He Plowed The Path to African-Americans US Citizenship

(The Association for the Study of African American Life and History) - the Founders of Black History Month, is a non-profit organization established on September 9, 1915 by Dr. Carter G. Woodson. The 2009 Black History Theme is “The Quest for Black Citizenship in the Americas”. In keeping with this years theme, I’d like to present Dred Scott:

Dred Scott (1799 – September 17, 1858), was a slave in the United States who sued unsuccessfully for his freedom in the infamous Dred Scott v. Sandford case of 1857. His case was based on the fact that he and his wife Harriet were slaves, but had lived in states and territories where slavery was illegal, including Illinois and Minnesota (which was then part of the Wisconsin Territory). The United States Supreme Court ruled seven to two against Scott, finding that neither he, nor any person of African ancestry, could claim citizenship in the United States, and that therefore Scott could not bring suit in federal court under diversity of citizenship rules. Moreover, Scott's temporary residence outside Missouri did not effect his emancipation under the Missouri Compromise, since reaching that result would deprive Scott's owner of his property. source Wikipedia

was a prominent lawyer in St. Louis and also the father of journalist and poet ”. “Field took few slave cases, but when he did, he represented slaves. Even then, however he had but limited experience with the law of slavery when he became Dred Scott's attorney. Scott had filed his freedom suit in the spring of 1846; six years later, after "bitterly fought" (p. 180) and complex litigation, and after the Missouri Supreme Court reversed itself on freedom suits, Field became Scott's attorney.”

“The Eugene Field House was the home of Eugene's father Roswell Field, the attorney who formulated the legal strategy that placed slave Dred Scott's lawsuit for freedom before the U. S. Supreme Court. In Scott v. Sandford, one of the most controversial cases of the 19th century, Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney declared that no slave could be a U.S. citizen and that the Missouri Compromise of 1820 (that abolished slavery in most territories) was unconstitutional. The 1857 decision widened the political gap between the North and the South and helped precipitate the Civil War. A very outspoken critic of the decision was Abraham Lincoln, a relatively unknown Illinois lawyer, whose attacks on the case thrust him into the national political scene. Anger over Taney's decision energized the Republican party and led the nation's first antislavery political party to victory in 1860. It took the civil war and post-war constitutional amendments to overturn the Dred Scott decision.”


:"1858 Dred Scott dies of tuberculosis and is buried in St. Louis. He was buried in Wesleyan Cemetery at what is now the intersection of Grand and Laclede Avenues in St. Louis (now part of the campus of St. Louis University). In 1867, Wesleyan cemetery closed and the bodies were disinterred and re-buried at other sites. Dred Scott's body was moved to an unmarked grave in Section 1, Lot No. 177, Calvary Cemetery, in north St. Louis County. In 1957 a marker was placed on Dred Scott's grave which reads":

"DRED SCOTT BORN ABOUT 1799 DIED SEPT. 17, 1858 DRED SCOTT SUBJECT OF THE DECISION OF THE SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES IN 1857 WHICH DENIED CITIZENSHIP TO THE NEGRO, VOIDED THE MISSOURI COMPROMISE ACT, BECAME ONE OF THE EVENTS THAT RESULTED IN THE CIVIL WAR"



*The back of the tombstone says, "Freed from slavery by his Friend Taylor Blow."

“On its way to the United States Supreme Court, the Dred Scott case grew in scope and significance as slavery became the single most explosive issue in American politics. By the time the case reached the high court, it had come to have enormous political implications for the entire nation. On March 6, 1857, Chief Justice Roger B. Taney read the majority opinion of the Court, which stated that black people were not citizens of the United States and, therefore, could not expect any protection from the federal government or the courts; the opinion also stated that Congress had no authority to ban slavery from a federal territory. The decision of Scott v. Sandford, considered by legal scholars to be the worst ever rendered by the Supreme Court, was overturned by the (1865-1868), which abolished slavery and declared all persons born in the United States to be citizens of the United States.”

Excerpt from the poem “Freedom’s Plow” by

()

BETTER DIE FREE,
THAN TO LIVE SLAVES.
Who said those things? Americans!
Who owns those words? America!
Who is America? You, me!
We are America!
To the enemy who would conquer us from without,
We say, NO!
To the enemy who would divide
And conquer us from within,
We say, NO!
FREEDOM!
BROTHERHOOD!
DEMOCRACY!
To all the enemies of these great words:
We say, NO!

A long time ago,
An enslaved people heading toward freedom
Made up a song:
Keep Your Hand On The Plow! Hold On!
The plow plowed a new furrow
Across the field of history.
Into that furrow the freedom seed was dropped.
From that seed a tree grew, is growing, will ever grow.
That tree is for everybody,
For all America, for all the world.
May its branches spread and shelter grow
Until all races and all peoples know its shade.
KEEP YOUR HAND ON THE PLOW! HOLD ON!


Please visit The Dred Scott Heritage Foundation

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