Scott v. Sanford
Created on May 3, 2023
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Dred ScottRoger Brooke TaneyJohn EmersonJohn F.A. SanfordProfession: enslaved person- Owned by John Emerson- Sued Irine Emerson for freedom- Freed in 1857Profession: Chief Justice (SCOTUS)- Chief Justice on Scott v Sanford- His opinion on the case was considered to be the worst ever writtenProfession: slave owner; US military surgeon- Owned Dred Scott and his family- Died in 1843- Due to his death, the Scott's were possessed by Irene EmersonProfession: slave owner; Native American Tribe agent- Irene's brother- Owned the Scotts- Was sued by the Scotts- Lived in NY
What: When John Emerson died in 1843, he gave his assets and wealth to his wife Irene Emerson. This included his previously owned slaves, Dred Scott and Harriet Scott. In years prior, during his career, John Emerson was required to relocate many times for his work; this included both free states and slave states. Following his death, the Scotts attempted to use these relocations, to free states/territories such as Wisconsin and Illinois, as grounds to declare freedom. In two different courts in Missouri, the Scotts were first declared enslaved and then declared free. The lawsuit continued to move up the judicial courts until it reached the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS). Here, the case ruled 7-2 in John Sanford's favor, declaring the Scotts slaves. This caused an uproar in the North.
Locations: Missouri: where the Emersons/Scotts' lived and where the Scotts first sued Irene Emerson for their freedom Illinois/Wisconsin: the free state and territory that John Emerson relocated, with his family and the Scotts', during his years of service, giving the Scotts' grounds to sue Irene New York: where the Scotts' sued Sanford, Irene's brother who was granted ownership of the Scotts, in the US federal courts Washington DC: where Scotts' sued Sanford in the Supreme Court
- (1832) John Emerson bought Dred Scott in Missouri - (1833) Scotts moved with the Emerson's to Illinois - (1836) Scotts moved with the Emerson to Wisonsin Territory - (Early 1840s) Scotts return to Missouri with Emerson's - (1843) John Emerson dies - (1846) Dred Scott and Harriet Scott file for freedom against Irene Emerson - (1847) Scott's loose trial and appeal their case to Circuit Court of St. Louis County - (1850) Circuit Court of St. Louis County declare the Scott family free; Irene Emerson appeals case to Missouri Supreme Court - (1852) Missouri Supreme Court overturns decision; declaring Scotts enslaved again - (1854) Scott's file with John S.A. Sanford in New York Federal Court; still finding the Scotts to be enslaved - (1856) Scott's appeal to the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) - (1857) Supreme Court declares the Scotts
How: Dred Scott, who was enslaved to John Emerson, tried to fight for his wife, Harriet Scott, and his freedom. He attempted to do this on the ground of John Emerson's travels. John Emerson was a US military surgeon, he moved throughout the US on multiple occasions during his lifetime. During these years, the Scotts traveled to Illinois (a free state) and Wisconsin (a free territory). On these terms, Dred Scott tried to declare that, his family and him, had lived in free states/territories therefore he could buy his own freedom. Unfortunately, that was not the case, the Supreme Court ruled that an African American could never be considered a citizen and claimed his residence in Wisconsin or Illinois had nothing to do with his ability to be free. Chief Justice, Roger Taney, determined that state citizenship had no relation to national citizenship. In an attempt to aid a solution to the problem, Taney worsened relations between the North and South. Why: There were multiple issues with the decision in this case, which caused the North to be outraged by the result. To begin, on a legal basis, the case should have been dismissed due to lack of jurisdiction. Since the United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS) claimed African Americans could not be citizens, they could not file lawsuits in the US federal courts. The Scott v Sandford decision was considered the worst SCOTUS decision to date. The justices made their decisions based on politics, not on the Constitution. In addition to the lawsuit being unconstitutional, it was based on the fact that if one state considered African Americans as US citizens, by the Constitution, all must. The SCOTUS ruled 7-2, the Scotts' were never regarded as free. Tensions between North and South: Although Roger Taney attempted to "resolve the tension" he only created greater tension. Due to the decision ruling being based on politics rather than the Consitituion, the North became outraged. His assertion that African Americans would never become US citizen resulted in many Northern Justices writing critiques on the ruling. In addition, Northern courts and politicians rejected the precedent that had been set from Scott v. Sanford. The high courts of Maine decided that African American's who resided in Maine could vote in state and federal elections.
Brief summary of the overall Scott v. Sanford case: This case was monumental for the US, pre-Civil War, and is considered as one of the judicial events that ultimately resulted in the Civil War. This case set precedent for the US that stayed for decades to follow.
Harriet ScottIrene EmersonProfession: enslaved person- Married to Dred Scott- Owned by the Emersons- Sued Irene after John Emerson's death- Freed 1857Profession: slave owner- Married to John Emerson until his death- Fought the Scott's lawsuit- Was assisted by John Sanford (brother)