Two Men Before The Storm

Arba Crane's Recollection of the Supreme Court Case That Started The Civil War


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 US 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 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 as we approach a new political battle over nominees to the Supreme Court.

Gregory Wallance is a prominent lawyer in New York City. He is the author of the acclaimed Papas Game, a finalist for the Edgar Allen Poe award.

"A fascinating novel of historical fiction." -- St. Louis Post-Dispatch August 15, 2005

"A gripping tale." -- Anthony Lewis, New York Times columnist, two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, and author of Gideon’s Trumpet

"An evocative historical novel." -- The Chicago Tribune, January 1, 2006