The Artifact Gallery was made possible by a generous gift from the William T. Kemper Foundation – Commerce Bank, Trustee.
Elizabeth Keckley was the slave of Hugh Garland, a lawyer who argued against Dred Scott’s suit to obtain his freedom. Through remarkable tenacity and courage she was able to purchase her own freedom and that of her son, George. This deed of emancipation granted Keckly and her son their freedom in 1855. Symbolically, the deed represents the brutal nature of slavery as well as the resolve that African Americans in Missouri and around the United States possessed as they strove for self-determination in a system rigged against them.By 1861, Keckly was the personal dressmaker for Mary Todd Lincoln, wife of President Lincoln. She published her experience as a “companion and confidante” of the first lady in her autobiography, Behind the Scenes: Or, Thirty Years a Slave and Four Years in the White House in 1868.