Harriet Scott Narrative

My name is Harriet Scott. I guess I played a bigger part in the history of our country than most folks. You see, along with my husband Dred Scott, I started one of the most important cases ever tried in the United States. Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas debated our case, and the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court which said we weren't citizens because we were Negroes. Many people said the decision was a major cause of the Civil War.

My name had been Harriet Robinson when I met Dred. We were enslaved by military officers at Fort Snelling in Wisconsin Territory. Our masters allowed us to marry legally though, and we later had two children, Eliza and Lizzie. Our struggle began when we came back to St. Louis, and tried to buy our freedom from our master's widow. We battled for eleven long years, but lost our case in 1857, even though we were soon freed by Dred's first masters. Dred died in 1858, but I lived to enjoy freedom with my daughters, and to see the end of American slavery in 1865.

Last updated: April 10, 2015

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