The Dred Scott Decision 1857

The Dred Scott Decision 1857

The Dred Scott Decision 1857
The Dred Scott Decision 1857 – Dred Scott, c. 1857.

Dred Scott (c. 1800–1858), Harriet Robinson (c. 1815–1876), Irene Emerson (1815–1903), Roger Taney (1777–1864)

The question of whether slavery would be tolerated in new territory has posed a danger to the Union since the 1780s. Many sacrifices have been made throughout the years to avoid disunity. But, what does the Constitution say about this? In the case of DRED SCOTT VS. SANDFORD, this topic was presented before the Supreme Court in 1857. DRED SCOTT was a slave of John Emerson, an army surgeon. In the 1830s, Scott was transferred from Missouri to positions in Illinois and what is now Minnesota for a period of time before returning to Missouri. The Missouri Compromise of 1820 designated the territory around MINNESOTA to be a free state.

Scott petitioned for his release in 1846, claiming that he had spent a significant amount of time in a free state and a free area. After eleven years, his case was finally heard by the Supreme Court. Answers to vital problems, like as slavery in the territories and African-American citizenship, were on the line. The judgment was shocking.

Scott’s two-year “sojourn” in Illinois and the Northwest Territory, the Court decided, did not make him free after he returned to Missouri.

Scott was also denied the right to sue because he was a black man who was denied citizenship in the United States. According to the Court’s ruling, African-Americans were not included among the “SOVEREIGN PEOPLE” who drafted the Constitution.

In addition, the Court determined that Congress never had the authority to abolish slavery in any region. Slavery was illegal under the Fifth Amendment, which made it illegal to deny property rights without due process of law.

As a result, the Missouri Compromise was ruled illegal.

ROGER B. TANEY, the Chief Justice of the United States, and four other southern justices on the Court were previous slave owners. The only Republicans on the nine-member Court were the two dissenting judges. The north refused to accept a judgement by a Court controlled by “Southern fire-eaters,” as they saw it. Many Northerners, including Abraham Lincoln, believed that the next step would be for the Supreme Court to rule that no state, regardless of its intentions or laws, could exclude slavery under the Constitution.

The Congress and the President, two of the three arms of government, had failed to address the problem. Now, the Supreme Court has issued a ruling that is only recognized in the southern half of the United States. Is the American experiment coming to an end? The Democratic Party, the only national political entity with combined northern and southern power, was now fracturing at the seams. The Union’s situation appeared to be dismal.

SEE ALSO:

The Amistad (1839);

The Emancipation Proclamation (1863);

The Abolition of Slavery (1865).

Sources:

The Dred Scott Decision 1857

The Law Book: From Hammurabi to the International Criminal Court, 250 Milestones in the History of Law (Sterling Milestones) Hardcover – Illustrated, 22 Oct. 2015, English edition by Michael H. Roffer (Autor)

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