In 1846, Dred Scott and his wife Harriet filed suit for their freedom in the St. Louis Circuit Court. This suit began an eleven-year legal fight that ended in the U.S. Supreme Court, which issued a landmark decision declaring that the Scotts remained slaves. This decision contributed to rising tensions between the free and slave states just before the American Civil War. For more information on the history of the case, visit the History of Dred Scott page.
The records displayed in this exhibit document the Scotts' early struggle to gain their freedom through litigation and are the only extant records of this significant case as it was heard in the St. Louis Circuit Court. The original Dred Scott case file is located in the Office of the St. Louis Circuit Clerk.
This collection is an expanded and updated version of the original Dred Scott Case Collection. The collection, was expanded from eighty-five to one hundred and eleven documents, over 400 pages of text. In addition, the collection is now a full-text, searchable resource that represents the full case history of the Dred Scott Case. Please visit the About the Collection page for a complete project history.
The Dred Scott web site is part of a larger digital partnership between the Washington University Libraries and the Missouri State Archives, a division of Missouri's Secretary of State's office, in cooperation with the Office of the St. Louis Circuit Clerk.