One of the most significant events leading up to the American Civil War is the story and fight of one man. The famous ‘’Dred Scott vs. Sanford” case tells the tale of Dred Scott, a slave who was able to live with his owner Peter Blows in a free state before returning to Missouri, where slavery was in full force. Scott argued that time spent in free land entitled him to emancipation. The big man back then, Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, who heavily supported slavery, refused to grant Scott freedom. The court found that no black person, whether they were free or a slave, could ever claim U.S. citizenship. This meant that they weren’t allowed to petition the court for their freedom. The Dred Scott decision gave rise to abolitionists and the tension between North and South America grew. These two sides would then find themselves face to face in war just three years after.
For more facts on Dred Scott and his fight for freedom, here are 10 more just for you:
Fact 1: It is believed that Dred Scott was originally born with the name Sam, but had changed it to Dred, after his elder brother who had this name passed away early on.
Fact 2: Dred Scott was born into slavery back in the year 1795, in the land of Southampton County, Virginia. His parents were also slaves, and the three were owned by Peter Blows and his family. Once Peter Blows had passed away, they were shortly sold to a U.S Army Doctor by the name of John Emerson.
Fact 3: By the time it was the year 1836, the love bug came knocking down Scott’s door to deliver one fatal bite. He had fallen in love with the slave girl of yet another army doctor. She went by the lovely name of Harriett Robinson, and after they tied the knot she was shipped over to Dr. Emerson where he would take over the ownership of the newlyweds.
Fact 4: Dred Scott is famous for being the slave who took matters into his own hands when faced with the desire for freedom for himself and his wife. He went down in history books as the first black man to butt heads with Sandford and the Supreme Court.
Fact 5: It was actually thanks to Peter Blow’s sons that Dred and his wife Harriett were able to pay for all of the legal fees. They shouldered the expenses for them, even buying them later on, just to be able to free them.
Fact 6: The time spent in a free state with his former owner before his return to the slave state of Missouri led him to establish this as grounds for emancipation. With the words ‘once free, always free’ leading him into the mouth of the lion. His second trial approved by the district court of St. Louis allowed him and his wife 2 years of freedom, all before the Supreme Court of Missouri overturned the decision.
Fact 7: The famous case was against Dred Scott and Irene Sanford, Dr. Emerson’s widowed wife, who claimed she owned the slaves on a basis that have not been determined. The case gave rise to abolitionists who thought the system was biased, racist, and downright unfair.
Fact 8: Abraham Lincoln was forced to address the matter, in fear of slavery spreading all the way to the west and then back into Free states. The decision was made. Lincoln advocated the issue of slavery beginning to rise anywhere, and sought to protect the free states. These decisions hastened the arrival of the Civil War.
Fact 9: Dred Scott’s taste of freedom was short lived; because 9 months after slavery was abolished he died of tuberculosis. He was promptly buried in St. Louis. His wife Harriet, who was just 17 years old when they wed, lived 18 years more before dying and being buried in Hillsdale, Missouri. In the year 1997, both Dred Scott and his wife Harriett were admitted into the St. Louis Walk of Fame.
Fact 10: It’s become a local tradition to put pennies with President Abraham Lincoln’s face on display atop Dred Scott’s tombstone. His commemorative marker exclaims: “In Memory Of A Simple Man Who Wanted To Be Free”.