Taney, Roger Brooke - History

Taney, Roger Brooke - History

Chief Justice of US Supreme Court


Roger Brooke Taney was born in Calvert County, maryland, on March 17, 1777. His father was a plantation owner in Maryland, and young Taney studied at Dickinson College. Graduating in 1795, he studied law, and was admitted to the bar four years later. Taney was elected to the state legislature in 1799, with the help of family and friends. Remaining active in politics without holding an elected position, he became a skilled orator. Taney also developed an ability to analyze legal technicalities. Taking a special interest in supporting legislation which protected the rights of Blacks in Maryland, both free and slave.

During the War of 1812, he led the minority Federalist faction supporting the government. In 1816, he was elected to the state legislature, in which he focussed on banking and currency policies. He became a Jacksonian Democrat when the Federalist Party dissolved, and worked as President Andrew Jackson's Attorney General (1831-33) and Secretary of the Treasury (1833-34).

Confirmed Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court in March of 1836, he was accused of being prejudiced toward the South. Taney felt that his judgements were based on the Constitution. He held that the Constitution did not give Congress the power to exclude slavery from the territories, although he had freed his own slaves. Taney believed that Blacks and Whites could not live together as equals, and he supported the colonization movement. Preferring a form of compensated emancipation, he nevertheless felt that slavery had to exist in the US as long as there were African Americans in the country.

Taney also opposed efforts by the North to interfere with Southern slavery. In 1857, he wrote the majority opinion in the Dred Scott Case, which overturned a Missouri court decision that had given Scott freedom. When they reversed the ruling, Taney and the majority of the Supreme Court asserted that slaves were not citizens, and, thus, could not sue for freedom in a court. Tanye went so far as to declare the prohibition of slavery in the territories unconstitutional.

Republicans and abolitionsts were angered by Taney's declarations, which made the Missouri Compromise null and void, and took away all rights of slaves. During the Civil War, Taney opposed Lincoln's arrests of citizens for disloyalty. When Taney died in Washington, D. C., on October 12, 1864, President Lincoln appointed Salmon P. Chase to replace him.

Taney, Roger Brooke - History

Roger Brooke Taney (1777-1864)

Fifth chief justice of the Supreme Court of the United States (1836-64), remembered principally for the Dred Scott decision.

Taney was the son of Michael and Monica (Brooke) Taney. Of English ancestry, Michael Taney had been educated in France and was a prosperous tobacco grower in Calvert County, Md. After graduation from Dickinson College in Pennsylvania, in 1795, Taney studied law with Judge Jeremiah Chase, of the Maryland General Court. He was admitted to the bar in 1799 at Annapolis and served one year in the Maryland House of Delegates before settling down in Frederick, Md., to practice law. In 1806 he married Anne Key, whose brother, Francis Scott Key, later wrote "The Star-Spangled Banner."

He entered politics as a Federalist, and was a member of the Maryland House of Delegates in 1799-80. His faith in Federalism was weakened by the party's opposition to the War of 1812, and he gradually became associated with the Jacksonian wing of the Republican party. He served in the state Senate in 1816-21, was Attorney General of Maryland in 1827-31 and in July 1831 entered President Andrew Jackson's cabinet as Attorney General of the United States. He was the President's chief adviser in the attack on the United States Bank, and was transferred to the treasury department in September 1833 for the special purpose of removing the government deposits. This conduct brought him into conflict with the Senate, which passed a vote of censure, and (in June 1834) refused to confirm his appointment as secretary of the treasury. He returned to his law practice in Baltimore, but on the 28th of December 1835 was nominated Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court to succeed John Marshall. After strong opposition the nomination was confirmed, on the 15th of March 1836, by the Senate.

Throughout his tenure in Washington, Taney had been an outspoken leader in the Democrats' fight against the central bank, the Bank of the United States, which was widely regarded as a tool of Eastern financial interests. Taney believed it had abused its powers, and he strongly advised the President to veto the congressional bill that would renew the bank's charter and wrote much of the veto message he also recommended that government funds be withdrawn from the bank and be deposited in a number of state banks.

