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Historic Fort Snelling must be revitalized

My great-great-grandparents, Dred and Harriet Scott, spent a significant amount of time at Fort Snelling. Their story, and those of many others, can be better shared. 

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.

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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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