Reply To: Dred Scott and U.S. Citizenship


What the Court held was that they could not be citizens of the United States, and thus that they could not sue in federal court under federal courts’ diversity-of-citizenship jurisdiction. The Court didn’t hold that they couldn’t be “American” citizens, as that wasn’t the issue in the suit; several states continued to recognize particular blacks as state citizens after the decision.

I don’t like the term “African-American” in relation to slaves, because slavery denied them American-ness. Thomas Jefferson referred to slaves as “a captive nation,” and that’s how the law treated them. This was changed by the Citizenship Clause of the 14th Amendment.