Law Dictionary

Scott v. Sandford

U.S. Case Law

legal Definition of Scott v. Sandford

popularly The Dred Scott Case, 60 U.S. 393 (1857), made slavery legal in all territories, thereby adding fuel to the great controversies that eventually led to civil war. Chief Justice Roger B. Taney declared that a Negro (in this case, Scott) was not entitled to rights as a U.S. citizen. Taney and the other justices in the majority went on to declare that the Missouri Compromise of 1820 (which had forbidden slavery in that part of the Louisiana Purchase north of latitude 36°30′, except for Missouri) was unconstitutional because Congress had no power to prohibit slavery in the territories. The decision increased antislavery sentiment in the North and fed the sectional antagonism that burst into war in 1861.

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