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Dred Scott v. John F.A. Sandford Essay

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Updated: Jul 23rd, 2021

In the nineteenth century, the United States’ history was filled with events that contributed to the nation’s political, economic, and social direction. One of the significant issues that the American public tried to solve was slavery – this problem was one of the dividing factors for the country’s citizens. A defining moment in escalating the tension between states happened in court in 1857 when arguments for slavery were both social and economic (Foner, 2016). People who supported slavery believed that Black people were not equal to white people and that slavery was beneficial to businesses (Foner, 2016). At that time, southern and northern states held different opinions on slavery, and their conflict grew tenser every day. As a result of the Missouri Compromise passed in 1820, some of the US states denounced slavery. Dred Scott, the plaintiff of Dred Scott v. John F.A. Sandford, was a slave who traveled with his owner to a free state (Dyer, 2018). He claimed that he has the right to freedom since they were living in a territory where slavery was illegal.

The court’s ruling is considered to be one of the worst legal decisions in American history. Dred Scott lost the case, and the Supreme Court announced that Black people could not be full citizens of the country, thus nullifying the case as a whole (Dyer, 2018). This conclusion further divided the states and largely contributed to the election of Lincoln and the following Civil War (Foner, 2016). This event was chosen because it is a single legal case that did not only show the inclinations of the court but also led to several significant changes in the American political system. It would be fascinating to learn how the court proceeded when discussing this case and what people who were present in the room thought about the issue.

References

Dyer, J. B. (2018). The substance of Dred Scott and Roe v Wade. The Georgetown Journal of Law & Public Policy, 16, 421-432.

Foner, E. (2016). Give me liberty! An American history (5th ed., Vol. 1). New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company.

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