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During the 1850s in the United States Southern support of slavery and Northern opposition to it collided more violently than ever before over the case of Dred Scott a black slave from Missouri who claimed his freedom on the basis of seven years of residence in a free state and a free territory When the predominately proslavery Supreme Court of the United States heard Scotts case and declared that not only was he still a slave but that the main law guaranteeing that slavery would not enter the new midwestern territories of the United States was unconstitutional it sent America into convulsions The turmoil would end only after a long and bloody civil war in which an important issue was the question of slavery and its extension into Americas unorganized territories The Supreme Courts ruling in Dred Scott v Sandford helped hasten the arrival of the American Civil War primarily by further polarizing the already tense relations between Northerners and SouthernersAmerica in 1857 was as Kenneth Stampp put it a Nation on the Brink Relationships between the Northern and Southern states had been strained for decades but during the 1840s and especially the 1850s the situation exploded The Compromise of 1850 served as a clear warning that the slavery issue relatively dormant since the Missouri Compromise of 1820 had returned As territories carved out of the Mexican cessions of 1848 applied for statehood they stirred a passionate and often violent debate over the expansion of the Souths peculiar institution Proslavery and antislavery forces clashed frequently and fatally in Bleeding Kansas while the presidential election of 1856 turned ugly when southern states threatened secession if a candidate from the antislavery Republican party won Into this charged atmosphere stepped a black slave from Missouri named Dred ScottScotts beginnings were quite humble Born somewhere in Virginia he moved to St Louis Missouri with his owners in 1830 and was sold to Dr John Emerson sometime between 1831 and
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