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St. Louis Regional history comes alive in this joint production by KDHX and the Missouri Historical Society. Stories of our past are connected with the present in these well researched and entertaining short presentations about the people, places, and events that have shaped who we are and who we are becoming. 

May 13, 2022

In the great march for civil rights and social justice, few stories of enslaved people are as compelling as the story of Dred and Harriet Scott and their family.  They ultimately gained freedom, but not through the courts as they intended.  Just press play to hear the whole story. ------ 

Click on search links to see if there are episodes with related content: Cicely Hunter, Black History, Civil Rights, Legal Matters, People of Note, ------ 

Podcast Transcript: I’m Cicely Hunter, Public Historian from the Missouri Historical Society, and here’s history, on eighty-eight-one, KDHX. ———

The story of Dred and Harriet Scott is one that students often hear about in schools across the country. The Scotts’ infamous court case demonstrated how African Americans fought for their freedom through the legal system. Though their story is one of the most well-known, there were hundreds of cases like theirs in St. Louis between 1814 and 1860. Over the course of 11 years, their case, which began in the St. Louis Circuit Court would reach the highest court in the land, the Supreme Court, with a disheartening decision that found Dred, Harriet, and their two children, Eliza and Lizzie Scott, as enslaved people. ———

Dred Scott was born in Virginia around 1800 and was enslaved by the Blow family. After he was sold to Dr. John Emerson, a surgeon of the US Army, Dred traveled with him to Fort Armstrong, near Rock Island, Illinois. By 1836, Dr. Emerson relocated to Fort Snelling, located in the free territory of Wisconsin, and where Dred met and married Harriet. ———

The Scotts sued Dr. Emerson’s widow in 1846 for their freedom. In the final Supreme Court decision in 1857, Chief Justice Roger Taney stated African Americans “had no rights which the white man was bound to respect,” because they were not considered citizens and could not pursue legal action in federal court. ———

Though the Scotts did not win their freedom as they had hoped in 1857, Mrs. Emerson soon remarried a U.S. Congressman and abolitionist, who quickly transferred ownership of the Scotts to Taylor Blow, the son of Peter Blow, so they could be emancipated. ———

Here’s history is a joint production of the Missouri Historical Society and KDHX. I’m Cicely Hunter and this is eighty-eight-one, KDHX, St. Louis. ———