3/6 The U.S. Supreme Court – Vs – Dred Scott Decision ruled that blacks could not sue in federal court to be citizens

The Case of Dred Scott in the United States Supreme Court

In an infamous decision, the US Supreme Court ruled in 1857 that American negros were not US citizens and that they couldn’t hear his case. Not only that but as Dred Scott was a slave, he was the property of his masters and the court ruled it could not take property away without compensation.

Born a slave and for many years owned by an army officer, Dred Scott had lived in Wisconsin, where slavery was banned. After his owner’s death he tried to purchase his freedom but was refused and his case, based on the fact he had lived in Wisconsin, worked it way through the Missouri state courts before reaching the US Supreme Court.

The case shows the tension between the north and south in the years leading up to the civil war. The decision was only overturned after the civil war by the passing of the thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth amendments.

Location signed: Washington, D.C., USA

Source: Smithsonian