Subversive Historian – 03/06/09

The Dred Scott Decision

Back in the day on March 6th, 1857, the United States Supreme Court ruled that Dred Scott, an African-American man, was not a citizen, could never become a citizen, and thus had no right to sue the federal government for his freedom and must remain enslaved. Scott, after ten years of lower court decisions and appeals, maintained that he was a freedman after having lived a number of years with his owners in the slavery-free state of Illinois as well as the then-territory of Wisconsin before returning to the south. This most dreadful 7-2 decision in Scott v. Sandford also stipulated that the Missouri Compromise was unconstitutional on the grounds that Congress could make any such laws depriving individuals of their “property” without due process.

Of course, in the minds of the justices, of which five were from slave-owning families, people like Dred Scott and his wife were “property” and not human beings entitled to freedom.


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