Why is Dred Scott important in history?
Dred Scott was an American slave back in the early 1800s. At this time in American history, African-Americans, like Scott, were among the many slaves that served various masters in many states across the U.S. continent. Scott became an important figure in American history because he fought for his freedom and independence during his time, specifically in 1857. At the time, Scott argued that he and his family served their master and lived in a so-called free state in which slavery was considered illegal. With this premise, Scott believed that he and his family should also be granted citizenship in the U.S. and be given the freedoms that they deserved. With this action alone, Dred Scott became a known representative for the legal rights battle of African-American slaves.
The U.S. Supreme Court, however, denied Dred Scott’s petition arguing that African-Americans could never become American citizens, and they are considered as property rather than actual persons living in the U.S. With this provision, Dred Scott and other African-American slaves were deemed as the property of their masters and owners and so did not deserve to sue or fight for their independence. With this Supreme Court decision, that eventually became known as the “Dred Scott Decision,” many people became angry, and this eventually led to various uprisings all across the U.S. The “Dred Scott Decision” also officially ended the so-called Missouri Compromise wherein various states classified themselves as “slave states” and “free states” with corresponding laws governing the concerns of African-American slaves. The same Supreme Court ruling declared such compromises as illegal and unconstitutional. Part of the ruling also emphasized that any anti-slavery activities across U.S. states would be considered unauthorized and illegal. With the escalating division and violence among the U.S. free states and slave states, the “Dred Scott Decision” also paved the way for the American Civil War.
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