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Dred Scott first went to trial to sue for his freedom in 1847 Ten years later after a decade of appeals and court reversals his case was finally brought before the United States Supreme Court In what is perhaps the most infamous case in its history the court decided that all people of African ancestry -- slaves as well as those who were free -- could never become citizens of the United States and therefore could not sue in federal court The court also ruled that the federal government did not have the power to prohibit slavery in its territories Scott needless to say remained a slave Born around 1800 Scott migrated westward with his master Peter Blow They travelled from Scotts home state of Virginia to Alabama and then in 1830 to St Louis Missouri Two years later Peter Blow died Scott was subsequently bought by army surgeon Dr John Emerson who later took Scott to the free state of Illinois In the spring of 1836 after a stay of two and a half years Emerson moved to a fort in the Wisconsin Territory taking Scott along While there Scott met and married Harriet Robinson a slave owned by a local justice of the peace Ownership of Harriet was transferred to Emerson Scotts extended stay in Illinois a free state gave him the legal standing to make a claim for freedom as did his extended stay in Wisconsin where slavery was also prohibited But Scott never made the claim while living in the free lands -- perhaps because he was unaware of his rights at the time or perhaps because he was content with his master After two years the army transferred Emerson to the south first to St Louis then to Louisiana A little over a year later a recently-married Emerson summoned his slave couple Instead of staying in the free territory of Wisconsin or going to the free state
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