The Dred Scott Case
Dred Scott was a slave who accompanied his owner — army surgeon John Emerson — to military posts in Wisconsin and Illinois in 1834-35. In 1846 Scott — backed by abolitionists — sued for his freedom on the grounds that he became free when he lived in an area where slavery was outlawed. After years in litigation, the Supreme Court — headed by Chief Justice Roger Taney — ruled on March 6, 1857, that Dred Scott did not gain his freedom by living in a free territory. In fact, as a slave Scott was not even eligible to sue in American courts. That ruling further increased the tension already simmering between the North and the South.

Image: Llibrary of Congress