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Dred Scott Decision


The Dred Scott case began in 1846 when two slaves, Dred and Harriet Scott, filed freedom suits in the St. Louis Circuit Court. It ended over a decade later with a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that would obstruct any future compromises between the North and the South on the issue of slavery and propel the nation closer to civil war. Show students the great historical significance of the Dred Scott court decision with this unique array of authentic, primary source documents, including Dred Scott’s petition to sue for his freedom; excerpts from the Supreme Court’s majority and minority opinions; excerpts from speeches by Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, and Stephan Douglas; a Southern newspaper editorial; an abolitionist broadside; a political cartoon from the election of 1860; and an interview with Dred Scott. Historian: Robyn Hallowell Griswold. The contents of this Focus Jackdaw feature:

Support Materials

  • Illustrated Broadsheet Essay
  • Timeline
  • Critical Thinking Questions
  • Recommended Reading List
  • Map of the Missouri Compromise with a Description of the Travels of Dred Scott

Historical Documents

  • St. Louis Circuit Court documents: Dred Scott’s petition to sue for his freedom (1a), and Judge Krum’s ruling (1b), April 6, 1846; Bond for costs in case of Dred Scott (1c), July 2, 1847
  • U.S. Supreme Court documents in the case of Dred Scott v. John F.A. Sandford, 1857
  • Editorial from the Richmond, Virginia Enquirer, March 17, 1857
  • Excerpt from a speech by Frederick Douglass, May 1857
  • Broadside announcing an abolitionist meeting, 1857
  • “A Visit to Dred Scott,” Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper June 27, 1857
  • Excerpt from the Lincoln/Douglas debate, August 17, 1858
  • Political cartoon: “The Political Quadrille, Music by Dred Scott,” 1860

Price: $36.50



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