Dred & Harriet Scot

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Although the ruling in the Dred Scott case further perpetuated slavery in the United States, we must not forget its significance. The even cooler part is that Dred Scott was from Minnesota and the reason why his case went all the way up to the Supreme Court was because the case from our Minnesota Supreme Court was appealed.
~Liz Lee

Supreme Court decision--it was a formative decision.
~Kate Reeher, St. Paul, MN

The story of Dred Scott is a study in the power of one, and the yearning of the human spirit to be free. At Fort Snelling, Minnesota, Dred Scott met and married Harriet Robinson, also a slave, and they had two children. In 1842, Dr. Emerson and his wife moved back to St. Louis, taking the Scott family along. The following year, 1843, Dr. Emerson died. Now the property of the widow Emerson, Dred, Harriet, and their two children found themselves hired out by her for service to other families. In 1846, Dred and Harriet Scott turned to the courts to gain their freedom, citing their years of residence in free states. For the next ten years, the case moved from court to court. Finally, on appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, in an infamous majority decision written by Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, the court held that as a slave, Dred was not a U.S. citizen, was therefore not entitled to sue for freedom in federal court, had never been free, and had to remain a slave. --From the MN Historical Society web site.

This Supreme Court decision was a terrible injustice and highlighted the moral bankruptcy of slavery. It basically said that Dred Scott was not a man and had no rights. This decision brought the issue of slavery to a head and set the table for the Missouri Compromise and the Civil War.
~Tom Knisely, Blaine, MN

Dred Scott was a slave, born in Missouri, whose master was an Army officer. This officer, Major Sanford, served at Fort Snelling in the Wisconsin Territory and later, after Wisconsin became a state, the new Minnesota Territory. After the officer returned to the South, Dred Scott sued to be freed based on his residence in a free territory. In 1857 the US Supreme Court declared Dred Scott still a slave, declared slaves and former slaves not to be citizens of the US or of any state, and declared the Missouri Compromise of 1820, which set a dividing line between free and slave states and which had already been abolished, unconstitutional. Later, Dred Scott was bought by some Northerners who set him free in Maryland and he moved to the North and became an anti-slavery lecturer. But the Dred Scott decision had big national consequences. The federal enforcement of the Fugitive Slave At in the North, the guerrilla war between the pro-slavery and anti-slavery factions in bleeding Kansas and the Dred Scott decision all hardened the attitudes in both the North and the South and made the Civil War inevitable.
~Ed Conway, Minneapolis, MN

Dred Scott resided at Fort Snelling for several years as the slave of Dr. John Emerson, a military physician at the fort in the 1840s. Dred met his slave wife, Harriet, while at the fort and they were married there. Minnesota was a free state and slavery was not allowed, therefore the law said that if a slave resided in a free state for a certain amount of time, that slave was a free person. Because of this controversy the Dred Scott case became the main reason for the Civil War. A memorial to this famous slave was on display at Fort Snelling up until a few years ago. His long and tragic fight for his freedom makes him one of the unsung heroes of Minnesota and the whole United States.
~James R. Brown, Minneapolis, MN




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