The Killer Angels

The Killer Angels


Michael Shaara

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Dred Scott was an African American man who was born into slavery in Virginia in 1799. In the 1830s, Scott was purchased by an army officer, who took him into the free state of Illinois and the free territory of Wisconsin, where he lived for several years. In Wisconsin, Scott married, and he and his wife, Harriet, ultimately had two daughters. In 1846, now living in Missouri, Scott attempted to purchase freedom for himself and his family, but his former master's widow refused to free them. Scott then filed a legal suit in the St. Louis Circuit Court, on the grounds of an old Missouri law holding that slaves freed through prolonged residence in free states would remain free in Missouri. Despite an early verdict in Scott's favor, the case ended up being appealed in the Missouri Supreme Court and ultimately the United States Supreme Court. Eleven years later, in the 1857 case of Dred Scott vs. Sandford, the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 against Scott, arguing that no person of African descent, whether slave or free, could claim citizenship in the United States, according to the Constitution. Moreover, as "property," a slave did not have standing to sue in federal court. Far from settling questions surrounding slavery, the ruling only inflamed tensions between North and South in the years leading up to the Civil War. Scott and his family gained freedom in 1857 after being deeded to an abolitionist politician, but Scott died a little more than a year later.
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Dred Scott Character Timeline in The Killer Angels

The timeline below shows where the character Dred Scott appears in The Killer Angels. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Thursday, July 2, 1863: Chapter 2: Chamberlain
Idealism vs. Disillusionment Theme Icon
Slavery and Freedom Theme Icon
...him. How much could he know “of borders and states’ rights and the Constitution and Dred Scott ? … And yet he was truly what it was all about.” The reason for... (full context)