April 29, 2002 New Online Collection Documents Slaves' Experiences in U.S. Courts

Contact: Guy Lamolinara (202) 707-9217

"Slaves and the Courts, 1740-1860" is the latest addition to the more than 100 online collections that are a part of the American Memory historical collections of the Library of Congress at www.loc.gov.

This new collection features some 100 pamphlets and books documenting the difficult experiences of slaves in the American colonies and the United States. Drawn from the Law Library and the Rare Book and Special Collections Division of the Library of Congress, these materials include an assortment of trials and cases, reports, arguments, examinations of cases and decisions, proceedings and other works of historical importance regarding slaves in free jurisdictions, fugitive slaves, slave revolts, the African slave trade and abolitionists in the North and South.

Highlights of the collection include the cases of Somerset v. Stewart, 1772, which laid the groundwork for the abolition of slavery in England, and Scott v. Sanford, 1857 (the Dred Scott case), which helped precipitate the Civil War, as well as the memoirs of Daniel Drayton, who helped slaves escape to freedom.

Other materials document the trial of abolitionist John Brown and the work of John Quincy Adams and William Lloyd Garrison to abolish slavery. The collection contains courtroom transcripts, important speeches from trials, lawyers' trial arguments and Supreme Court decisions. A special presentation shows a manuscript slave code of 1860 from the District of Columbia.

American Memory is a project of the National Digital Library Program of the Library of Congress. Its more than 100 collections -- which range from papers of the U.S. presidents, Civil War photographs and early films of Thomas Edison to papers documenting the women's suffrage and civil rights movements, Jazz Age photographs and the first baseball cards -- include more than 7.5 million items from the collections of the Library and those of other major repositories.

The latest Web site from the Library is aimed at kids and families. The colorful and interactive "America's Library" (www.americaslibrary.gov) invites users to "Log On ... Play Around ... Learn Something."


PR 02-062
ISSN 0731-3527