Dred Scott: Introduction

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"Slavery is founded on the selfishness of man's nature--opposition to it on his love of justice. These principles are in eternal antagonism; and when brought into collision so fiercely as slavery extension brings them, shocks and throes and convulsions must ceaselessly follow." (Abraham Lincoln) [1]

During the 1850's in the United States, Southern support of slavery and Northern opposition to it collided more violently than ever before over the case of Dred Scott, a black slave from Missouri who claimed his freedom on the basis of seven years of residence in a free state and a free territory. When the predominately proslavery Supreme Court of the United States heard Scott's case and declared that not only was he still a slave but that the main law guaranteeing that slavery would not enter the new midwestern territories of the United States was unconstitutional, it sent America into convulsions. The turmoil would end only after a long and bloody civil war in which an important issue was the question of slavery and its extension into America's unorganized territories. The Supreme Court's ruling in Dred Scott v. Sandford helped hasten the arrival of the American Civil War, primarily by further polarizing the already tense relations between Northerners and Southerners.

  1. America in 1857
  2. Case Background
  3. In the Federal Judicial System
  4. The Supreme Court's Decision
  5. Republican Reaction
  6. Democratic Reaction
  7. The Impact of Dred Scott

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Adapted from A Hard Shove for a "Nation on the Brink": The Impact of Dred Scott, a research paper written for my eleventh grade American History course.

Copyright © 1998 Lisa Cozzens (lisa@www.watson.org ). Please read this before you email me!
URL for this page: http://www.watson.org/~lisa/blackhistory/scott/index.html
Last modified: Sun Oct 31, 1999