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African-American Historical Landmarks: The St. Louis Old Courthouse

What is it?

St. Louis Old Courthouse

Why is it important?

The St. Louis Old Courthouse is a TravelCoterie #ForTheCulture destination with rich historical ties to the African-American experience. This very courthouse provided the background for the landmark 1846 Dred Scott case. The slave and his wife Harriet sued their owner for their family’s freedom. The won the case in St. Louis but were never freed because of appeals. The case was ultimately resolved by the U.S. Supreme Court 11 years later which ruled against the Scotts, arguing they did not have grounds to sue their owner because they were not citizens. That ruling ultimately ushered in The Civil War.

In 1861, the state’s last slave auction took place in the Probate Courts of the Old Courthouse near the East Door. “The Court ordered sales of slaves whose owners had died without a will or had declared bankruptcy.” An anti-slavery crowd assembled and through protest, forced the slave traders out of town.

Where is it?

11 N 4th Street
St. Louis, MO 63102

When is it open?

It is open to the public daily from 8 a.m. to 5:00 p.m

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