MO -- St. Louis -- Old Courthouse -- Exhibit: Dred Scott:
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OCOURD_081009_01.JPG: St. Louis in 1846:
In 1846, St. Louis was a rapidly-growing city of over 40,000 people; by 1850, there were 81,914 residents, including 2,656 slaves and 1,398 free persons of color. Located near the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, St. Louis was founded as a fur trading post in 1764, a key link in the chain of the Indian trade with the upper reachers of the Missouri River. By 1846, another layer had been added to St. Louis' trade prominence with the rise of the steamboat and the city's central location on the Western river systems. St. Louis attracted like-minded, commercially-oriented people, who came to make money and perhaps fortunes.
St, Louis was the great distribution point for commercial goods in the American West during these years, as the Oregon-California Trail and the Sante Fe Trail drew emigrants to the far West for land and later for gold. By 1844, boats averaging 300 tons of cargo made 2,100 landings at the levee. Manufacturing was on the rise in the city, the largest businesses being grain milling, cast iron founding (particularly of stoves), shoe manufacture, and the brewing of beer. During the 1840s, St. Louis became a magnet for people from around the country and the world. Some used it as the gateway to the west, others as a permanent destination.
In 1846, thousands of US soldiers were in St. Louis as tensions between the United States and Mexico broke out over a border dispute in Texas. Because Missouri had strong connections to Mexican territories via the Sante Fe Trail, St. Louis served as a staging area for men, horses, mules, and equipment needed for the war.
African Americans were a part of this St. Louis milieu from the time of its first European settlement. Several prominent early residents were free blacks who were landowners and craftsmen. Life changed for slaves who had lived under the French and Spanish systems with the United States occupation in 1804, when the so-called "black laws" added far more restrictive regulations to slave life. The State of Missouri was admitted to the Union in 1821 amid controversy over the insistence of the St. Louis power elite that it would join the Union as a slave state; only the Missouri Compromise of 1820, which included the admission of the free state of Maine as a balance of power in the Senate, averted a national crisis.
OCOURD_081009_18.JPG: You are standing in what was once the courtroom where the famous Dred Scott case was heard in 1847. Imagine that the walls on both sides of this hallway have disappeared, and that you are standing in the middle of a large, well decorated courtroom. That is the way this space would have looked in 1847.
The west wing originally consisted of two large courtrooms -- one on the first floor and one on the second floor. However, serious structural problems became evident shortly after the wing was built. The second story courtroom was buckling, and the first floor ceiling was in danger of collapsing. The problem was solved in 1855 when two support walls were built, dividing the original courtroom into two smaller rooms and this corridor.
Dred Scott's suit for freedom, which began in this courthouse, led to a series of appeals which ended in an 1857 Supreme Court decision against him. The controversial decision further divided Americans over the issue of slavery and contributed to the outbreak of the Civil War three years later. No depictions of the courtroom in which this landmark case began are known to exist. However, Courtroom Number 4, immediately above you on the second floor, will give you an idea of the original size of the "Dred Scott Courtroom."
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2008 photos: Equipment this year: I was using three cameras -- the Fuji S9000 and the Canon Rebel Xti from last year, and a new camera, the Fuji S100fs. The first two cameras had their pluses and minuses and I really didn't have a single camera that I thought I could use for just about everything. But I loved the S100fs and used it almost exclusively this year.
Trips this year: (1) Civil War Preservation Trust annual conference in Springfield, Missouri , (2) a week in New York, (3) a week in San Diego for the Comic-Con, (4) a driving trip to St. Louis, and (5) a visit to dad and Dixie's in Asheville, North Carolina.
Ego strokes: A picture I'd taken last year during a Friends of the Homeless event was published in USA Today with a photo credit and everything! I became a volunteer photographer with the AFI/Silver theater.
Number of photos taken this year: 330,000.
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