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April 12, 2013

Dred Scott
Dred  Scott

Virginia Highway Marker Will Honor Dred Scott

by Frederick H. Lowe
The Virginia Department of Historic Resources and the Southampton County Historical Society on Tuesday, April 16, will dedicate a highway marker in honor of Dred Scott, a slave who is one of the five people credited with precipitating the Civil War that led to the end of slavery.

Fifty to 100 individuals are expected to attend the ceremony, including Lynne Jackson, Dred Scott’s great, great granddaughter. The event will be held at Route 58 and Buckhorn Quarter Road in Southampton County, to honor Scott near the place he was born and grew up. The area was once part of a plantation owned by Peter and Elizabeth Taylor Blow. Dred Scott’s original name was Sam Blow. The ceremony, which is being held from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm, will also honor the Blow family.

The Southampton County Historical Society selected the site, following five years of research in determining where Dred Scott was born. Researchers were able to learn that Scott's mother, Hannah, lived on the Blow plantation in rural Virginia, where some residents to this day still fly the Confederate flag and refer to the Civil War as the war of northern aggression.

"He (Dred Scott) was listed on the note, and we found traces of his mother (living here), said Jeffrey A. Hines, a board member of the Southampton County Historical Society.  His mother is believed to have given birth to Scott in 1805.

The Blow family purchased land in Alabama. They used Scott and other slaves and a note as collateral to buy the property, Hines said. The Blow family moved to St. Louis, Mo., and Scott was sold in 1833 to Dr. John Emerson, a U.S. Army surgeon, according to Africana:The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience.

Dred Scott  Marker
Dred Scott Marker
Dr. Emerson then moved to what is now Minnesota in the Wisconsin territory, where slavery was banned. Emerson returned to Missouri, a slave state. When Dr. Emerson died, his widow inherited Scott, and she hired him out to other families. She later moved to Massachusetts.

Henry Taylor Blow, the son of Peter and Elizabeth Blow, in 1846 on behalf of Scott, filed a lawsuit in Missouri.

Henry Blow argued that Scott was free because he lived in Minnesota, a free territory.  A state court in a case titled A Man of Color vs. Scott ruled against Scott. The case moved unsuccessfully through the federal courts before the U.S. Supreme in 1857 accepted it in the case titled Scott v. Sanford.

The U.S. Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, who said black men have no rights that white men have to respect, ruled in 1857 that Scott was property, not a citizen; therefore, he could not sue. The ruling also denied that Congress had the right to outlaw slavery in the U.S. territories; thereby overturning the Missouri Compromise of 1820, which regulated the spread of slavery.The decision was overturned four years later. March 6, 2013, was the 156th anniversary of the Dred Scott decision.

Taney hoped his decision would end forever the nation’s discussion about slavery, but the opposite happened. Abraham Lincoln, the Republican candidate for president in 1860, campaigned against further expansion of slavery.

“The [Taney’s] decision outraged abolitionists,” Hines tells The NorthStar News & Analysis. The marker also will honor the Blow children who financed Scott’s state and federal court cases.

The marker for Scott means he will be included among the five people who helped end slavery. The others are abolitionists William L. Garrison, John Brown, author Harriet Beecher Stowe and Abraham Lincoln, Hines said.

"All have birthplace markers except Dred Scott, as birth records were rarely kept on slaves," said the Dred Scott Heritage Foundation, which is based in Florissant, Mo.

Jackson, president and founder of the foundation, told The NorthStar News & Analysis, that she will be excited to be on the same land, where is it likely Dred Scott grew up.

“I am also excited to meet other members of Blow family,” she added. “It is a miracle where he came from and where we are now; we still have farther to go.”

Scott grew up near other famous African-American men---two in particular.
The two men are Nat Turner, who led a slave rebellion in Virginia on August 21, 1831, that resulted in 60 white deaths and at least 100 black deaths, and Anthony Gardner, a free black man who left the United States and moved to Liberia. Gardner eventually became Liberia's president.

Henry Taylor Blow purchased Scott in 1857 before freeing him. Scott worked as a porter in St. Louis' Barnum's Hotel before dying a year and half later of tuberculosis.

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