In 1858, as the fight over the future of slavery in the United States was reaching fever pitch, the Supreme Court was asked to rule on the case of Dred Scott v. Sandford. Scott, a slave from Missouri, had lived with a previous owner both in the free state of Illinois and the free Wisconsin territory. Scott later sued for his freedom in the Missouri Courts under the Missouri common law doctrine of “once free, always free.” After a tortuous appeals process, the case finally made its way to the US Supreme Court.
For a country ready to ignite over slavery, the Court’s decision provided ample fuel for the fire. The Court’s majority came down firmly on the side of slaveholders, ruling not only that slaves and their descendants were without any of the rights of citizens, but also that Congress was powerless to abridge the rights of slave-owners in their “property.”
In this two day mini-unit, students will learn about Dred Scott’s life and the Supreme Court case that shook the nation to its core. Students will read an informative and interesting chapter from my textbook “We Take Nothing by Conquest”, answer an inquiry based study guide to focus their attention on the main points and supporting details, and engage in a primary source activity where they will read and analyze excerpts from the Supreme Court’s majority opinion, answer questions which direct them to analyze the main arguments made by the Court in support of its ruling, and discuss the effect of that opinion on the rights of freedmen after the Civil War.
* 5 pages of informative and interesting text (the chapter Dred Scott from my textbook “We Take Nothing by Conquest”);
* an inquiry based study guide for the text to focus students on the main points and supporting details;
* an 11 slide PowerPoint with answers to the study guide for review, and including pictures to stimulate discussion and enhance understanding;
* a 9 page Teacher’s Guide which provides day-by-day and step-by-step instructions how to use all of the materials;
* a primary source activity which includes excerpts from the majority opinion from Scott v. Sandford, a guided question worksheet, and answer guide with suggested answers to the guided questions.
Materials are provided as word documents and PDFs in one zip file.
Created by Cliff Baker - Ye Olde History Emporium