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Volume 2, Issue 2, February 1, 2017
February is Black History Month so the issues this month will feature historic sites that are connected in some way to African-American history. I'm only featuring one site in this issue because it is relevant to the current events involving civil rights. A slave sued for his freedom in a courthouse in St. Louis. The events that followed weighed heavily on the American conscience and have had a lasting influence.
Cynthia Collins
Cynthia Collins 

The Old Courthouse in St. Louis
Old Courthouse in St. Louis, MOThe Old Courthouse in St. Louis, MO, is an architectural landmark and museum that, together with the Gateway Arch and the Museum of Westward Expansion, is part of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial on the west bank of the Mississippi River. The building was built in 1839 and, in less than 10 years after its completion, was the site of a case that further polarized an already divided nation on the subject of slavery when Dred Scott, a slave, sued for his freedom.

Scott was a slave to a U.S. Army surgeon who spent four years at Army posts in free states. When the doctor retired, the family moved back to Missouri which was a slave state. Under state law, slaves who had lived for a prolonged period of time in free states would remain free when returning to Missouri. After the doctor died, his widow did not give Scott his freedom so he sued on behalf of himself and his wife.

Statue of Dred and Harriet Scott at the Old Courthouse in St. LouisHis first trial (1847) and his second one (1850) were held in the Old Courthouse. Scott lost the first trial in 1847 because of insufficient proof that the doctor's widow owned him. The judge issued a retrial which was held in 1850. That trial contained significant evidence that lead to Scott's victory. However, the widow filed an appeal and Scott lost his freedom in 1852. He took his case to the U.S. Supreme Court and was still denied his freedom. He was finally freed in 1857, a year before his death, when a new owner granted his freedom through manumission.

In addition to the Dred Scott trials, slave auctions were held on the Old Courthouse steps. The building was both a place for public debate and a courthouse. Daily tours are available and the entire Jefferson National Expansion Memorial is part of the National Park Service.

Recent Articles...
Dred Scott and His Impact on America

Dred Scott (circa 1857)Dred Scott, a slave, sued for his freedom in the slave state of Missouri based on a law that determined slavery status depending on time spent in free states. His case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and further escalated the already deep tensions throughout the nation regarding slavery.  Continue reading-->

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The Unicorn Tree
The Unicorn Tree by Cynthia Collins

A teenage girl whose brother is lost at sea –

The diary of a nineteenth-century woman –

And the special place that binds them…

For reviews, excerpts, and summary, see

The Unicorn Tree is listed on the 2016 Winter Reading List of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators  (SCBWI) under grades 9-12.

Ghost story and maritime adventure...
Available at
Photo credit:The Old Courthouse in St. Louis and the statue of Dred and Harriet Scott: courtesy of NPS.

All articles in this newsletter are by Cynthia Collins. The featured historic site section contains general information. The other articles may not be reprinted without written permission. Subscriber lists are not sold or given to any third parties and historic sites are not charged for being featured. To suggest historic sites for future issues, request article reprint permission, or any comments/questions regarding this newsletter, please contact Cynthia Collins.
Copyright © 2017 Cynthia Collins, All rights reserved.

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