THE CASE OF DRED SCOTT.-This case, now pending in the Supreme Court of the United States at Washington, of Dred Scott (slave), of Missouri, vs. John F. A. Sanford, of New York, presents for the adjudication of the Court some very important questions. The progress of the case has been noticed in our telegraphic columns from time to time. Eminent counsel have been engaged in the argument, and the case is now under the advisement of the judges, whose decision is expected to be given in a few days.
It is doubtless a sort of agreed case to present for argument and judicial decisions some important question in connection with the conflict of the laws of different States in the confederacy and the power of Congress to prohibit slavery in a territory of the United States. We find in our exchanges several versions of the facts in the case, but the following appears to be received as substantially correct: Dred Scott, a slave of Dr. Emerson, U. S. Army, sued his master for his liberty, on the ground that the Doctor took him (Dred) to a military post at Rock Island, Ill., where he kept him two years, and from whence he removed him to Ft. Snelling (north of 36.30). At this last post, a slave woman, brought there by Major Taliaferro, and owned by him, was married to Dred Scott, and they had two children, one of whom was born at this post, and the other after the parties had returned to Missouri. Neither of these slaves was ever manumitted by his owner. But, under the Constitution of Illinois, slavery is prohibited. The other post, where Scott and his wife resided, was in a territory from which slavery is excluded by the Missouri act of 1820.
Scott claimed that, having been voluntarily carried by his owner into a free State, and having been there domiciled, he was, upon his voluntarily return with his master to Missouri, a free man there, in virtue of his temporary residence in free territory. The same claim was made on behalf of his wife. The Missouri State court decided adversely to the claim, on the ground that the temporary residence in a free State did not make them free in the State of Missouri, unless their owners had signified by some act an intention to manumit them by taking them into free territory, which did not appear to be the fact in this case. In order to give Dred the right to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, the title to him as a slave has been transferred to Mr. Sanford of New York. It has been suggested that the case may be thrown out of court on the ground that Dred is not a citizen within the meaning of the Constitution and consequently not entitled to an appeal to the Supreme Court, but we presume that the court will take jurisdiction of the case.
The principal points involved are: 1st, whether a person of color is a citizen of the United States, and as such, has a right to bring a suit in the Supreme Court of the United States. This point has already been submitted to the present administration, in the case of a troupe of negro minstrels who applied to the Department of State for passports to foreign countries. It was decided by Mr. Marcy that a person of coor cannot be considered a citizen of the United States under the Constitution. The second point presented in this Dred Scott is, "Has an owner of slaves the right to take and hold them in a free State as a sojourner, notwithstanding the laws and constitution of the same prohibit slavery." A similar question was recently decided in the cases of Lemmon and Wheeler, but this case will probably present new features and a more deliberate opinion than was given in the others. Another point of consideration is, "Are the constitutions of the States prohibiting slavery penal statues, which the courts of other States are bound to enforce." Perhaps the most important question is, "Whether slavery was constitutionally prohibited by the 8th section of the act of 1820, for the admission of Missouri, in all the territory north of the latitude of 36 deg. 30 min., in which territory the party and her children resided." This involves the great question newly sprung upon the country as to the constitutionality of the Missouri compromise. The opinion of the court upon these questions will be looked for with great interest.