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Dred Scott v. Sandford: Primary Documents in American History

In the 1857 Dred Scott decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that African Americans were not citizens of the United States. This guide provides access to digital materials at the Library of Congress, external websites, and a print bibliography.

Introduction

The Supreme Court decision Dred Scott v. Sandford was issued on March 6, 1857. Delivered by Chief Justice Roger Taney, this opinion declared that African Americans were not citizens of the United States and could not sue in Federal courts. Furthermore, 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.