The Infamous Dred Scott Decision Essay

The Infamous Dred Scott Decision Essay

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According to the Declaration of Independence, signed in 1776, "[...] all men are created equal, [and] they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." One would then expect that every man, would be entitled to their freedom, and it was true, for all white men. African-Americans, however, faced a very different reality. They were still forced into slavery, they were deprived of those rights that all men were meant to have. While the north states opposed slavery, it was permitted in the south, and as the slavery issue raged on, one man would stand to fight for his freedom. His case, would go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Court's decision would divide the nation.
Dred Scott, a man of African descent, was born in slavery between 1795 and 1800, in Southampton County, Virginia. In 1833, sold by his original owner, he became the property of Dr.John Emerson, a military surgeon stationed in Jefferson Barracks, south of St.Louis. Over the next decade,Dr. Emerson took Scott, as he was reappointed to new posts in Illinois and the Wisconsin Territory, both free territories by the Missouri Compromise. During this decade, Scott met and married Harriet Robinson, also a slave. John Emerson, also married a woman named Eliza Irene Sanford, daughter of a wealthy Virginia manufacturer, in 1838. In December 1842, shortly after returning to St.Louis, Dr. Emerson died of tuberculosis. His widow, Irene, inherited his entire state and decided to hire out Scott and his family to other families in St.Louis. Finally,after enduring 3 years of separation working for different families, the Scotts took their first step towards being free.
In 1846,after an uns...

... middle of paper ...

...hey believed it gave the south the power to expand slavery past their borders and “[threatened] the economic aspirations of free white laborers.”# Although Taney intended to end the slavery debate between the north and south, the Court’s decision had the opposite effect. It further widened the already abysmal gap between the two sides.


Nayden, Corine, and Rose Blue. Dred Scott: Person or Property, New York: Benchmark Books, 2005.

Currie, Stephen. The Struggle for Equality:Landmark Court Cases, Minnesota: Lucent Books, 2010.

McNeese, Tim. Dred Scott v. Sandford: The Pursuit of Freedom, New York: Chelsea House, 2007.

Missouri Digital Heritage: Collections : Dred Scott Case, 1846-1857. Missouri Secretary of State Home Page. 2007. Web. 08 June 2010. .

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