19th Century, African American, Black History, Faith, History, law, Minnesota

Slavery in Court: Dred and Harriet Scott

Dred Scott

Dred Scott

“Dred and Harriet Scott, slaves who lived at Fort Snelling in the 1830s, claim they became free in Minnesota, where slavery was illegal. The U.S. Supreme Court rules that, because they returned to Missouri where slavery is legal, they are still the property of their owners.

In 1836, the African American slave Dred Scott was brought to Fort Snelling by his owner, Dr. John Emerson. While at the fort, Scott married another slave, Harriet. Later, Emerson moved to St. Louis, taking his slaves, the Scotts, with him. In 1846, Dred Scott sued for his freedom. He claimed that, since he had been taken to live at Fort Snelling–at the time part of Wisconsin Territory, where slavery was prohibited–he was a free man.

In March 1857, after 11 years of trials and appeals, the U.S. Supreme Court declares that because Scott isn’t a citizen of Missouri (a slave isn’t allowed to be a citizen), he’s not entitled to sue in its courts; and that slaves are property and that no law can deprive a person–that is, a white slaveowner–of his rights to life, liberty, and property.” *

Christ have mercy! We often want privileges under the law for ourselves, and not for others. This is not Your example. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.” John 1:1,2 Jesus, You submitted to the limitations of this world. You went from the total freedom of heaven to living in Satan’s jurisdiction. You know what it’s like to have Your rights curtailed! Thank you that You are able to relate to everyone who has endured under slavery, and that You never knelt to hatred of authority.

Firstly, bless Dred and Harriet Scott, their generations, and their dwellings in Jesus’ name! Thanks for giving him the boldness to challenge the system. Forgive our system for allowing human beings to ever be classified as ‘property’! May we inherit a heart to challenge falsehoods and misbeliefs of our state.

Secondly, forgive Missouri and the U. S. Supreme Court this offense against You, and the inalienable rights You’ve freely given to all people, everywhere, at all times. You made all men in your image! You’ve made all women in Your image! Is not an affront to one an attempt at mutiny? You are our God, and we are Your people!

Third, forgive the judgment made against the Scotts’, and counter-judgments made towards Minnesota, Missouri, or the U.S. in general. Will You release us from our heritage of bitter judgments and curses, and make the way for forgiveness and blessing?


18 thoughts on “Slavery in Court: Dred and Harriet Scott

  1. people have a lot to learn from history..the generation now has come a long way from that time…. so I hope they look back, and learn, so they will not repeat this history in any form….what looks like now, it is going in the opposite direction….we need to stay in balance, and stay fair to all sides.

  2. Your post and the comments suggest that slavery has been abolished. It has not, and all those wonderful Christians in Congress and the White House are doing little to end it. Millions of workers in this country are forced to work for an unrealistic minimum wage, either because they were born into inescapable poverty or because they were brought here as children and are not allowed to register for employment.

    What is the answer of the overlords? Pass “Right to Work” legislation to prevent employees from organizing effectively. Allow WalMart and other employers, public and private, to subcontract janitorial, security and other services to whatever company can cram down wages the most and underbid their competition.

    How much better than slavery is it to earn just enough to pay for a room in a residence hotel or motel and buy peanut butter and bananas to survive? What happens if you try to protest the pathetic conditions you are forced to tolerate? The government chases you out of a “public” park and trashes your tent and belongings.

    Why would we forgive the government and the Supreme Court when they continue to worship Mammon and treat the majority of the population as chattels?

    • Thanks for such a thoughtful reply! I sincerely respect your passion, and desire for justice. I too have a desire for justice, but aimed at a different target.
      My blog is simply practicing the presence of G-d as I reflect on history. He’s my first audience. I’m just acknowledging (in written prayer) what I perceive as offenses to Him through the history of my home state, Minnesota.
      Why? The offense to our fellow human is an offense to the One who created him or her. In my perception, we windmill ourselves most specifically in the areas of conflict we do not resolve. Where we fail to show mercy or judge often are the specific areas we repeat the offenses of our ancestors.
      How can I forgive my government? I guess the easiest answer is that they are composed of fallible human beings like myself. They make bad decisions when they are afraid, or selfish, or (fill in the blank) just like me. One of the biggest traps I’ve observed in my reading of history is when a people who have been truly wronged choose to maintain that pain. Perhaps, the most direct reply is that I want to practice forgiveness not because it is easy, lacking pain, or convenient. I just can’t grasp my tomorrow if my hand is full of yesterday. I want to live like Christ. He was most loved and most hated by Jews. He was simultaneously adored by some Israelites, while receiving the death sentence from others. Yet He remained kind-hearted. This is a love I do not understand either. It is irrational to love one’s enemy. I guess I want to practice it because I feel G-d’s unmerited favor to me.

      • Forgiveness is inappropriate when a person or group persist in their evil behavior. Those who aid and abet the rich and powerful while oppressing the poor and vulnerable deserve no forgiveness until they raise the minimum wage, ensure that children, at least, have adequate nutrition, provide universal health care, and stop trying to disenfranchise minorities.

      • I’m not advocating submitting to abuse. When one endures through hardship, how to sidestep the trap of our own minds’ making? We may disagree on this point, which is fine, but I find that it tajes tremendous psychological energy to maintain an offense. I find that I may be imprisoned by my logical, understandable, even just counter-judgement to a past offense. By hating X, I allow X to dominate my thoughts, and continue in a co-dependent cycle.

  3. Thanks for stopping by “Beyond Common Sense.” I admire your grace! There are so many folks “championing” their own causes, trying to leave our great God, Creator and Savior out of it. But that’s like letting the air out of a balloon–life loses its purpose and meaning! Looking forward to Christ’s Kingdom! Blessings to you!

  4. Thank you for stopping by Growth Comes and thank you for sharing your thoughts on slavery and the treatment of a people. It is true that these attitudes continue in the world but you are truly allowed to post your thoughts freely regardless of how others may see it. May you be blessed!

  5. I like learning history and totally believe slavery now and then is wrong in the highest meaning of that inadequate word. What I don’t know is whether prayers about past history changes anything, I apologize if my lack of understanding is offensive. I believe in a God loving humanity so deeply that He must do something wonderful for people who suffer due to evil on earth. 1 John 4: 7,8

    • Can I use an example? A friend I supported confessed hatred of his dad for specific words and phrases that had shamed and bound him for years. After this prayer, his dad calls interrupting the session to invite him to a baseball game.


      • Short answer, I don’t know. I’m concerned about breaks of the past because it is still in G-d’s present, and has an effect on today. I’ve chosen to commit to pray through the history of my state to :a. Better know it in its strengths and weaknesses b. Honor G-d by owning offenses to him c. Trusting in His nature, like a good dad, responds when a kid says ” yep, I wrecked the bumper cause I was on the phone while I was backing up.” I guess that’s kinda how I feel; like an honest juvenile.

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