Dred Scott v. Sandford
Courtesy of the Library of Congress
Dred Scott, or Sam Blow as he was first named, was born into slavery in Virginia in 1795. Scott spent his first 35 years with his master, Peter Blow. When Blow died, Scott was sold to John Emerson, a U.S. Army surgeon who frequently traveled in the Western Territories. At this time, the West was in the process of being settled and laws regarding slavery varied from state to state and territory to territory. In 1834 Emerson moved with Scott as his personal valet to a military fort in Illinois, a state where slavery was outlawed. A few years later, Emerson and Scott relocated to Fort Snelling, part of the Wisconsin Territory, also a location where slavery was outlawed.