The Civil Courts building in downtown St. Louis will soon have a new sculpture by Preston Jackson honoring the more than 300 slaves and lawyers who sued for freedom in the early 1800s. St. Louis was unique in providing this opportunity to enslaved persons. Slaves could go to court to fight for their freedom and lawyers volunteered to represent them in this pursuit.
The Dred Scott case is the most famous of these freedom suits, but was only one of several hundred. Many slaves were able to obtain their freedom through this process. Scholarly Publishing has digitized court documents from these freedom suits, which are available online at the St. Louis Circuit Court Records project. Read more about the new sculpture honoring slaves and lawyers who brought these cases before the court.