It is 1857, and the end of the fiery 1850s. Everyone knew War is coming - not if but when! The only thing the American Government was talking about was slavery! The slavery debate consumed the country! Everyone took a side! The Abolitionist wanted slavery to end now! And they posed a great question! They asked if you are a slave living in free territory - doesn't that make you free?
Now they needed someone who fits the question. They found Dred Scott! He fit the question. Scott was a slave living in free territory. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court, and the decision made effects on this country that was felt far and wide!
The name of the case tells a lot! Most of the court were Southern Democrats, and sympathized with slavery. The name should be Scott v. Sanford. Every case is the last names, Roe v. Wade and McCullough v. Maryland to name a few. The court did not see Dred Scott as a human being - so they used his whole name. So thing are already stacked against him.
Chief Justice Roger Taney
Chief Justice Taney gave the decision of the court, and this is considered to have tainted the court. The court said slaves were not citizens of the United States so they would not hear the case, but they would make a ruling. They ruled 3 things:
1. They answered the question. They decided born a slave, you are a slave no matter where you live!
2. Slaves are not US Citizens.
3. Slavery cannot be excluded from federal territory. This made the Republican Party and Missouri Compromise unconstitutional.
The Republican party at this time was a one issue party - slavery. Hard to imagine a political party only talking about one thing! Before this case their platform was keep slavery where it already exists, but do not extend it. They were trying to find a common ground with the south - a compromise. But this was the worst thing they could say! But now with Dred Scott v. Sanford they have to go back to tthe drawing board!
This is the territory the court was talking about.
This case was pure politics that sided with slavery. It did not heal the situation, but made things worse. It was because of this case the 14th Amendment was created. This Amendment gave the newly freedmen their citizenship, and now this amendment ensures every Americans rights!
Good news Dred Scott was granted his freedom later when his master died!