"Two Men Before the Storm," Arba Crane's Recollection of Dred Scott and the Supreme Court Case That Started the Civil War

Two Men Before the Storm (book cover)

In the early 1850s, Arba Crane, a young Harvard Law School graduate from Vermont, arrived in St Louis to begin his law career. Working alone late in the evenings, Crane forms a friendship with the office janitor, a slave named Dred Scott. As Scott recounts his life as a slave, Crane realizes that Scott has a legal claim to freedom and persuades him to file a lawsuit. Thus begins a chain of events that ignites a political and legal firestorm across the nation.

Crane fights for Scott's rights for years. The case reaches the United States Supreme Court before a spellbound country. But the Court's catastrophic decision in Scott v. Sandford holds that slaves are property without rights and that Congress has no power to halt the spread of slavery. While the decision marks the beginning of the path to civil war, it is not the end of Dred Scott's quest for freedom.

Two Men Before the Storm: Arba Crane's Recollection of Dred Scott and the Supreme Court Case That Started the Civil War, by Gregory J. Wallance, partner in Kaye Scholer's litigation group, is based on historical events: the profound friendship between a young lawyer and a slave and a fight for justice that fundamentally changed our nation. A work of historical fiction (with detailed historical endnotes), it is especially timely since March 6, 2007 is the 150th anniversary of the Dred Scott decision.

Two Men Before The Storm has been widely praised, including in The Boston Globe ("An evocative historical novel that traces the events leading to the Supreme Court's 1857 ruling denying a slave his freedom, Dred Scott v. Sandford."); The Chicago Tribune, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, The Charlotte Observer; Ebony Magazine, The New York Law Journal, Civil War Times, Faith and Family Values (a publication of the Southern Baptist Convention); and Kansas History: A Journal of the Central Plains(Kansas State Historical Society). Mr. Wallance recently lectured on the Dred Scott case at the New York Historical Society as part of its Distinguished Speakers Series.

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