Scott v. Sandford (1857)

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Scott v. Sandford (1857)

Dred Scott was held as a slave to Missouri resident Dr. John Emerson. In1834 Scott traveled with Dr. Emerson to the state of Illinois, and in 1836 to areas of present day Minnesota only to finally return back to Missouri in 1838. Slavery was forbidden in the state of Illinois and under the Missouri Compromise of 1820 was also forbidden in the traveled areas of Minnesota. Upon the death of his owner, Scott sued for his freedom on the grounds that since slavery was outlawed in the free territories he had temporarily resided in, he had become a “free” man there. While an initial ruling by a lower state court declared him free, this ruling was later overturned by the Missouri Supreme Court eventually leading the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Before addressing whether Scott was able to be deemed “free” or not, the first dispute to address arose over if a slave even had the standing/legal right to sue in a federal court. This was a question over the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction. If Scott had this right, the Court had jurisdiction and the justices would be able to decide the merit of his claim, however, if not they could just dismiss the case. It was after settling this that the Court could move on to whether or not a single State had the power to make a slave a free citizen of not only that State, but all others as well. It was the Missouri Compromise of 1820 which declared that slavery was p...

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