Legacy of Courage and Freedom:
Dred and Harriet Scott
This public event was sponsored by the U.S. District Court - District of Minnesota, the Minnesota Chapter of the Federal Bar Association, the Bloomington Human Rights Commission and Bloomington Parks and Recreation.
Dred and Harriet Scott were slaves who sued for their freedom in 1847, enduring a legal battle that ended in 1857 in one of the most infamous Supreme Court decisions in the history of the United States. The Scotts based their claim in part on the fact that they had been enslaved in Fort Snelling, which was in what was believed to be a free territory. The Supreme Court considered slaves mere "articles of merchandise," and held that they were not citizens of the United States and could not sue in federal courts. In addition, the Supreme Court declared that the Missouri Compromise was unconstitutional and that Congress did not have the authority to prohibit slavery in the territories.
The Scotts lost the case, but the Supreme Court's repugnant plan to settle the issue of slavery once and for all backfired, and the decision, over time, significantly impacted the course of our history. The decision enraged the anti-slavery movement, contributed to the start of the American Civil War in 1861, and led to the Emancipation Proclamation. It was eventually overturned by the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments to the United States Constitution.
Dred and Harriet Scott were finally voluntarily freed on May 26, 1857. Dred Scott passed away the following year, but Harriet Scott lived to see the Civil War and its conclusion, and the passage of the constitutional amendments.
To read more:
Unveiling of Dred and Harriet Scott Interpretive Plaques
Dred Scott Playfield