As a result of his role in the fight over the Bank of the United States, Taney had become a national figure, and in 1833 President Jackson appointed him secretary of the treasury. But opposition to Taney and his financial program was so strong that the Senate rejected him in June 1834, marking the first time that Congress had refused to confirm a presidential nominee for a Cabinet post.

Taney returned to Baltimore to rebuild his law practice. A year later, Jackson nominated him to the Supreme Court of the United States as an associate justice. Taney's enemies stalled the nomination indefinitely. Then, on July 6, 1835, Chief Justice John Marshall died, and Taney was nominated to fill his place on the bench.

Despite powerful resistance, led by such prominent politicians as Henry Clay, John C. Calhoun, and Daniel Webster, Taney was sworn in as chief justice in March 1836. Although he had inherited the conservative tradition of the Southern aristocracy and had supported states' rights, the Taney court did not discard John Marshall's ideas of federal supremacy. Taney believed firmly in divided sovereignty, but he also believed it was the Supreme Court's role to decide which powers should be shared. Eventually, many of those who had opposed Taney's appointment came to respect him.

One of the most important decisions for which the Taney court is noted concerned rights granted by charters. The majority opinion in Charles River Bridge v. Warren Bridge (1837) declared that rights not specifically conferred could not be inferred from the language of a document. In this decision Taney rejected the claim of a bridge company that the subsequent grant by the state legislature of a charter to another bridge company impaired the legislature's charter to the first company.

The majority opinion that Taney delivered on March 6, 1857, in Dred Scott v. Sanford is the one for which he is best known. In essence, the decision argued that Scott was a slave and as such was not a citizen and could not sue in a federal court. Taney's further opinion that Congress had no power to exclude slavery from the territories and that Negroes could not become citizens was bitterly attacked in the Northern press. The Dred Scott decision probably created more disagreement than any other legal opinion in U.S. history it became a violently divisive issue in national politics and dangerously undermined the prestige of the Supreme Court.

Whenever state authorities threatened or interfered with the execution of federal power, however, Taney upheld federal supremacy. His opinion in Ableman v. Booth (1858), denying state power (in this case the courts of the state of Wisconsin) to obstruct the processes of the federal courts, remains a magnificent statement of constitutional federalism. Under Taney's leadership federal judicial power was expanded over corporations, the federal government was held to have paramount and exclusive authority over foreign relations, and congressional authority over U.S. property and territory was vigorously upheld.

During the Civil War, Judge Taney struggled unsuccessfully to protect individual liberty from the encroachments of the military authorities. In the case of ex parte John Merryman (1861), he protested against the assumption of power by the President to suspend the privileges of the writ of habeas corpus or to confer that power upon a military officer without the authorization of Congress.

Roger Brooke Taney (1777-1864)

Taney in History. Roger Brooke Taney is remembered generally for having authored the majority decision in Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857), perhaps the single worst decision in the history of the Supreme Court — a “ ghastly error ” by the reckoning of one important legal scholar. According to a later chief justice, Charles Evans Hughes, Dred Scott became one clear example where “ the Court … suffered severely from self-inflicted wounds. ” Yet regardless of that notorious decision, a small but formidable body of judicial scholars in the late twentieth century consider Taney to be one of the great justices of the Supreme Court, ranked alongside John Marshall, Louis Brandeis, and Oliver Wendell Holmes.

Background and Early Career. Taney was born in Calvert County, Maryland, in 1777 to an aristocratic planter family. He was educated in rural schools and by a private tutor before attending Dickinson College, where he graduated in 1795. Taney began to practice law in 1799. He was a staunch Federalist, serving first in the Maryland legislature as a member of the House of Delegates, then as a state senator. He broke with his party during the War of 1812 and eventually switched his allegiance to the Democratic Party, led by Andrew Jackson. By the mid 1820s Taney ’ s politics were Jacksonian in nature. He supported states ’ rights, opposed monopolies, and was the author of Jackson ’ s veto of the act that would have extended the charter of the Bank of the United States. After serving as Jackson ’ s attorney general and briefly as secretary of war, Taney became chief justice of the Supreme Court in 1835.

