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Old Courthouse & Museum

St Louis

Facing the Gateway Arch across the new plaza, this 1845 courthouse is where the notorious Dred Scott slavery case was first tried in 1857. Considered one of the worst court decisions ever, Scott was denied his freedom. Galleries depict the trial's history, as well as that of the city.

The Dred Scott decision was deeply controversial as it declared that people of African origin could not be citizens of the US and enjoy the rights granted by the Constitution. It was a factor in the Civil War, which began four years later in 1861. The decision itself was made moot in 1865 when the Constitution was amended to remove any question about whether African Americans could be citizens.

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