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The Boston Globe


Farah Stockman

Two rulings that benefited a powerful few

DRED SCOTT and his wife Harriet were slaves with two young daughters who filed suit for their freedom in 1846. Their master, an army surgeon, had brought them to Illinois, where slavery was banned. At the time, slaves who entered free territory were legally free.

The Scotts won their case. But their master appealed — all the way to the Supreme Court. The resulting ruling is widely considered to be the court’s worst: Dred Scott, the court found, was nothing but property, no matter where he went.

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