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Dred Scott v. Sandford

(This page was developed by a Berea College student as part of a course on Chesnutt)

Leading up to the case:

Dr. John Emerson, a citizen of Missouri (a slave state) and a slave owner, was the owner of Dred Scott and his family. In1834, Dr. Emerson moved to a free state taking Scott and his family along. They remained in a free state or territory for the next four years (Illinois: a free state; Missouri: a free territory). In 1838, Emerson moved back to Missouri and lived there until his death in 1843. The Scotts were left to Emerson's widow who sold them to her brother, John Sanford (Sandford). Scott began a ten-year battle for his freedom, and sued Sandford by contending that he was had lived in a free place for four years. Sandford countered by saying that a slave was neither a citizen of Missouri nor the United States, therefore, couldn't sue in their courts. The Missouri Court and Federal Court held for Sandford. Chief Justice Roger Taney gave the 7-2 decision which sided with Sandford.

Dred Scott was finally freed on May 26, 1857 because an abolitionist, Taylor Blow, purchased him from John Sandford. However, his freedom was short-lived since he died in 1858.


The Thirteenth Amendment is sometimes called the "Dred Scott Amendment." It was enacted in 1865, and prohibits slavery. It states: " Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction. All former slaves gained citizenship of not only their state of residence but the United States as well when the Fourteenth Amendment was enacted in 1868.


Reference: All information on this page was found in the book: Civil Rights Decisions of the United States Supreme Court: The 19th Century.

Editors: Maureen Harrison & Steve Gilbert
Excellent Books. San Diego, CA. 1994