Dred Scott v Sanford was one of the most controversial cases in history, with a Georgian sitting on the Supreme Court that decided it.
Dred Scott was a Missouri slave who sued for freedom after his master took him to the free territories of Illinois and Wisconsin. The Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice Roger Taney and James Moore Wayne of Georgia, ruled that blacks had “no rights which any white man is bound to respect.” They ruled further that Congress couldn’t prohibit slavery in the territories, and the Missouri Compromise was unconstitutional.
The South declared victory and thought the issue settled, but the decision further divided the country and fanned the flames of civil war. Despite his support for slavery, Justice Wayne stayed on the Court during the war and remained loyal to the United States. The Confederacy branded him a traitor and confiscated his property.
It would take the Civil War and Constitutional amendments to overturn the landmark decision handed down on March 6, 1857, Today in Georgia History.
Today in Georgia History is a joint collaboration of the Georgia Historical Society & Georgia Public Broadcasting.