January/February 2007 issue

Judicial Learning Center in St. Louis Hosts Dred Scott Display


The Eighth Circuit Judicial Learning Center is hosting the exhibit Dred Scott, Slavery and the Struggle to Be Free beginning March 1, 2007, through September 30, 2007.

On March 6, 1857, Chief Justice Roger B. Taney delivered the “Dred Scott Decision.” Justice Taney tried to address the national issues of slavery and states rights in a way which would calm the country. Instead the court’s decision steered the country toward disunion and civil war. March 6, 2007 marks the sesquicentennial of that landmark decision. Presented in 24 panels containing photographs, illustrations and reproductions of newspaper articles and documents, the exhibit examines the Dred Scott Case, as well as the effects of slavery in antebellum Missouri.

The Old Courthouse was the site of the state portion of the Dred Scott trial. Dred Scott was not the only slave to sue for his freedom. Lucy Delaney also sued for her freedom in the same courthouse. The exhibit also presents a copy of the manumission papers of ex-slave Nicene Clark by Taylor Blow. Blow also set Dred Scott free after the decision was rendered by the United States Supreme Court. (During the mid- 1800s Taylor Blow lived on the block upon which the Thomas F. Eagleton U.S. Courthouse was later built.)

The exhibit is on loan from The National Parks Service at the Old Courthouse which is part of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. The exhibit was researched and organized by the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial with support from the Jefferson National Parks Association.