Dred Scott v. Sandford
Courtesy of the Library of Congress
It was around 1836 at Fort Snelling—in a territory north of the 36° 30' border—that Dred Scott met and married Harriet, the slave of an army officer. Legalized marriage was rare between slaves but the Scotts' marriage was legal. They went on to have two daughters—Eliza and Lizzie. In 1838 Harriet and Dred returned to St. Louis with Emerson. Emerson died in 1843 and Harriet and Scott became the property of Emerson's wife Eliza Irene. Three years later Harriet (shown here) and Dred separately filed suits against Irene Emerson, suing for their freedom based on the premise that because they had lived in places where slavery was outlawed, they were no longer slaves. Harriet's case was dropped but Dred's case continued on through the system. They lost the initial trial, but in a retrial in 1850 the court ruled in their favor and they were freed.