Dred Scott

Descendant Of Dred And Harriet Scott Shares Story Of Freedom Lawsuit

A descendant of the couple who sued in the Dred Scott decision spoke to attendees at a Black history event in St. Louis about her family's lawsuit for their freedom.

A descendant of Dred and Harriet Scott, the couple who made the Dred Scott decision famous, is bringing greater awareness to her ancestors’ fight freedom through a traveling exhibit. Visitors to the St. Louis County Black history event will be able to learn more about the infamous lawsuit that cemented slavery as a institution within the United States in the 1800s.

According to KSDK, Lynn Jackson, the great-great-granddaughter of the Scotts, sheds new light on her family’s historic lawsuit through this exhibit. Jackson wants all to know about the man and his wife who legally fought for the citizenship they believed was rightfully bestowed onto all who lived within America before being notoriously judged against in the pivotal court case for Black people in the 19th century.

While the Dred Scott decision is often taught during Black history lessons regarding slavery, Jackson came to realize that many people were unaware of what exactly her ancestors fought for on behalf of enslaved persons. In the Dred Scott v. Sandford Supreme Court case of 1857, the Scotts sued for their emancipation for themselves and their two daughters, on the grounds that their travel to a state where slavery was illegal made their enslavement unlawful under the Constitution.

However, the Supreme Court decided against their plea for freedom, determining that Black people did not have the citizenship or rights extended to white Americans. That decision is considered to be one of the worst in Supreme Court history as well as a significant regression in the cause of abolishing slavery in the country.

Regardless, Scott’s courage and fight for their emancipation remains relevant in not only Black history but also American history, a point which Jackson shared with attendees at the St. Louis event in her recalling of her family’s history.

“The 13th Amendment ended slavery. The 14th gave citizenship to all who were born in the United States, and the 15th gave the Black man the right to vote,” said Jackson, noting that the Dred Scott decision was another legal case that was intertwined with this mission.

Jackson will continue to shed light on her family’s powerful quest for justice through retelling their plight and encouraging all to learn the monumental story of Dred and Harriet Scott.