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March 6, 1857
Dred Scott Case Decided



Washington, D. C. - Dred Scott v. Sandford was decided, by the United States Supreme Court. Sandford was a clerical error on the case. The real name was Sanford.

Dred Scott was born in 1799, in Virginia, enslaved. Scott's enslaver was Peter Blow. In 1818, Blow moved to Huntsville, Alabama. He took Scott and five (5) other enslaved people with him. Blow farmed, with Scott, until 1830.

In 1830, Blow moved to St. Louis, Missouri. Blow sold Scott to U.S. Army surgeon, Dr. John Emerson. Emerson sent Scott to Fort Armstrong, in Illinois. At the time, Illinois was a 'free' state.

Illinois had no law for slavery, in its state constitution. Yet, the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793 made slave catching legal in 'free' states. This gave whites the power to enslave 'free' Black Americans and send them to slave states. 'Free' states never punished slave owners in its borders.

In 1836, Emerson moved. He took Scott, to Fort Snelling in the Wisconsin territory (now Minnesota). It was a 'free' territory. There, Scott married Harriet Robinson. She was enslaved, to a different white man.

On February, 1838, Emerson was sent to Fort Jesup in Louisiana. There, Emerson married Eliza Irene Sanford. Scott and Robinson stayed in the Wisconsin territory. Emerson hired out their services while he was away.

In Louisiana, Emerson sent for Scott and Robinson. On the way, Robinson gave birth to Eliza. Eliza was born on the Mississippi River, in 'free' territory. It is unclear how Emerson enslaved Robinson.

In late 1838, Emerson returned to Fort Snelling. In 1840, Sanford took Scott and Robinson to St. Louis, Missouri.

By 1843, Emerson had left the army. He died in Iowa territory. Sanford, his wife, inherited his entire estate. This included Scott and Robinson.

In 1846, Scott tried to buy his family's freedom from Sanford, but she refused. Scott went to court. Since Scott's family had been in 'free' areas, he said they should be free.

The United States Supreme Court ruled against Scott. They ruled only whites were United States citizens. Black Americans, free or not, were subjects of white rule. Enslaved Black Americans were merchandise. No Black American, mulatto, nor Indian was a citizen.

The court hoped to settle the slave question. Instead, it set the stage for the American Slavery War (1861-1865).

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