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Community Advocacy Organization

A Look in The Mirror - Dred Scott (1795 – 1858) Reformer


Dred Scott was an African-American man who was enslaved. He and his wife Harriet tried to seek freedom in 1857, but they were denied it. The case is known as the Dred Scott decision. It involved the Scott family's two daughters, Lizzie and Eliza.


They claimed that they should be freed due to Dred's time in Wisconsin and Illinois, where slavery was illegal. Slavery was prohibited in these areas, and laws stated that people who lived there for a long time gave up their rights to their servants.


The Supreme Court of the United States ruled against Dred Scott, stating that he and other African-Americans were not allowed to claim citizenship in the country. This prevented him from bringing his case in federal court.


Scott's temporary residence outside Missouri did not allow him to seek freedom. The Compromise, which created that free territory, was unconstitutional since it deprived citizens of their rights without due process of law. Although Chief Justice Roger A. Taney had hoped that this ruling would settle various issues related to congressional authority and slavery, it resulted in widespread public outrage and contributed to the tensions between the southern and northern states.


The decision was nullified by President Lincoln's 1863 Emancipation Proclamation and the subsequent amendments to the Constitution. In May 1857, the Scotts were emancipated through a private arrangement. Dred died a year later due to tuberculosis.

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