Oregon's Dark Secret: Legal Slavery

Sep 24, 2013

We all know the story of pre-Civil War America: there were slave states and free states.

Credit R. Gregory Nokes

But the line between them got a lot blurrier in the newer territories, including Oregon.

Some slaveholders, mostly from Missouri, came to settle in the Oregon territory, but ignored the law and refused to grant freedom to their slaves.  One case made it all the way to the territorial Supreme Court, and R. Gregory Nokes retells that story in his book Breaking Chains: Slavery On Trial in the Oregon Territory.