Today in 1857, Henry Taylor Blow emancipated Dred Scott and his family from slavery less than three months after the notorious Supreme Court ruling of Dred Scott v. Sandford. Now WE know em


In the mid-1790s, Dred Scott was born into slavery in Southampton County, Virginia, as property to the Peter Blow family. From what experts can conclude, Scott was originally named Sam and had an older brother named Dred. However, when the brother died as a young man, Scott chose to take his brother’s name instead.

Henry Taylor Blow was born July 15, 1817 in Virginia to Peter and Elizabeth, owners of slave Dred Scott.

Henry Blow soon moved with his family to Huntsville, Alabama and then again to St. Louis, Missouri in 1830. The Blow family soon sold Dred Scott to Dr. John Emerson, a surgeon serving in the United States Army.

Henry Blow attended Saint Louis University in 1830 and 1831, but was forced by finances to drop out.

He entered business selling paint and oil, followed by the lead mines which eventually would make him wealthy.

Dr. Emerson died in 1843, leaving slave Dred Scott to work for another officer.

At this time, Dred Scott sought freedom for himself, his wife, and two children in the St. Louis Circuit Court.

Dred Scott

Dred Scott

Dred Scott vs. Sandford

Henry Blow became a member of the Missouri Senate in 1854.

Blow was strictly against the Dred Scott Decision in 1857, siding with his family’s former slave, Dred Scott, in Scott’s quest for freedom.

The supreme court case Dred Scott vs. Sandford was based on the fact that although Dred Scott and his wife Harriet were slaves, they had lived in states and territories where slavery was illegal according to both state laws and the Northwest Ordinance of 1787.

The United States Supreme Court decided 7–2 against Dred Scott, finding that neither he nor any other person of African ancestry could claim citizenship in the United States, and therefore Scott could not bring suit in federal court under diversity of citizenship rules.

Moreover, Scott’s temporary residence outside Missouri did not bring about his emancipation under the Missouri Compromise, which the court ruled unconstitutional as it would improperly deprive Scott’s owner of his legal property.


Following the ruling, Dred Scott and his family were returned to Dr. Emerson’s widow.

In 1850, Irene Sanford Emerson had remarried. Her new husband, Calvin C. Chaffee, was an abolitionist, who shortly after their marriage was elected to the U.S. Congress.

Chaffee was apparently unaware that his new wife owned the most prominent slave in the United States until one month before the Supreme Court decision.

By then it was too late for him to intervene.

Chaffee was harshly criticized for having been married to a slaveholder.

He persuaded Irene to return Scott to the Henry Blow family, Dred Scott’s original owners.

By this time, Henry Blow had also become opponents of slavery.

Thus, Henry Taylor Blow emancipated Dred Scott, his wife and two daughters on May 26, 1857, less than three months after the famous Supreme Court ruling.

Dred Scott died from tuberculosis on September 17, 1858, a free man.

Henry Blow was appointed Minister to Venezuela in 1861 by President Abraham Lincoln, and served until the following year.

Blow was then elected to the United States House of Representatives as an Unconditional Unionist.

He was reelected as a Republican, serving until 1867.

Blow served on the Joint Committee on Reconstruction, which drafted the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. He then chose not to run for reelection in 1866.


Blow resumed his business interests, but in 1869 was appointed Minister to Brazil by President Ulysses S. Grant, serving one year.

In 1874, he became one of the original members of the Washington, D.C, Board of Commissioners, again serving for a year.

Henry Taylor Blow died September 11, 1875 at age 58 in Saratoga, New York.

He was interred in Bellefontaine Cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri, and was survived by six of his children.

Now WE know em





One response to “Today in 1857, Henry Taylor Blow emancipated Dred Scott and his family from slavery less than three months after the notorious Supreme Court ruling of Dred Scott v. Sandford. Now WE know em

  1. Pingback: On Thiz Day In History (our story) | Moorbey'z Blog·

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