America in 1857 was a nation on the brink. Relationship between the North and
South had been strained for decades and was only getting worse. All tension had to do
with the issues of slavery. In 1848 the U.S. had acquired new lands in the Mexican
cession, and the debate was on. The question was whether or not the South should be
allowed to spread slavery into the new states. This debate turned violent many times. The
South threatened to secede from the Union if a candidate from the Republican party, who
was antislavery, won. Amidst all of the tension would emerge a slave named Dredd Scott.
Dredd Scott was a slave to Dr. John Emerson in St.Louis, Missouri a slave state.
Scott spent most of his time in Illinois, a free state, because his owner Dr. Emerson was an
Army doctor and he stayed in Fort Armstrong in Illinois. Living in a free state had
constituted freedom for previous slaves so Scott felt that he too deserved his freedom and
he brought his first case to court on April 6, 1846, at this time he had moved back to
Missouri and was the property of Dr. Emerson’s wife. Scott filed a declaration on April 6,
1846,which stated that Mrs. Emerson had “beat, bruised and ill treated him” before
imprisoning him for twelve hours. He declared that he was to be free on the basis that he
had lived of Fort Armstrong and Fort Snelling which were both located in free states.
Scott felt that he had a strong case as the Supreme Court of Missouri had freed slaves
previous to him who had also traveled with their masters to free states. Scott lost the first
case and brought the case up again in 1850 to the Supreme Court of Missouri, the same
court which had freed slaves previous on the same terms. The difference now was that
two of the three justices serving on the court were pro-slavery whereas in cases prior to
Scott vs. Emerson the Justices had a more apathetic view of slavery and saw it as a
neccesary evil. T...