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Scott, Dred (1795-1858)

Dred Scott, was an enslaved person noted mainly for the unsuccessful lawsuit brought to free him from bondage. The decision rendered by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1857 in the Dred Scott case, said that no blacks slave or free were U.S. citizens and allowed slavery in all U.S. territories.  The decision helped propel the United States toward the Civil War.

Scott was born into slavery in Southampton, Virginia, around 1795, the property of the Peter Blow family. He was given the name “Sam” but took the name of his older brother, Dred, when the latter died.  Scott was taken by the Blow family to Huntsville, Alabama where they settled on a nearby farm.  When farming proved unsuccessful, the family in 1830 relocated to St. Louis, Missouri.  In 1831 his owner, Peter Blow, died, John Emerson, U.S. Army surgeon, bought him and took him to Fort Armstrong, in 1833 when Emerson was assigned there.  In 1836 Emerson was transferred to Fort Snelling in Wisconsin Territory (later Minnesota Territory) and Scott was taken with Emerson. 

In 1836, Scott who was approximately 41, married a teenaged slave, Harriett Robinson, at Fort Snelling who was owned by another U.S. Army officer, Major Lawrence Taliaferro of Virginia.  Scott and Robinson gave birth to their first child, Eliza, in 1838 and a second daughter, Lizzie, in 1840.  The U.S. Army reassigned Emerson to Jefferson Barracks, south of St. Louis in 1837 and Fort Jessup, Louisiana, in 1838.  The Scotts were brought briefly to Louisiana where Emerson married Irene Sanford, a native of New York.  The Emersons and Scotts returned to Fort Snelling later in 1848 and remained there for four years until 1842 when Emerson permanently left the Army and settled in St. Louis with the Scott family.  By this point Scott had been in free territory nearly a decade, Harriett even longer, and their two children were born free.   

In 1843, Emerson died and left his estate to his widow, Irene Sanford Emerson. When Scott offered to purchase his freedom for $300 in 1846, Emerson refused his

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