Scott was born into slavery in Southampton County, Virginia, circa 1799. He was owned by Peter Blow, who moved to Alabama, and then Missouri, selling him to an army doctor, John Emerson.
Bid for Freedom
When Scott found out he was to be sold to Dr Emerson, he ran away, having previously developed a disliking for him. He was captured a short while later in Missouri swampland.
In 1837, Emerson's household moved to Fort Snelling in Minnesota (then Wisconsin). He married a slave named Harriet Robinson. She gave birth to their first of two daughters, when they were travelling to Illinois.
Emerson's household moved to Missouri in 1840. In 1846, Scott attempted to purchase his family's freedom from Emerson's widow for $300 ($8,000 in today's money). Her refusal prompted his legal battle.
Scott initially sued for freedom in the Missouri state court as there was a precedence that resident slaves should be freed. After initially succeeding however, the ruling was overturned so he appealed to the Supreme Court. They ruled that no black person could be a citizen (and bring a case), and that the presidence in Missouri was unconstitutional.
After the ruling, the Scott family was sold to Dred's old owners, the Blow family, who formally freed them. Scott worked as a porter in a St. Louis hotel until he died from TB in 1858.