Book Talk: In the Shadow of Dred Scott

Event Information

Thursday, October 19, 2017
4:00 PM
Pebble Hill
Free and Open to the Public

The public is invited to a book talk by Kelly Kennington, author of In the Shadow of Dred Scott: St. Louis Freedom Suits and the Legal Culture of Slavery in Antebellum America.

With In the Shadow of Dred Scott, Kennington argues that the Dred Scott suit for freedom was merely the most famous example of a phenomenon that was more widespread in antebellum American jurisprudence than is generally recognized. The author draws on the case files of more than three hundred enslaved individuals who, like Dred Scott and his family, sued for freedom in the local legal arena of St. Louis. Her findings open new perspectives on the legal culture of slavery and the negotiated processes involved in freedom suits. As a gateway to the American West, a major port on both the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, and a focal point in the rancorous national debate over slavery’s expansion, St. Louis was an ideal place for enslaved individuals to challenge the legal systems and, by extension, the social systems that held them in forced servitude.

Kelly Kennington is an assistant professor in the Department of History at Auburn University. She is a historian of slavery in the antebellum American South, with a particular focus on how enslaved persons interact with formal and informal systems of law.  

The event is free, open to the public, and will be followed by refreshments. Books will be available for purchase and signing.

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Last Updated: May 02, 2016