Dred Scott v. Sandford Supreme Court Decision

This Dred Scott v. Sandford Supreme Court Decision primary source also includes:

Dred Scott was a harbinger of the Civil War. An enslaved man claimed freedom because his owner had taken him into free territory. Not only did the Supreme Court rule that Dred Scott and his wife were to remain enslaved, but it also ruled that African Americans essentially had no rights under American law. The 1857 earth-shattering case was one of the final steps in the long march to Civil War. Young scholars hear what the justices had to say for themselves on this pivotal decision by reading the majority and dissenting opinions.

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CCSS: Adaptable
Instructional Ideas

  • Ask students to compare and contrast the majority ruling to the minority opinion
  • Create discussions questions for pupils to connect the ruling events before and after
Classroom Considerations

  • Ruling includes archaic language and may require scaffolding for some learners

  • Primary source in its entirety lets young scholars examine the case from the perspective of key players
  • Dissenting opinion allows pupils to consider objections to the majority ruling

  • Resource is the primary source only; no additional materials are provided