What was the Dred Scott court case all about, and what happened to him before and after the trial?

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Dred Scott was a slave who sued for his freedom after spending time in the free state of Illinois and Wisconsin Territory with his master, believing that his rights were violated while remaining enslaved in a state that barred slavery. However, Scott waited until he had been returned to slave states (Missouri and Louisiana) before bringing his case before the courts. He lost his first case in 1847 when the St. Louis Circuit Court ruled against him; however, he was awarded a retrial in 1850 in which the jury ruled that he and his wife, Harriet, should be made free. His owner appealed, and the Missouri Supreme Court ordered him returned to his master. Scott then took his case to the Federal court, which he again lost. The Scotts appealed the decision to the U. S. Supreme Court in 1857, and in the case of Dred Scott v. Sandford, it was decided that

Any person descended from Africans, whether slave or free, is not a citizen of the United States, according to the Constitution.

Scott was not a citizen of the U. S., but property of a legal citizen of the country. Now the most famous slave in the country, in less than three months Scott and his wife were returned to the widow of their previous owner, Mrs. John Emerson; she then sent the couple back to their original owners, the Blow family; and the Blows, now opposed to slavery, gave the Scott couple their freedom on May 26, 1857.

Dred Scott became a porter, dying in September 1858. His wife died 18 years later.