The Dreaded Dred Scott Decision…

was handed down by the Supreme Court on this date in 1857.

The Missouri State Archives has an extensive report on Dred Scott, from which the following is taken:

[Chief Justice] Taney’s “Opinion of the Court” stated that Negroes were not citizens of the United States and had no right to bring suit in a federal court. In addition, Dred Scott had not become a free man as a result of his residence at Fort Snelling because the Missouri Compromise was unconstitutional; Congress had no authority to prohibit slavery in the federal territories. Furthermore, Dred Scott did not become free based on his residence at Fort Armstrong (Rock Island), because his status, upon return to Missouri, depended upon Missouri law as determined in Scott v. Emerson. Because Dred Scott was not free under either the provisions of the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 or the 1820 Missouri Compromise, he was still a slave, not a citizen with the right to bring suit in the federal court system. According to Taney’s opinion, African Americans were “beings of an inferior order so far inferior, that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.”… Taney returned the case to the circuit court with instructions to dismiss it for want of jurisdiction.