Dred Scott vs. Sanford

Background of This Case

Dred Scott was an African American slave who's owner worked as a physician in the military. As a result, they moved very often and lived for a while in the state of Illinois and in the territory of Wisconsin from 1833 to 1843. Both places were slave-free zones because of the Missouri Compromise of 1820. In 1846, the physician died and Scott continued living in Missouri. He continued working for the family and the physican's brother, John Sanford, who was a citizen of New York. Scott sued the family for his freedom because he resided in a free state and a free territory, which made him a free man. He sued because they didn't want to give him his freedom. In many of the states and in Europe there was a common law that any slave who teaveled legally to a free area automatically became free.

Decision and Precedent set by this Case

The Supreme Court decided the case on March 6th and March 7th of 1857. Chief Justice Roger B. Taney was the speaker for the seven-justicce majority. He gave his own opinion of the Framers' "original intent". "The only rights and privileges African Americans were meant to have were those granted by their 'owners' or by the government. Therefore, Dred Scott could not be a citizen." - Cheif Justice Roger B. Taney.
The Court was saying that a suit by a non-citizen and the Missouri Compromise were unconstitutional.
This ruling added to the tensions that led to the Civil War, which led to the abolition of slavery.

Constitutional Significance

In 1868, which was three years after the end of the Civil War, the Fourteenth Amendment was added to the Constitution. This amendment overruled the decision of the Dred Scott Case. This amendment defined a U.S. citizen as anyone "born or naturalized in the United States". It also guarantees all citizens "equal protection of the laws". The Thirteenth Amendment, however, officially outlawed slavery in the United States and freed African Americans. Also, it outlawed any form of forced labor, except as a punishment for a crime. The Fifteenth Amendment prohibits any restrictions put on the right to vote based on color or race.

Important Terms/ Concepts Related to this Case

1. Abolishment of Slavery
2. Civil War

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