Friday, March 4, 2016

St. Louis Old Courthouse

St. Louis Trip, Day 4, Monday, July 27, 2015
We stopped at the majestic Old Courthouse in St. Louis to buy tickets to tour the Gateway Arch.  
The first courthouse was built in 1828, but the population of the city grew quickly.  By 1839, a new courthouse was needed.  There was a re-design in the 1850s, when the original east wing was replaced, and the west wing was remodeled.  Between 1861 and 1864, the building's cupola was replaced with the dome.

The Old Courthouse has seen many struggles.  The famous Dred Scott case was heard in the old west wing of the courthouse.  The building saw its last slave auction in 1861.  

In 1872, Virginia Minor attempted to register to vote in St. Louis, but was turned down because she was a woman.  She and her husband (a lawyer), filed suit against the registrar in Minor v. Happersett.  The Missouri Supreme Court, in deliberations held at the Old Courthouse, ruled against Minor.  It acknowledged that she was a citizen, but posited that the Constitution left which citizens could vote to the legislatures.  This view was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

But one by one, the states and territories had begun granting women voting rights, beginning with Wyoming in 1869.  By 1920, the 19th Amendment was added to the U.S. Constitution, assuring women the right to vote in every state.

It is interesting to note that women could vote for all elective offices in some colonies under the old Provincial charters going back to 1691.  Under the Constitution though, one by one the states began revoking female suffrage.  In 1807, New Jersey was the last state to revoke women's right to vote.  The first women's rights convention was held in Seneca Falls 40 years later.
Inside the courthouse, there is a gift shop with St. Louis memorabilia, and a room dedicated to the history of the courthouse.  The rotunda, decorated with flags, was beautiful, and the halls were classic and stately.  We were strongly tempted to climb the stairs to the next floor, but we avoided that distraction, and headed straight for the arch!

26 comments:

  1. To realize what history the courthouse has witnessed makes that history seem not so long ago because the building is so stalwart! Your observations about women's voting rights in the colonies made me wonder how the states ever dared to revoke them under the constitution!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Apparently not enough women exercised the right, possibly because in most colonies a person had to own property to vote. Some have estimated that due to that restriction, about half the white men could not vote.

      Reading the arguments of the 1800s and early 1900s for and against suffrage is very interesting!

      Delete
  2. Replies
    1. That was quite some time ago. :) Thanks for stopping by!

      Delete
  3. he courthouse is very impressive building, with rich history

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Indeed! Thanks for stopping by, Gosia!

      Delete
  4. The rotunda is beautiful - I like your photo of it a lot!
    I had no idea that women actually had voting rights under the old Provincial Charters. What happens afterward was a huge step backward - it seems we always go forward and then backward again. Interesting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Carola! Yes, life (and history) definitely has its ups and downs!

      Delete
  5. I forget which state it was (I think Utah?) that had women's suffrage before becoming a state, and lost it by becoming a state.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah! The history of women's suffrage in Utah is interesting! According to this website:
      "Women's Suffrage--the right of women to vote--was won twice in Utah. It was granted first in 1870 by the territorial legislature but revoked by Congress in 1887 as part of a national effort to rid the territory of polygamy. It was restored in 1895, when the right to vote and hold office was written into the constitution of the new state. "

      Delete
  6. Impressive building! Did you use a wide-angle lens for that shot? Also, thanks for the history lesson. I never knew that. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I just used my Canon SX-50 on automatic if I recall correctly.

      Delete
  7. That is a beautiful building. You captured it wonderfully. The stories these old buildings would tell if they could!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Indeed! This one would be a living history book if it could tell its stories.

      Delete
  8. I have been to St.Louis, butI don't remember seeing this pretty buildinmg.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There's an especially beautiful view of it looking down from the arch.

      Delete
  9. Hi Bethany,
    I wanted to let you know that I awarded you on my blog. I hope you do it. :)
    http://creatingpreciousmoments.blogspot.com/2016/03/liebster-award.html
    Love,
    Ashley

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for tagging me. I'll respond on your blog.

      Delete
  10. First of all Bethany I want to apologize for my lack of commenting on your blog! I'm really sorry about that. I've skimmed through your St. Louis series and have been enjoying them a lot I just haven't had time to tell you so!
    This is a really pretty courthouse! A lot nicer looking than the one in my home town which was built in the spacey 70-80's era! ;)
    I also just tagged you for the Get-to-Know-Me tag on my blog. Last I knew you weren't doing blogger tags but I saw that you chose to do one not too long ago so I thought I'd try you again! :) If you don't want to it's okay though.
    http://createdbythecreated.blogspot.com/2016/03/get-to-know-me-tag.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for commenting and tagging me, Lydia! I will most likely respond in a comment on your blog. :)

      Delete
  11. Those pictures are stunning...It's amazing how equality for women and women's rights started appearing in the States. Thanks so much for sharing- have a blessed week!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hi Bethany! I've been enjoying reading your posts from St. Louis--the pictures are wonderful! I'm always up for learning more about history too--it is always extra special to actually be in an old building where history occurred. As I'm sure you can guess, I found your blog because I just received your box from Stephanie's tea cup exchange...and what a box! I feel really spoiled, especially with the lovely three piece set and mug. You were really so generous. And the shawl! And chocolates and tea! Thanks so much and happy Easter :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad everything arrived safe and sound! It was fun participating in the tea cup exchange--and very nice to meet you through it!

      Delete