Mrs. Dred Scott

Mrs. Dred Scott : A Life on Slavery's Frontier

3.41 (17 ratings by Goodreads)
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Among the most infamous U.S. Supreme Court decisions is Dred Scott v. Sandford. Despite the case's signal importance as a turning point in America's history, the lives of the slave litigants have receded to the margins of the record, as conventional accounts have focused on the case's judges and lawyers. In telling the life of Harriet, Dred's wife and co-litigant in the case, this book provides a compensatory history to the generations of work that missed key sources only recently brought to light. Moreover, it gives insight into the reasons and ways that slaves used the courts to establish their freedom. A remarkable piece of historical detective work, Mrs. Dred Scott chronicles Harriet's life from her adolescence on the 1830s Minnesota-Wisconsin frontier, to slavery-era St. Louis, through the eleven years of legal wrangling that ended with the high court's notorious decision. The book not only recovers her story, but also reveals that Harriet may well have been the lynchpin in this pivotal episode in American legal history. Reconstructing Harriet Scott's life through innovative readings of journals, military records, court dockets, and even frontier store ledgers, VanderVelde offers a stunningly detailed account that is at once a rich portrait of slave life, an engrossing legal drama, and a provocative reassessment of a central event in U.S. constitutional history. More than a biography, the book is a deep social history that freshly illuminates some of the major issues confronting antebellum America, including the status of women, slaves, Free Blacks, and Native more

Product details

  • Hardback | 496 pages
  • 157.48 x 236.22 x 43.18mm | 816.46g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 59 black and white halftone ilustrations
  • 0195366565
  • 9780195366563

About Lea Vandervelde

Lea VanderVelde is Josephine Witte Professor of Law at the University of more

Review quote

Through Harriet Scott's life, the author is able to create a valuable portrait of the development of slavery on the U.S. frontier during an era in which that scourge was leading the country toward civil war. Despite the wealth of historical knowledge presented, the heart of this well-researched work is the tragic tale of how a loving family's effort to gain their freedom was brutally rejected by Supreme Court justices bent on maintaining the institution of slavery at all costs. Essential for academic libraries and highly recommended for public libraries. * Library Journal *show more

Table of contents

Introduction ; 1. Wife of a Celebrity ; 2. 1835: Arriving on the Frontier ; 3. Settling In ; 4. Entertaining Guests at the Indian Agency ; 5. Late Summer Harvest ; 6. Wintering Over at St. Peter's Agency ; 7. Winters Deep ; 8. The Change of the Guard ; 9. Celestial Explorers ; 10. The Call of the Wood as a Prelude to Treaty ; 11. A Treaty Made before Her Eyes ; 12. The Master Departs, Together Alone ; 13. Traveling the Length of the River ; 14. New Baby in a New Land ; 15. The Deteriorating Community ; 16. Battles and Baptisms ; 17. Taliaferro's Last Stand ; 18. Leaving Minnesota Trying Courts: The Justice of Frontier Trials ; 19. While the Doctor was Away: St. Louis, 1840-43 ; 20. The House of Chouteau ; 21. Black Social Life of St. Louis ; 22. The Doctor Returns ; 23. 1843 Interlude: Jeff Barracks between Wars of National Expansion ; 24. Harriet and Her Children in St. Louis ; 25. The Courthouse and the Jail ; 26. Other Matters at the Courthouse ; 27. Filing Suit Again ; 28. Trial by Pestilence, Trial by Fire ; 29. Declared Free ; 30. Missouri Changes its Course ; 31. Before the High Courtshow more

Rating details

17 ratings
3.41 out of 5 stars
5 18% (3)
4 41% (7)
3 18% (3)
2 12% (2)
1 12% (2)
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