Dred Scott v. John F.A. Sandford (1857)

“So far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.” Opinion of the court delivered by Chief Justice Taney.


All my life I’ve lived in Alabama, on this plantation. All my life I’ve worked these fields until my hands bleed, until I can’t take it anymore, but the fear of the whip has driven me to keep digging, picking, moving. I’ve taken the punishments. The force of master on top of me, because they said that I had to, that I deserve this. I can’t even tell my family the things he’s done to me. He’d find the cruellest ways to hurt me, to hurt them.

This life. This state. All this has me asking so many questions. Why Lord? Why us? Are we the chosen people like the elders say? Then when are you coming for us Lord? When you coming for me?

Today I heard Master say that some white men up North decided that us Negroes don’t belong here. Something about us not being citizens. What does that mean Lord? If I don’t belong here, then where do I go? I’ve never been to Africa. I couldn’t tell you where it is or how to get there. If not here then where Lord?

They say that we shouldn’t question you Lord. That when the time is right you’ll give us the answers. But, I’m tired. Lord you know I’m tired. I don’t know how much longer I can do this for.

Master says that the white men up North have no rights to free us Negroes down South. Master says that means we’re his “niggers for ever”, especially me. He won’t leave me alone, but I can’t do this forever Lord.

When you coming for me Lord? Please, I need you.


A Slave’s prayer

Written by Shaurna Cameron

2 thoughts on “Dred Scott v. John F.A. Sandford (1857)

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