March 5: Dred Scott v. Sandford
In 1857, the Supreme Court ruled in the case of Dred Scott v. Sandford. In one of the worst opinions in the Court’s history, the Court majority ruled that Dred Scott, a slave who claimed to have been become free by living in a territory that outlawed slavery, was not a citizen and had no right to sue for his freedom in federal court. Chief Justice Roger Taney declared that black men “had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.” The decision helped deepen the national divide over slavery, which would erupt into war four years later. Justice Benjamin Robbins Curtis dissented strongly, then soon left the Court in protest.