The Civil War in Missouri

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Letter from Slave Dorinda to Wwner Hamilton Gamble Regarding Her Freedom Suit

MHM Archives

In 1827, Dorinda was an enslaved woman whose freedom was being debated in the St. Louis court. Her case, however, was in jeopardy because her master was hampering the case and had disobeyed the courts orders and moved her out of St. Louis to Clarksville, Missouri. In desperation, she wrote to Hamilton Gamble, who was a lawyer at the time and would later become the governor of Missouri during the Civil War.Despite being a slave, Dorinda would have had a lot more opportunities in St. Louis than many other enslaved people in the countryside. In St. Louis, slaves often had more freedom to gain an education and interact with other African-Americans. They also had more opportunities to labor outside their bondage for wages that could later be used to purchase their freedom. It is unknown, at this time, the results of Dorinda’s freedom suit.