In 1846, Dred Scott, a slave living in St. Louis, sued in a Missouri court for his and his family’s freedom. Eleven years later, the case reached the highest federal court in Dred Scott v. Sandford, where the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Scott’s claim to freedom by a vote of 7-2. While the verdict had a personal impact on Scott and his family, it also had legal, political, social, and economic ramifications that reverberated throughout the country in the years immediately preceding the Civil War.
The political context surrounding slavery in the years leading up to the Dred Scott decision was one of compromise and sectional tensions. With the opening of Western territories, there was heightened debate between the North and South over the issue of slavery. Attempts to resolve the political tension included several compromises and acts. The Missouri Compromise of 1820 allowed Missouri to enter the Union as a slave state, yet it restricted slavery above the 36°30′ line and west of Missouri. The Missouri Compromise was later partially invalidated with the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, and territorial legislatures gained the power to determine whether to enter the Union as slave or free through a process of “popular sovereignty,” or letting the people decide…
(Click on link below to read this article in it’s entirety)
Below is another video by Crash Course that goes into this historical case more in-depth.