawley 187)
The South was very threatened by this movement. Pro-slavery Southerners and abolitionists detested each other and refused to compromise with each others beliefs. In the “Declaration of the National Anti-Slavery Convention”, it states, “every American citizen who retains a human being in involuntary bondage as his property is (according to scripture) a MAN STEALER” (doc B). This quote illustrates how Northern abolitionists were extremely critical about anyone owning slaves and even implies that it is a sin to have slaves. The need of balance in the government and insistent extremists lead to many violent outbreaks.
Thus, the decision prevented free blacks from advancing in society. The constitution did not apply to them, which consequently developed a lot of confusion and created problems the future free blacks and slaves in the United States. Last of all, even though free blacks were considered as free men, the court failed to recognize them as citizens. This meant that free blacks still did not receive the rights they deserved. The Dred Scott decision was to define the free black’s status and define what rights they did and did not have, since the constitution did not apply to them.
Originally, as a new nation emerging, the United States was focused on building and stabilizing itself in order to seem powerful to foreign countries. However, as time went on, the North and the South disagreed over various issues and were eventually divided. Many events arose which worsened the split between the North and South after the Antebellum Era, resulting in the South seceding from the Union. The reason why Southern states seceded from the Union in 1860 and 1861 was the controversy over slavery between the North and the South. One main event that contributed to the controversy over slavery and the South’s secession was Abraham Lincoln’s election.
Dred Scott was born was a slave in the state of Virginia and was owned by Peter Blow, who died in 1832. Scott only had two masters after Blow’s death; one lived in Wisconsin and later Illinois, both of which prohibited slavery, yet, Scott didn’t petition for freedom. Instead he met his wife Harriet. The two met their new master in Louisiana, who did not grant them freedom, so Scott looked for legal action to escape his slavery. Over a period of seven years, he went through trial and retrial until he was denied his final freedom in 1854.
Decisions made in the 1850s ultimately decided the United States fate. From the election of 1856 to the Dred Scott case, the nation would become divided into two. The South was pro-slavery and supported the idea of slavery expanded into western territories, while the North opposed of the idea and was mainly against expanding slavery. Until the 1850s the nation barely balanced the slavery issue.
The trial of the Scottsboro boys was a trial that was the cause of two white women accusing nine black men of raping them. Their appeals, retrials, and legal proceedings attracted the attention of the nation and produced to Supreme Court rulings in their favor. The Scottsboro boys trial demonstrates that nonconformity to unjust practices can lead to justice for all people because their trial triggered The Supreme Court ruling that had a major impact on the American system of laws for the right to adequate counsel, the ruling for the right to not be excluded from a jury based on race, and still has a continuing effect in our own time which affirms the principle of equal protection under the law. Their case not only saved them from the death sentence but also started up debate about equal protection under the law such as in the first Supreme Court ruling.
Thesis Statement: In South Carolina, it was common for masters to own slaves, abuse them, give them harsh living conditions, and strict rules to follow. In response to the unfair conditions, slaves had uprisings or even ran away. Abraham Lincoln, the President at the time, wanted to end slavery, so he issued the Emancipation Proclamation which stated that slaves were both free in
States’ rights, the powers held by individual U.S. states rather than by the federal government, had been an issue since the ratification of the Constitution when some feared that the federal government had more power than the states and wanted an outline of the Americans’ basic liberties. During the lead up to the official outbreak of war, state powers were a matter that caused major conflict between the North and the South. When South Carolina seceded from the Union, they stated that the Northern states had “denied the rights of property established in fifteen of the States and recognized by the Constitution.” At this time, slaves were seen as property rather than humans, and the right to property was guaranteed by the fifth Amendment. Although the quote does not explicitly mention slavery, it can be seen that South Carolina seceded because the state had felt like its so-called entitlement to own slaves had been violated when Northern states began to disregard the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 which required all runaway slaves to be returned to their master even if they had escaped to a free state.