Saturday, June 9, 2007

Dred Scott

This is the front of the Old Court House downtown. It was in active use from 1845 to 1930 and is now a museum. Its functions were gradually taken over by the Civil Courts Building (see May 16 post). Several more pictures are here.

The Old Court House was the scene of a lawsuit that played a pivotal role in American history. Most Americans have heard of the Dred Scott case but few know much about it. Scott was born a slave in Virginia. The family that owned him moved to St. Louis. Slavery had not yet been abolished in Missouri. They sold Scott to an Army doctor who traveled widely in Illinois and Wisconsin, where slavery was prohibited. Upon his return to St. Louis, Scott sued for his freedom, arguing that his slavery ended while living in stated where it did not legally exist. At the end of long litigation, the court in St. Louis ruled that Scott was a free man. The owner appealed to the United States Supreme Court. In an infamous decision of 1856, the court ruled 7 to 2 that Scott was still a slave. The decision further deepened the divisions in out country which led to the Civil War of 1861 - 1865.

TOMORROW: Le Chateau Blanc

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am doing a story about a court house in Greenville and was there taking pictures of it yesterday. I like your photo and narrative.

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