Dred Scott Decision Definition

Explore the definition and implications of the landmark Dred Scott Decision, a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1857 that shaped the course of American history.


The Dred Scott Decision was a landmark ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1857 that had a significant impact on the issue of slavery in the United States. Let’s explore the definition of the Dred Scott Decision and its implications.


Dred Scott was a slave who had lived in free states and territories where slavery was prohibited. He sued for his freedom, arguing that his time in these areas made him a free man. The case eventually made its way to the Supreme Court.

The Decision

The Supreme Court, in a 7-2 decision, ruled against Scott, stating that as a black person, he was not entitled to the rights of a U.S. citizen and that slaves were property, not people. This decision effectively declared the Missouri Compromise unconstitutional and further entrenched the institution of slavery in the United States.


The Dred Scott Decision intensified the tensions between the North and South over the issue of slavery, paving the way for the Civil War. It also highlighted the deep-rooted racism within the legal system and society as a whole.


The Dred Scott Decision was eventually overturned by the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which granted citizenship to all persons born or naturalized in the U.S. regardless of race. However, the decision remains a dark chapter in U.S. history that serves as a reminder of the injustices of slavery.

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