Frederick in Frederick County, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
The Dred Scott Decision
Dred and Harriet Scott were slaves who sued for their freedom after being taken from the slave state of Missouri into territory in which slavery had been prohibited by the Missouri Compromise. Remarkably, Dred and Harriet Scott managed to litigate for the emancipation of themselves and their two children, through two trials in the Missouri state courts, two appeals before the Missouri Supreme Court, a trial in the Federal Circuit Court in Missouri, and ﬁnally an appeal to the United States Supreme Court.
On March 6, 1857, Chief Justice Taney announced the decision, in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that African slaves and their descendants were not U.S. citizens and therefore could not bring suit in the Federal Courts. Chief Justice Taney predicated this ruling upon his assertion that at the time the U.S. Constitution was framed, the “civilized portion of the white race” universally regarded “negroes” as “beings of an inferior order,
One year later (1858), President Lincoln gave his famous speech entitled “House Divided” in which he argued that the Dred Scott decision was the product of a concerted effort by pro-slavery forces including Chief Justice Taney and President Buchanan to establish the legal underpinnings of a Union in which the right to own slaves would be guaranteed in all of the States and territories. This truly set the stage for the Civil War.
A direct outcome of the Civil War was the “Reconstruction Amendments” to the U.S. Constitution. The Thirteenth Amendment (1865) abolished slavery in the United States. The Fourteenth Amendment (1868) specifically nullified the definition of citizenship set forth in the Dred Scott decision and later became the basis for the Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education (1954), which decision ended legal segregation. The Fifteenth Amendment (I870) prohibits the States as well as the Federal government from denying the right to vote on the basis of race.
The publicity generated by the case resulted in pressure that caused the owners of the Scott family to transfer ownership to Dred Scott’s original owners, who then (two
The unenlightened racial view found in the pivotal Dred Scott Decision, the national debate that ensued, the bloodshed of the Civil War that followed — all make it important to comprehend the historical context of our past and to continue our progress towards racial equality.
Installed by the citizens of Frederick in the year 2009
Erected 2009 by The citizens of Frederick.
Location. 39° 24.948′ N, 77° 24.747′ W. Marker is in Frederick, Maryland, in Frederick County. Marker can be reached from the intersection of North Court Street and West Church Street, on the right when traveling south. Touch for map. Marker is on the front lawn of the Fredrick City Hall. Marker is at or near this postal address: 100 Court Street, Frederick MD 21701, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Roger Brooke Taney (a few steps from this marker); Thomas Johnson (a few steps from this marker); City Hall (a few steps from this marker); The Ross Home (within shouting “South Magnetic” (within shouting distance of this marker); Frederick’s Poet Lawyer (within shouting distance of this marker); Birthplace of William Tyler Page (within shouting distance of this marker); Tyler’s-Spite House (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Frederick.
Categories. • Abolition & Underground RR • African Americans • Politics • War, US Civil •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on September 26, 2015, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. This page has been viewed 242 times since then and 39 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on September 26, 2015, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.