On March 6, 1857, the United States Supreme Court handed down a ruling that would forever tarnish its reputation and that would help ignite the fires that led to the Civil War. That decision, Dred Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. 393 (1857), held that African-Americans were not United States citizens and that the federal government had no power to regulate slavery in territories acquired after the creation of the United States.
The facts leading to the decision are a bit convoluted, but necessary to understand the case. Dred Scott was born a slave in Virginia. Read more