Race and Citizenship

In “The Maryland Context of Dred Scott: The Decline in the Legal Status of Maryland Free Blacks 1776-1810,” David Skillen Bogen outlines a series of legal changes in the status and rights of free blacks in Maryland between the signing of the Declaration of Independence to 1810. By then, most of their rights as freedmen had been destroyed. The 1857 Supreme Court decision known as Dred Scott declared that no black person could be a citizen of the United States, whether enslaved or free. Bogen argues that this decision was not surprising. Supreme Court Justice Taney had grown up in Maryland, socialized by law and custom to accept the idea that black people were never intended to be recognized as citizens.


Adapted from Critical Readings by Sidrah Shayiq

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