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Harriet Robinson Scott was a slave who was determined to get herself and her family out of slavery. Her actions changed history. Harriet and her husband, Dred Scott, lived in what is now Minnesota in the free territory for many years. In the 1840s, the Scotts sued for their freedom in Missouri. Their case went all the way up to the highest court. In 1857, the family lost a case in court. Dred Scott v. Sandford hastened the outbreak of the U.S. Civil War. Historians regard it as one of the worst and most consequential Court rulings in U.S. history.
About The Husband Of Harriet Scott
Dred Scott was an African-American slave who died on September 17, 1858. He and his wife, Harriet, sued for their freedom and the freedom of their two daughters in the Dred Scott v. Sandford case of 1857, also called the “Dred Scott decision.” The case centered on Dred and Harriet Scott and their children, Eliza and Lizzie. The Scotts said that they should be freed because Dred had lived for four years in Illinois and the Wisconsin Territory, where slavery was illegal and slave owners lost their rights to their slaves if they stayed there for a long time.
In a landmark case, the United States Supreme Court decided 7–2 against Scott, finding that neither he nor any other person of African ancestry could claim citizenship in the United States, and therefore Scott could not bring suit in federal court under diversity of citizenship rules. Also, Scott’s temporary stay in the free territory outside of Missouri did not free him because the Missouri Compromise, which made that territory free by banning slavery north of the 36°30′ parallel, was against the Constitution because it “deprives citizens of their [slave] property without due process of law.”
Chief Justice Roger B. Taney had hoped that this decision would settle issues about slavery and Congress’s power. Instead, it angered the public, made tensions between the northern and southern states worse, and made it more likely that their differences would lead to the American Civil War. President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 and the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Reconstruction Amendments after the Civil War made the decision null and void.
In May 1857, the Scotts were given their freedom through a private deal. A year after that, Dred Scott died of tuberculosis.
Slavery At Fort Snelling
Around 1815, Harriet Robinson was born in Virginia as a slave. Lawrence Taliaferro, who owned her as a slave, took her to Fort Snelling in what was then the Northwest Territory at the beginning of the 1830s. There, slavery was against the law.
Military officials often broke the law by bringing slaves with them when they moved.
Robinson met her husband, Dred Scott, around 1836. Scott and Robinson married in 1836–1837. Despite the government’s ban on slave marriages, Taliaferro wedded the couple civilly. Dred Scott’s owner, military doctor John Emerson, received Harriet Scott.
Emerson moved the Scotts back and forth between free and slave territory over the next few years. The fact that they lived in free areas would be the most important part of their legal cases. Emerson and his new wife, Eliza Irene Sanford, rented out the Scotts as slaves from time to time. They worked for other people, and the Emersons took the money they earned. Harriet probably did laundry, cleaned houses, and took care of children for a living. Harriet gave birth to her first daughter, Eliza, while traveling from Louisiana to Minnesota on a steamboat on the Mississippi River. After a few years, Harriet had another child, Lizzie. John Emerson died in 1843, and when he did, he left the Scotts to his wife. She sent them back to St. Louis from Fort Snelling, where they worked for other people once again.
Suits For Independence
Three years later, Harriet and Dred Scott decided they would do something to get free. They both asked the St. Louis Circuit Court for different things. Their cases were based on the fact that they lived in the free territory at Fort Snelling. Several free states had laws that said a slave could become free if they lived there for a certain amount of time with permission from their owner.
This is what both Scotts did. This is how other slaves fought for their freedom. The pastor of the church Harriet went to, John R. Anderson could have given the Scotts some advice. Their lawyers proved Dred Scott was free at Fort Snelling. They alleged Lawrence Taliaferro helped the couple marry civilly. The Scotts waited years and filed many appeals while their cases went through the courts. Their lawyers merged their petitions in 1850. Harriet’s husband replaced her on the petition.
Dred Scott v. Sandford
The case, which is now called Dred Scott v. Sandford, finally got to the US Supreme Court in 1857. The main opinion was written by Chief Justice Roger Taney. He said that the people who wrote the Constitution thought that black people didn’t have any rights that white people had to respect. He said that Black people were not citizens of the United States, even if they were not slaves. Dred Scott and other Black people couldn’t bring freedom suits because of this. The Court also threw out the Missouri Compromise, which stopped slavery in most northern states and territories but let more slave states joined the union in the South. Four years later, the decision led to the start of the American Civil War.
Scotts Got Their Freedom
Losing their case was a terrible setback, but a few months later, the Scotts were set free. On May 26, 1857, their owner, Taylor Blow, let them go. Less than a year after that, Dred Scott died of tuberculosis. As a free woman, Harriet Robinson Scott stayed in St. Louis. She washed clothes for a long time. Then she died on June 17, 1876, at the age of 61. She was buried in Greenwood Cemetery, which was one of the first places for Black people to be buried in the city. Even though her name is not as well known as her husband’s, her drive to get freedom for herself and her family was just as powerful in changing the course of American history.
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