National Archives and Records Administration



Civil War and Reconstruction (1850-1877)

Dred Scott Decision

On its way to the United States Supreme Court, the Dred Scott case grew in scope and significance as slavery became the single most explosive issue in American politics. By the time the case reached the high court, it had come to have enormous political implications for the entire nation. On March 6, 1857, Chief Justice Roger B. Taney read the majority opinion of the Court, which stated that black people were not citizens of the United States and, therefore, could not expect any protection from the federal government or the courts; the opinion also stated that Congress had no authority to ban slavery from a federal territory. The decision of Scott v. Sandford, considered by legal scholars to be the worst ever rendered by the Supreme Court, was overturned by the 13th and 14th amendments to the Constitution, which abolished slavery and declared all persons born in the United States to be citizens of the United States.

Judgment in the U.S. Supreme Court Case Dred Scott v. John F. A. Sandford, March 6, 1857


Judgement in the U.S. Supreme Court Case Dred Scott v. John F. A. Sandford, March 6, 1857


National Archives, Records of the Supreme Court of the United States

Continue to
Next part of this section: John Brown and Harpers Ferry

Return to
Civil War and Reconstruction (1850-1877)
American Originals 2



National Archives and Records Administration
URL: http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/american_originals/scott.html
inquire@nara.gov
Last updated: July 1, 1998
.