Am I Not a Man? The Dred Scott Story
Mark L. Shurtleff
Allison G. McKenzie
Valor Publishing Group, LLC, 2009
“Alas, with all the great and noble men who have acknowledged the evil
of slavery, and failed to take steps to abolish it, a Virginian greater
than us all will be necessary to make real that truth we piously called
self-evident.” (referenced conversation between Thomas Jefferson and
James Madison). The moral and political depravity that was once
accepted as tradition and standard, as documented in this historic
novel, was eye opening, compelling and inspiring. The author vividly
captures the courage, strength and unfailing faith in God and rights of
human nature in the relentless battle of the Great Dred Scott.
To Dred Scott, “the Mississippi River was the Greatest evidence of God’s
power. It could not be controlled nor tamed by man. It brought life to
a nation, and it was no respecter of persons. When a steamboat ran on
one of its constantly shifting sandbars, or a boiler blew, the river
sucked white and black, bond and free alike, down to its murky depths.”
(Pg. 19). Was the black man created by the same God and endowed by that
Creator with the same unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the
pursuit of happiness? The unwavering conviction of the answer to this
question was the life long battle of the Scott family. The eloquent
writing of these chapters, going back and forth through time periods,
captivates the reader’s attention and pulls you into the life of the
Scott family. I was able to feel their pain and heartache. I wanted to
petition for and with them. This book, as my introduction to the Dred
Scott Story, inarguably stirred my soul.
Reading this book brings to mind a familiar scripture in John 18: To
this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world. Although
Dred Scott did not triumph during his lifetime, because of his valiant
effort and perseverance, the world would come to know freedom and
equality for all; specifically that all men were and are created equal,
with rights of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. Perhaps
Dred Scott was a fore-runner to Abraham Lincoln with a pre-ordained
mission to set the necessary cornerstones.
“We the people” in order to form “a more perfect union” need to
remember, honor, and follow the courageous and inspiring example of the
Great Dred Scott; stand up for patriotism, injustice, and rights. Even
if we must stand alone at times, facing persecution, we cannot be
afraid, we can not conform to something our spirit tells us otherwise.
For this truth, Dred Scott will forever remain imprinted in my mind and
heart; especially when I reflect on the history and development of our
How the book might have been improved: I felt there were many names
mentioned without character development (outside the key players).
While it was a historical novel involving many individuals, there were
many times I was reading along and came across a name where I couldn’t
remember who that person was. Maybe more character development could
have been written or instead more generic references could have been
used. Just a thought.
Anyone who might like to better understand the history of slavery and
the events that took place in this nation for all men to gain freedom
and equality will enjoy this book. The inspiring Am I not A Man, the
Dred Scott Story, will reach to the heart of all who read it. I
thoroughly enjoyed this book, from the history lessons of the epic but
unfortunate adventure of Dred Scott to the creative supplemental
narrative to dramatize the events. I was very satisfied with this book.