Supreme Court opens new judicial history exhibit

3 October 2001

Supreme Court opens new judicial history exhibit

Visitors to the Supreme Court of Missouri now can experience an exhibit illustrating cases that helped shape early Missouri history and helped mold our concept of respect for different cultures. The eight-panel exhibit is part of "The Verdict of History" exhibit and is on loan to the Court for a limited time from the Missouri State Archives.

"We have selected these panels to raise interest in the history of early Missouri," Supreme Court Archivist Joe Benson said. "Exhibiting these panels is part of a conscious effort to educate the diverse citizens of this state about the rich history of the Supreme Court of Missouri and the role it has played in American history." This is the second exhibit the Supreme Court has displayed from "The Verdict of History" series.  Last spring's exhibit focused on slavery, equal rights and the system of political "bosses."

Part of the exhibit now on display is devoted to the tension between Native Americans and early French settlers in Missouri.  The collision of these two worlds is demonstrated in the 1808 case United States v. Ouipinicaka, a Mascoutan Indian was accused of murdering two French traders. An Indian chief ultimately testified that the tribe desired "peace and tranquility" with the settlers. Another featured case is Petition to Charles Tayon, Commandant at St. Charles, an 1801 case mediating Indian affairs problems caused by the marriage between Indian women and white men.

"Cases like this caused cultural problems between the white settlers and the Native Americans, as the concepts of justice among cultures varied considerably," Benson said. "Pleas like the one made by the chief expressed a desire among Native Americans to live in peace in a new world -- a world that never would be the same."

Other portions of the exhibit feature an early commerce case involving salt, vigilante justice, women's rights and the founding of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

The exhibit will be on display through December 31, 2001. To schedule a guided tour of the exhibit and the 97-year-old Supreme Court Building, visitors should call 573-751-4144. More than 19,000 visitors toured the Court during the last fiscal year.