Profession: US Slave
Why Famous: Dred Scott was born into slavery in Virginia in the 1790s. His original owners sold him to a John Emerson doctor serving in the US army and Scott travelled about with him.
In 1836 he met and married fellow slave Harriet Robinson, her ownership transferred to Emerson so they could be together. Following Emerson's death in 1843 Scott sought to buy the freedom of himself and his family but Emerson's wife refused.
Scott filed a case in the local St Louis court, was tried in 1847 then retried in 1850 where the court ruled the Scotts should be freed due to living in states where slavery was illegal. Their owner appealed, the case going to the Supreme Court which ruling in 1857 that as of African descent they did not have the right to be citizens and so to freedom. By this stage Scott was the most famous slave in America. Scott and his family were finally freed 3 months after the court ruling. Dred died less than 2 years later.
Dred Scott's case led to the tensions of the civil war, influenced Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation and the Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth amendments.
- 1857-03-06 Dred Scott Decision: US Supreme Court rules Africans cannot be US citizens
- 1857-05-26 US slave Dred Scott and family freed by owner Henry Taylor Blow, only 3 months after US courts ruled against them in Dred Scott v. Sandford
- 1957-03-06 Centenary of Dred Scott slavery court decision marked by rediscovery of Scott's grave