The Supreme Court decided to address the slave question in the Dred Scott case. The case involved a Missouri slave, Dred Scott, whose owner had taken him into the federal territory north of Missouri, which was a free territory under the Missouri Compromise.
After four years, Scott returned with his owner to Missouri. Following the death of his owner, Dred Scott sued his new owner in the Missouri courts for freedom on the ground he had gained his freedom by living in federal, non-slave territory. The Missouri Supreme Court ruled against Scott. He appealed to the federal court in Missouri, which denied jurisdiction over the case. The case was decided by the Supreme Court in Dred Scott v. Sandford in 1857.
- Why was slavery such a divisive issue in the United States? What were the interests which the various sides were pursuing (apart from the moral arguments they were making to justify their position)?
- Are there issues in politics today which are dividing the county in the way that slavery did in the 19thcentury? How might the war have been avoided, given the depth of feeling on both sides?
This reading is an excerpt from Certell’s Common Sense American History eBook. Certell offers curriculum materials and eBooks free of charge for students and teachers. Click here to download the Common Sense American History materials.
6, Dec. 2013 The Dred Scott Case [Digital image]. Retrieved from < youtube.com/watch?v=OML9AVR10PQ>.