By adolescence, he was held by the Blow family, who moved him with their other possessions into Alabama and then Missouri. After the death of the family patriarch Peter Blow, Scott was sold to Dr.
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John Emerson, a U. Army surgeon, who in transferred from Jefferson Barracks in St. These moves made the case: Scott had been brought into a state and then a federal territory where slavery was prohibited. Dred Scott did not intend to become famous. When he and Harriet Robinson Scott a Pennsylvania-born slave he had met and married at Fort Snelling filed for freedom in —each signing Missouri court documents with an "X," the only remnant in their own hands—they did not see their petitions as test cases.
For decades, the legal precedent in Missouri directed judges to set slaves free who could prove, with white witnesses, that they had been brought to reside in free territories or states. The first jury to hear the Scotts' case was told to ignore some of their key evidence and so the Scotts lost; after a new trial was granted, the second jury found for them in Yet in , on appeal, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled in Scott v.
Emerson for Dr. Emerson's widow—despite the fact that she no longer resided in Missouri.
Chief Justice Taney
Newly elected with a proslavery mandate, the justices could not have been clearer about their reasoning: "Times now are not as they were when the former decisions on this subject were made," the majority opinion read. When the Scotts' lawyers refiled in federal court, it was Irene Emerson's brother, the fur trader and railroad executive John F.
Sanford, who became the defendant. As the case made its way to the Supreme Court, a clerk misspelled Sanford's name, hence the landmark U. Supreme Court case Dred Scott v. When the decision was made, a few newspaper reporters sought out Dred Scott, finding his alley address in St.
Their legwork affords the faintest glimpse of the man whose name the infamous decision immortalized. The reporters revealed Dred Scott had been married once before, but the marriage was disrupted when his wife was sold.
The couple had had two sons, though both were dead. The articles also attested to the Scotts' long struggle to keep the family together, first by offering to purchase their own freedom from Irene Emerson and only then by petitioning for manumission. But the reporters performed their greatest service in allowing Dred Scott himself to speak. The prolonged nature of the case had provided him "a 'heap o' trouble,' he [Scott] says, and if he had known that 'it was gwine to last so long,' he would not have brought it.
The briefest words from Dred Scott add to the haunting power of his only known image. A month after Taylor Blow purchased the Scotts in order to free them, a correspondent for Leslie's Illustrated coaxed the family into the local photography studio. The resulting daguerreotypes served as the basis for engravings on the front cover of the newsmagazine figs. The family appeared dignified but without joy, their frustrations displayed in slow exposure.
Dred Scott Decision - Case, Timeline & Significance - HISTORY
Speaking with Harriet Scott, and raising the possibility of her husband touring the nation with his story, the Leslie's reporter elicited a rebuke: "Why don't white man 'tend to his business, and let dat nigger 'lone? Harriet Scott was adamant that her husband would stay home and that "she'd always been able to yarn her own livin, thank God. He was buried in St. Louis's Wesleyan cemetery, with expenses paid by Henry T. Dred Scott's story would have to be told by others. In line with the growing segregationist sentiment, Scott's remains were placed near the center of two plots, so no white St.
Louisans need spend eternity shoulder to shoulder with any African American, no matter how famous. When Harriet Scott died on June 17, , she was buried in the Greenwood Cemetery, and her grave too was unmarked. Despite their anonymity in burial, the Scotts remained notable to a small number of white St. In , Mary L. Barnum, whose husband had owned the hotel where Dred Scott had worked, commissioned Scott's portrait for the Missouri Historical Society.
Louis County freedman who had been the Grant administration's ambassador to Liberia. The dedication of this portrait, Turner argued, demonstrated "the strict impartiality of all true history," integrating the story of how "the Negro has been with us. In , the St. Louis Daily Globe marked the thirtieth anniversary of the Dred Scott case by reengraving the daguerreotype images of Dred, Harriet, and Lizzie Scott and adding an image of John Madison, one of two surviving grandsons fig.
Yet no quotes from Scott descendents accompanied the images. Instead, the reporter questioned Thomas C. Reynolds, a former secessionist governor of Missouri who in had been U. By then, white memories of the Scott family had so eroded that all kinds of falsehoods were put forward: Dred Scott living past the Civil War; Dred Scott cooking for the Prince of Wales on his visit to St.
Louis, two years after Scott's death. These fictions colored the historical record—despite the accurate information present in the newspaper's own past articles. But Scott never made the claim while living in the free lands -- perhaps because he was unaware of his rights at the time, or perhaps because he was content with his master.
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After two years, the army transferred Emerson to the south: first to St Louis, then to Louisiana. A little over a year later, a recently-married Emerson summoned his slave couple. Instead of staying in the free territory of Wisconsin, or going to the free state of Illinois, the two travelled over a thousand miles, apparently unaccompanied, down the Mississippi River to meet their master. Only after Emerson's death in , after Emerson's widow hired Scott out to an army captain, did Scott seek freedom for himself and his wife.
First he offered to buy his freedom from Mrs. Emerson -- then living in St. The offer was refused. Scott then sought freedom through the courts. Scott went to trial in June of , but lost on a technicality -- he couldn't prove that he and Harriet were owned by Emerson's widow. The following year the Missouri Supreme Court decided that case should be retried. In an retrial, the the St Louis circuit court ruled that Scott and his family were free. Two years later the Missouri Supreme Court stepped in again, reversing the decision of the lower court. Scott and his lawyers then brought his case to a federal court, the United States Circuit Court in Missouri.
There was now only one other place to go. Scott appealed his case to the United States Supreme Court. As a result, the jury returned a verdict for Irene Emerson. As historian Don E. Emerson to keep her slaves simply because no one had proved that they were her slaves. Judge Hamilton granted the motion for retrial.
Dred Scott managed to find new lawyers. At the trial they called Mrs. Russell, who testified that Irene Emerson was the owner of the Scotts. Judge Hamilton gave a charge based on the Winny case that required a verdict for the Scotts if the jury found that they had resided either in a free state or in a territory in which the Missouri Compromise barred slavery, which they indisputably had. The jury found in favor of the Scotts. Irene Emerson appealed the case to the Missouri Supreme Court, where it was heard in The timing could not have been worse for the Scotts because sectional conflict over slavery had begun to boil over.
In an opinion filled with resentful language, the Missouri Supreme Court, by a vote of , reversed the judgment freeing the Scotts. The court repudiated its rulings in the Winny v. Whitesides and Rachel v. But this persistent slave managed to find new lawyers to take up his cause. His adversary had also changed — Irene Emerson had remarried and left St.
Dred: Waiting for the Supreme Court
Louis after an ill-fated marriage to a much younger woman. Field filed a new suit in federal court on the basis of Article III, Section 2 of the Constitution, commonly known as the diversity clause, which gives federal courts jurisdiction over suits between citizens of different states. It was not a far-fetched theory because several Southern courts had recognized that the act of emancipation conferred at least some citizenship rights on a freed slave. Scott v.
The lawsuit again asserted that Scott had been freed by his residence in Illinois and at Fort Snelling. The case was assigned to Judge Robert W. Wells, a Virginian who had been attorney general of Missouri.