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Dred Scott Case the landmark case of the 1850s in which the Supreme Court of the United States declared that African Americans were not US citizens The Court also determined that the portion of the Missouri Compromise of 1820 that banned slavery in US territories north and west of the state of Missouri was unconstitutional Officially titled Scott v Sandford the decision intensified ongoing debates over slavery that further polarized the American North and South and eventually gave rise to the American Civil War in 1861In 1846 Dred Scott a slave living in St Louis Missouri sued to prove that he his wife Harriet and their two daughters were legally entitled to their freedom After being tried in Missouri state courts and in a federal circuit court the case went before the US Supreme Court in 1856 The following year the Court rejected Scotts claim Speaking for the Court Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney concluded that blacks even when free could never become citizens of the United States and thus did not have a right to sue in federal courts Taney also declared that Congress lacked the power to prohibit slavery in federal territories a ruling that invalidated the part of the Missouri Compromise that banned slavery in the western territoriesThe Supreme Courts decision in the Dred Scott case resulted from a long debate over slavery in the territories of the American West The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 had prohibited slavery in all of the American territories north and west of the Ohio River This region called the Northwest Territory consisted of land now occupied by the states of Ohio Indiana Illinois Michigan Wisconsin and the eastern portion of MinnesotaScott then appealed to the US Supreme Court The Court heard his case in the spring of 1856 but did not decide it that year Instead the Court ordered new arguments to be conducted in December 1856 after the upcoming presidential election Montgomery Blair represented Scott
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