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Dred Scott: 150th Anniversary Commemoration

Front View St. Louis
Missouri Historical Society
Dred Scott
Missouri Historical Society
St. Louis Courthouse
Missouri Historical Society

On April 6, 1846, an undistinguished St. Louis slave represented by an undistinguished lawyer petitioned the local circuit court to release him from bondage. What made this case so unusual was that white men, powerful white men, began arguing about his freedom. When the United States Supreme Court finally decided the Dred Scott case eleven years later, it shook the country to its foundation, and edged it closer to the Civil War.

Dred Scott was not alone. Between 1814 and 1860, hundreds of African American slaves petitioned the St. Louis courts for their freedom, and remarkably many of them won their suits.

In 2007, the Missouri State Archives formed partnerships with a number of institutions commemorating the sesquicentennial of the Dred Scott case and the thousands of other slaves who sought their freedom.

Dred Scott Symposium