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James Buchanan

Presidency

What controversial Supreme Court decision occurred during Buchanan’s presidency?

In 1857, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Dred Scott v. Sanford, which ruled that slaves were not citizens and that Dred Scott could not be considered a free man, even though he had left slavery and moved to a free state. Buchanan allegedly corresponded with Supreme Court justices before the decision was rendered early in his tenure as president. Buchanan contacted Supreme Court Justice John Catron, asking whether the decision would be decided before his inauguration. He allegedly pressured Justice Robert Grier—a fellow Pennsylvanian—to vote with the majority against

Dred Scott.



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