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The Dred Scott DecisionThe Dred Scott decision of the Supreme Court in March 1857 was one of the major stepson the road to secession Dred Scott was a slave who was taken to Missouri from Virginiaand sold His new master then moved to Illinois a free state for a while but soon movedback to Missouri Upon his masters death Scott claimed that since he had resided in a freestate he was consequentially a free man The case eventually made it to the SupremeCourt As stated by Supreme Court Justice C J Taney In considering thiscontroversy twoquestions arise 1stsic Was Scott together with his family free in Missouri by reasonof his stay in the territory of the United States hereinbefore mentioned And 2dsic Ifthey were not is Scott himself free by reason of his removal to Rock Island in the state ofIllinois Both of these questions led to an even greater and more central question Cana negro whose ancestors were imported into this country and sold as slaves become amember of the political community formed and brought into existence by the Constitutionof the United States and as such become entitled to all the rights and priveledges andimmunities guarantied by that instrument to the citizen ie does Scott having been aslave have the constitutional right to sueThe Courts decision 7 against 2 for was declared on March 6 1857 Due to the varianceof opinions on why the Court decided as they did all seven justices who decided againstScott wrote opinion papers for the case the opinion of Justice Taney is generally cited forthe majority According to Taney the Court decided that Scott and hence all negro slavesor their descendants was not a citizen of the United States or the state of Missouri andthus not entitled to sue in the federal courts Justice Taney then went beyond this point andruled on the entire issue of slavery in federal territories claiming that slaves were propertyand therefore the Missouri Compromise
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