Bedford County Historical Society Map

Bedford County Historical Society, Inc.

“As we look to the past,
the future looks to us.”

Auto-Biography of Major Lawrence Taliaferro
Auto-Biography of Lawrence Taliaferro by Bill Fine

Lawrence Taliaferro was a son of a Virginia slave-owning family and an Indian Agent on the Minnesota frontier from 1820 to 1839. Recuperating in Bedford after a probable injury in the War of 1812, he met Eliza Dillon. Eliza was the daughter of Humphrey Dillon, a local hotel owner. They married and Lawrence `gave` one of his slaves, Harriet Robinson, to his new wife. They took Harriet with them when they later moved to the Minnesota territory.

Soon, Harriet met and married another slave named Dred Scott. They filed multiple suits in a trail of trials attempting to win their freedom, which culminated in 1857 in the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Dred Scott v. Sandford. This trial was widely recognized as a major factor in the coming of the Civil War. The majority opinion, written by Roger Taney, found that no African Americans, free or enslaved, could be citizens with rights that the U.S. Constitution was obligated to recognize or respect. Taney was a friend of President James Buchanan. The President was a frequent visitor at the Bedford Springs,

After many years of service, the Taliaferros returned to Bedford, where Lawrence died in 1871.

Corinne Monjeau-Marz of Cottage Grove, Minnesota, has recently published a facsimile edition of Lawrence Taliaferro's Autobiography, written in 1864 and first published in 1903, with supportive materials provided by Thomas Shaw and Bill Fine.

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