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Primary Documents in American History

Dred Scott v. Sandford

Dred Scott
Dred Scott.
1 print: engraving.
Wood engaving in
'Century Magazine', 1887.
Prints & Photographs Division.
Reproduction Number:

The Supreme Court decision Dred Scott v. Sandford was issued on March 6, 1857. Delivered by Chief Justice Roger Taney, this opinion declared that slaves were not citizens of the United States and could not sue in Federal courts. In addition, this decision declared that the Missouri Compromise was unconstitutional and that Congress did not have the authority to prohibit slavery in the territories. The Dred Scott decision was overturned by the 13th and 14th Amendments to the Constitution.

Library of Congress Web Site | External Web Sites | Selected Bibliography

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Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress

The complete Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress consists of approximately 20,000 documents.

The Frederick Douglass Papers at the Library of Congress

The online collection, containing approximately 7,400 items, spans the years 1841-1964, with the bulk of the material dating from 1862 to 1865.

Slaves and the Courts, 1740-1860

This collection contains just over a hundred pamphlets and books (published between 1772 and 1889) concerning the difficult and troubling experiences of African and African-American slaves in the American colonies and the United States.

Words and Deeds in American History

In honor of the Manuscript Division's centennial, its staff has selected for online display approximately ninety representative documents spanning from the fifteenth century to the mid-twentieth century.

  • Chief Justice Roger Taney wrote a letter to Caleb Cushing on November 9, 1857, thanking Cushing for his support of Taney's decision in the Dred Scott case.

From Slavery to Freedom: The African-American Pamphlet Collection, 1824-1909

This collection presents 396 pamphlets from the Rare Book and Special Collections Division, published from 1822 through 1909, by African-American authors and others who wrote about slavery, African colonization, Emancipation, Reconstruction, and related topics.

Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers

Chronicling America

This site allows you to search and view millions of historic American newspaper pages from 1836-1922. Search this collection to find newspaper articles that discuss the Dred Scott Case.

A selection of articles about the Dred Scott Case includes:

Today in History

May 21, 1796

Reverdy Johnson was born in Annapolis, Maryland on May, 21, 1796. Johnson, although personally opposed to slavery, was the attorney who represented the slave owner in the Dred Scott case.

Link disclaimerExternal Web Sites

The Dred Scott Case, National Park Service

The Dred Scott Case, Washington University in St. Louis

Landmark Cases, Dred Scott v. Sandford, Street Law and the Supreme Court Historical Society

Landmark Decisions, Scott v. Sandford, Findlaw

Our Documents, Dred Scott v. Sanford, National Archives and Records Administration

Selected Bibliography

Ehrlich, Walter. They Have No Rights: Dred Scott's Struggle for Freedom. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1979. [Catalog Record]

Fehrenbacher, Don E. The Dred Scott Case: Its Significance in American Law and Politics. New York: Oxford University Press, 1978. [Catalog Record]

Finkelman, Paul. Dred Scott v. Sandford: A Brief History with Documents. Boston: Bedford Books, 1997. [Catalog Record]

Kaufman, Kenneth C. Dred Scott's Advocate: A Biography of Roswell M. Field. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1996. [Catalog Record]

Konig, David Thomas, Paul Finkelman, and Christopher Alan Bracey, eds. The Dred Scott Case: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives on Race and Law. Athens: Ohio University Press, 2010. [Catalog Record]

Maltz, Earl M. Dred Scott and the Politics of Slavery. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2007. [Catalog Record]

Younger Readers

January, Brendan. The Dred Scott Decision. New York: Children's Press, 1998. [Catalog Record]

Fleischner, Jennifer. The Dred Scott Case: Testing the Right to Live Free. Brookfield, Conn.: Millbrook Press, 1997. [Catalog Record]

Freedman, Suzanne. Roger Taney: The Dred Scott Legacy. Springfield, N.J.: Enslow Publishers, 1995. [Catalog Record]

Herda, D. J. The Dred Scott Case: Slavery and Citizenship. Berkeley Heights, N.J.: Enslow Publishers, 2011. [Catalog Record]

Skog, Jason. The Dred Scott Decision. Minneapolis: Compass Point Books, 2007. [Catalog Record]

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  April 16, 2015
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