Scott V Sandford2010

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Dred Scott was born a slave in Virginia in 1795. In 1834, Dr. John Emerson, a surgeon in the U.S. army, bought Scott in Missouri then moved him to Illinois. Illinois was a free state, meaning the phrase, "once free, always free." In 1836, Scott and Emerson moved to Fort Snelling, in present-day Minnesota. In the Missouri Compromise of 1820, Congress had prohibited slavery in the area that included Fort Snelling. In 1838, Emerson and the Scotts moved back to Missouri. Emerson died in 1843 and he left his possessions, including the Scotts, to his widow, Irene. They lived in St. Louis, Missouri. In 1846, Dred Scott asked Mrs. Emerson if he could work for money. If he could earn and save money, he could buy his freedom from Mrs. Emerson. According to Scott, she refused. In 1847, Emerson was able to win in Missouri Circuit court on a technicality; Scott's lawyers failed to prove to the jury that Emerson was holding Scott as a slave. Scott's lawyers successfully argued for a retrial with additional witnesses that could prove Emerson's ownership of Scott. The case went to court again in 1850. By that time Mrs. Emerson had moved to Massachusetts and left John F.A. Sanford, her brother, in charge of her financial matters, including the Scott case. The jury agreed that Scott and his family should be free because of the doctrine "once free, always free." Sanford, acting for his sister, appealed to the Missouri Supreme Court. In 1852, two of the three judges found in favor of Mrs. Emerson and John Sanford. The decision consciously reversed earlier precedent. The newly elected pro-slavery justice, William Scott, wrote the decision, arguing that states like Missouri must have the power to refuse to enforce the laws of other states. Thus, regardless of wherever else Scott had been with his master, slavery was legal in Missouri.


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