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The Mary Bateman Clark Project
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Welcome to an education in little-known Indiana history which we hope gives you a perspective of the state's flirt with slavery and an African American woman's fight to make sure slavery would not exist in Indiana.

Born a slave in Kentucky, Mary Bateman Clark was brought to Indiana where she sued one of the most significant leaders in the Old Northwest Territory of that time, the early 1800s. Her lawsuit, seeking her freedom from an indentured servitude contract, was filed n 1821 in the Knox County Circuit Court in Vincennes, Indiana. She lost, but appealed to the Indiana Supreme Court then at Corydon and won the precedent-setting case affirming Indiana's legal standing on the issues of slavery and indentured servitude.

Her case helped stop slavery, under the guise of indentured servitude, from becoming acceptable in Indiana. Had slavery been legalized Indiana possibly would have aligned with slave-holding states n the South, creating a set of circumstances that may have changed the course of history.