Prior to the Civil War, over 300 enslaved people sued for their freedom in St. Louis courts. The most well-known of these “freedom suits” was that of Dred and Harriet Scott. In this DBQuest, students will explore the only known account of a freedom suit written by a former enslaved woman, Lucy Delaney.  Using her autobiography, students will consider how enslaved people resisted slavery through both legal and extra-legal means. 

The Big Question: What decisions did families make in their fight to resist slavery?


Students will be able to...

  • Describe what an autobiography is and what it can tell us
  • Use evidence from primary sources to support analysis and answer questions
  • Discuss how one family resisted the institution of slavery
  • Explain how Freedom Suits were used to resist the institution of slavery