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St. Louis – “The Dred Scott Case”

The History of St. Louis – “The Dred Scott Case”


The Old Courthouse in St. Louis, MO

The Old Courthouse in St. Louis, MO

St. Louis is my hometown.  Recently, we had a chance to visit.  St. Louis has so much history, so many attractions, and landmarks.  One of the famous attractions is the Old Courthouse in downtown St. Louis.  Although it is an architectural masterpiece it is most famous for the Dred Scott Court Case.

One of the most famous and important court cases took place in the Old Court House in St. Louis, MO.  “The Dred Scott Case”

The Dred Scott case was about a Slave (Scott) seeking freedom and recognition for his humanity in 1847. Scott was enslaved in St. Louis, however, he was shipped to Illinois, a Free State, to work for a period, then sent back to St. Louis (a Slave State). He sued his slave owners for freedom for him and his wife’s freedom on the basis that by going to a free state they became free. Dred Scott actually won his case in the first round, another St. Louis court later ruled against him.

The Courthouse that heard the Dred Scott Case in STL

The Courthouse that heard the Dred Scott Case in STL

United States Supreme Court Decision



His court fight lasted 10-years. At the end of his legal battle, the Chief Justice, Roger B. Taney, of the Supreme Court ruled that slaves were not citizens and therefore, could not sue. That decision was a major trigger-point for free states and slave states to enter the Civil War.

Here is the 7-2 Supreme Court Ruling

Judgment reversed and suit dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.

  1. Persons of African descent cannot be, nor were ever intended to be, citizens under the U.S. Const. Plaintiff is without standing to file a suit.
  2. The Property Clause is only applicable to lands possessed at the time of ratification (1787). As such, Congress cannot ban slavery in the territories. Missouri Compromise is unconstitutional.
  3. Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment prohibits the federal government from freeing slaves brought into federal territories.
St. Louis River Front

St. Louis River Front

That case started in this courtroom and ended in the United States Supreme Court!

When you visit St. Louis make sure you see the Old Courthouse.  You will be amazed the 150 plus-year-old building is in such good shape.  The Courthouse is within walking distance of the Gateway Arch in downtown St. Louis.  See where history took place and journey back in time. St. Louis is my hometown and a great place to visit!

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Bill Collins

Bill Collins is a former Army Officer turned veteran traveler. I have traveled to 34 different Countries mainly concentrated in Central & Latin America and have spent the last 16 years exploring the Caribbean Islands.

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