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!