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Historic Fort Snelling must be revitalized

Lynne Jackson

I am Dred and Harriet Scott’s great-great-granddaughter. The time they spent at Historic Fort Snelling as enslaved people in a free territory became part of their landmark lawsuit for their freedom. Please support the Minnesota Historical Society’s request to revitalize Historic Fort Snelling so that the Fort’s many stories, including theirs, are better shared today and with future generations of Minnesotans and Americans.

Dred and Harriet Scott spent a significant amount of time at Fort Snelling. In fact, they met and were married there; they began our family there. In their fight for freedom, they used their time at Fort Snelling in Minnesota, as well as at Fort Armstrong in Illinois, as the basis for their court case. The case divided the nation and was a major catalyst for the Civil War. Because of that, we were able to be a part of history that ended slavery.

The history of the Scotts at Fort Snelling and its importance is often part of my presentations as I speak around the country, and I am pleased to share it now, during Black History Month. As we continue to promote these histories, I have developed a wonderful relationship with the staff at Fort Snelling. I am continuously learning how to incorporate the historic meaning of this location into our story in a more meaningful way.

I have been to Fort Snelling several times recently and it has been an absolute joy to see the space they likely lived in, but it is clear improvements to the site are needed. This place needs your support to maintain its relevance for the next generation.

More space at the current visitor center will be useful. The infrastructure does not provide enough space to tell all of the nationally important stories of Fort Snelling. To address this, historic buildings on the approach to the fort will be preserved and re-adapted to create a new visitor center and orientation space with expanded offerings for visitors. Outdoor improvements to pathways and trails will provide even more opportunities. Through this project, the Minnesota Historical Society stands prepared to better tell the many stories of Historic Fort Snelling.

The approach of the Fort’s Bicentennial in 2020 brings an urgency to this request. If this request is fully included in the 2018 capital investment budget, the revitalized site can be ready in time for this milestone. If you agree that the Legislature should invest in revitalizing Minnesota’s first national historic landmark – Historic Fort Snelling – then I urge you to let your legislators know they should include the Historical Society’s request in the bonding bill.

Historic Fort Snelling is very important to me – it is very important to a great many people, for a multitude of reasons. Let’s stand together to agree that it must be revitalized. 

Lynne Jackson is the great-great-granddaughter of Dred Scott and the president and founder of The Dred Scott Heritage Foundation.


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Comments (6)

  1. Submitted by Tom Barrett on 02/19/2018 - 10:06 am.

    Dred Scott, Fort Snelling

    Dear Ms. Jackson–

    Thank you for this submission. I will call my Senator and legislator to ask for their support in the bonding bill for this worthy project.

    The Scott family’s law suit, disastrously decided by the US Supreme Court in 1857, demonstrated a fatal flaw in the US Constitution: it could not comprehend the rights of black citizens and the existence of black slavery. After the Civil War, the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments abolished slavery, made national citizenship a birth right, and guaranteed the right to vote regardless of race, thus curing, at the Constitutional level, the great injustice which the Dred Scott case made plain.

    The historical importance of this dispute is matched by the continuing efforts we make, and need to continue to make, to address the racism that is the enduring legacy of slavery.

    Properly done, Fort Snelling can help us learn, remember, and move forward.

  2. Submitted by barry bonoff on 02/19/2018 - 10:51 am.

    Dred Scott

    Keep your efforts coming. A noble cause. bb

  3. Submitted by RB Holbrook on 02/19/2018 - 12:24 pm.

    Dred Scott

    Ms. Jackson, thank you for this piece.

    A permanent commemoration of Dred Scott at Fort Snelling is long overdue.

  4. Submitted by Victoria Wilson on 02/19/2018 - 03:21 pm.

    Message Sent

    Thank you for sharing and promoting this important piece of MN history. I’ve already emailed my legislator and representative directly from this site.

  5. Submitted by Jackson Cage on 02/20/2018 - 08:13 am.

    A partnership

    why doesn’t the foundation fund the improvements and work with the Fort?

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 02/20/2018 - 10:48 am.


      It’s a public good, memorializing an important facet of Minnesota and national history. If the state can commemorate Charles Lindbergh, we can commemorate Dred Scott.

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