Lead: One hundred and fifty years ago the Republic was facing its greatest crisis. This continuing series examines the American Civil War. It is "A House Divided."

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: When Dred Scott’s plea to be given his freedom reached the U.S. Supreme Court in 1856-7 the Court could have just punted. There was ample case precedent to assert that temporary residence in free territory was not sufficient to secure freedom for a slave,  that simply walking on free soil did not magically eradicate all property claims of the slave’s owner. The court was initially prepared to take this route, but reversed itself, and, under the leadership of Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney began to craft a landmark decision, one of the most infamous in U.S. history.