Why was the Dred Scott Decision so controversial in the North?
In March of 1857, Scott lost the decision as seven out of nine Justices on the Supreme Court declared no slave or descendant of a slave could be a U.S. citizen, or ever had been a U.S. citizen. [ As a non-citizen, the court stated, Scott had no rights and could not sue in a Federal Court and must remain a slave.
At that time there were nearly 4 million slaves in America. The court's ruling
affected the status of every enslaved and free African-American in the United States. The ruling served to turn back the clock concerning the rights of African-Americans, ignoring the fact that black men in five of the original States had been full voting citizens dating back to the Declaration of Independence in 1776.
The Supreme Court also ruled that Congress could not stop slavery in the newly emerging territories and declared the Missouri Compromise of 1820 to be unconstitutional. The Missouri Compromise prohibited slavery north of the parallel 36°30´ in the Louisiana Purchase. The Court declared it violated the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution which prohibits Congress from depriving persons of their property without due process of law.
Anti-slavery leaders in the North cited the controversial Supreme Court decision as evidence that Southerners wanted to extend slavery throughout the nation and ultimately rule the nation itself. Southerners approved the Dred Scott decision believing Congress had no right to prohibit slavery in the territories. Abraham Lincoln reacted with disgust to the ruling and was spurred into political action, publicly speaking out against it.
Overall, the Dred Scott decision had the effect of widening the political and social gap between North and South and took the nation closer to the brink of Civil War.
I find it interesting the Missouri Compromise was found unconstitutional. The state of Maine and Missouri were found with that compromise, so would the formation of those states be null and void since in wasn't constitutional to begin with ?
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