The Dred Scott Decision

The Dred Scott v. Sanford Supreme Court case was a landmark decision in terms of slavery and anti-slavery arguments in antebellum America. Scott was a slave who was taken out of slave territory when his master, an army surgeon, moved to Illinois and then to Fort Snelling, in present-day Minnesota, during the 1830s. Scott sued for his freedom because he was taken out of slave territory, arguing that the Missouri Compromise prohibited slavery in Minnesota. The ruling in the case by Chief Justice Roger Taney stated that Scott and his family were slaves, not citizens, and did not have the right to sue in a federal court. In addition, the Court ruled that Scott's tenure in free territory did not make him a free man, and furthermore, that the Missouri Compromise was unconstitutional. Banning slavery conflicted with Article V of the Constitution, which stated that citizens could not be "deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law," and slaves were considered property. As a result of the ruling, proslavery advocates felt their stance was reinforced and had gained the sanction of the law, while anti-slavery forces were furious. Republicans in particular condemned the decision and its implications that slavery could spread to the north.

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