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Black History and Blacks in U.S. History
A Nation Divided
(1840-1861)

Dred Scott Decision



Dred Scott Decision
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 7 to 9
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   7.2

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    non-slave, eligibility, ruling, brink, citizenship, inferior, dealt, status, thirteenth, federal, classification, tension, favor, attempt, government, issue
     content words:    Supreme Court, United States, Civil War, Dred Scott, Harriet Robinson, Circuit Court, State Supreme Court, John Sanford, Missouri Compromise, When Dred


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Dred Scott Decision
By Mary L. Bushong
  

1     What happens when a slave sues for his freedom, and it goes to the Supreme Court of the United States? You have the recipe for a decision which not only set the country on its ear, but helped set the stage for the Civil War.
 
2     Dred Scott was born in Virginia as a slave in 1799. His owners, the Blow family, moved west to Missouri in 1830. After arriving in St. Louis, they sold Dred to an army doctor stationed just south of that city.
 
3     Over the next 12 years, he accompanied Dr. Emerson to the Illinois and Wisconsin territories, both non-slave areas. Dred even married Harriet Robinson, another slave, but did not attempt to stay behind when his master was ready to move back to Missouri in 1842.
 
4     The next year the doctor died, and his widow hired Dred and his family out to work for other people. After three years of this life, the Scotts attempted to sue for their freedom.
 
5     The Circuit Court of Missouri ruled in Mrs. Emerson's favor the first time, but Dred appealed and won the second suit. Mrs. Emerson appealed to the State Supreme Court, which overturned that decision. Then she turned Dred over to her brother, John Sanford.

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