[March 06, 2015] Ask any college student whether they have ever heard of the Dred Scott decision by the U.S. Supreme Court and you will likely only get a blank stare. Ignorance of American history is common but the affect of this decision goes far beyond Dred Scott as a slave. On March 06, 1857 the court made their decision … ultimately the decision was another precursor to a bloody civil war.
There is no longer a debate today that the U.S. Supreme Court was wrong in their conclusion that Dred Scott could not be set free, that blacks were never to be citizens, and that the U.S. Congress did not have the right to prohibit slavery.1 There were many people at the time who argued that slavery was abhorrent and should be prohibited by law. The court’s decision was a slap in the face those who attempted to compromise in an approach that established free and slave states/territories.
Established in the new Republican Party, the anti-slavery movement helped get Abraham Lincoln elected as president. In due course, the U.S. Civil War was fought for many reasons but the elimination of slavery was one of the main motivations of the northern states. Lincoln’s leadership on slavery during those times is often overlooked; as he played a critical role by ensuring slavery became a strategic issue of great importance.
Many college students will tell you that war never solves anything. While that attitude is admirable, it is also strikingly naïve. It neglects the fact that the U.S. Civil War and the near 700,000 deaths led to the abolition of slavery in the United States.
Dred Scott and his wife Harriet died before they could see the horrors of the war but also the righteousness of their case settled with passage of the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1865.
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[Good summary of case] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dred_Scott_v._Sandford
[U.S. Supreme Court Historical Document text] http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part4/4h2933t.html