Chief Justice. Taney was attacked by anti-Jacksonians as a “ political hack ” who was appointed on partisan grounds rather than merit. Others saw him as an unworthy successor to the great John Marshall, who died in July 1835. Taney ’ s decisions conformed to the Jacksonian vision of the West, including its philosophy of state sovereignty, belief in the sanctity of private property, and defense of slavery. Taney heard a broad spectrum of cases over the course of his tenure, and some of the most significant reflected the controversial movements affecting the nation during a period of national expansion. In Charles River Bridge v. Warren Bridge (1837) Taney confronted a conflict arising out of the rapid growth of corporations and the impact of such commercial growth on the rights of communities. “ While the rights of private property are sacredly guarded, ” he wrote in the majority decision, “ we must not forget that the community also have rights, and that the happiness and well being of every citizen depends on their faithful preservation. ” The chief justice sought to protect the rights of states to regulate commerce by interpreting the Constitution ’ s commerce clause — which empowered Congress to regulate interstate trade — narrowly. He was a staunch believer that the states were best suited to respond to the great questions that faced the nation.

Slavery. No doubt Taney believed in the fundamental inequality of races and that whites deserved to be dominant over blacks. To Taney ’ s mind African and European Americans could never peacefully coexist in a nation in which both were free and equal. Such a view placed Taney alongside other white Southerners of his age. Yet however racist he might seem in retrospect, Taney freed his own slaves, which he had inherited though he purchased others, he allowed them to earn manumission through work. He also supported repatriation efforts designed to send blacks back to Africa.

Dred Scott Decision. Taney ’ s decision in Dred Scott v. Sandford can be traced to his convictions regarding the inherent inferiority of people of color, his previous record as a jurist dealing with the issue of slavery, and his adherence to the doctrines of state rights and limited federal power. Slavery was the single most explosive issue in the nation in 1857, and Taney ’ s intent in drafting the Court ’ s opinion was to settle the matter once and for all. He ruled that African Americans could not be citizens of the United States regardless of whether they were slaves or free people and, further, that under the Constitution slaves were property and like all other property could be transported without restriction. Perhaps most significant, Taney struck down the Missouri Compromise and declared that Congress did not have the power to restrict slavery in the Western territories (on the grounds that territories were not yet states). In the wake of Taney ’ s opinion, which also had the effect of reinforcing the Fugitive Slave Act, legislators in some Northern and Western states passed personal liberty laws to demonstrate their continued belief that any slaves who made it to such areas could remain free.

Later Career. For what remained of his life, Taney could not escape the consequences of Dred Scott. Sen. Charles Sumner declared that Taney ’ s name would be “ hooted down the page of history. ” His influence on the Court diminished considerably after 1861. He remained with the Union during the Civil War and attempted, mostly in vain, to uphold the Constitution against some of President Abraham Lincoln ’ s actions. When Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus in April 1861, Taney ruled that the president had acted unlawfully, reminding him of his oath of office and the executive ’ s constitutional duty to faithfully execute the laws. Indicative of both the enormity of the secession crisis and Taney ’ s waning power, Lincoln ignored the bitter and ineffective chief justice. Taney also privately opposed the legality of both the Emancipation Proclamation and conscription. Taney died in Washington, D.C., on 12 December 1864.


The first Taney County Courthouse was built on the mouth of Bull Creek at the confluence of the White River by early pioneers in 1837. Its use as a courthouse ended after Forsyth became the county seat it was destroyed in a tornado in 1963.

The county's second courthouse, in Forsyth, was destroyed in a Civil War battle on July 22, 1861. The rebuilt courthouse was destroyed by fire on December 19, 1885. A third courthouse was removed in 1952 to permit the building of Bull Shoals Lake. The fourth, and present, courthouse was occupied on August 1, 1952. An addition was completed in 1991 after two years of construction.

In 1904, the White River Railway was extended through the rugged terrain of Stone and Taney counties. By then, both counties had for years had a sundown town policy, forbidding African Americans to live there. [3]

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 652 square miles (1,690 km 2 ), of which 632 square miles (1,640 km 2 ) is land and 19 square miles (49 km 2 ) (2.9%) is water. [4]

The county is drained by White River and its affluents. [5]

Adjacent counties Edit

Major highways Edit

National protected area Edit

Historical population
Census Pop.
18504,373 34.0%
18603,576 −18.2%
18704,347 21.6%
18805,599 28.8%
18907,973 42.4%
190010,812 35.6%
19109,287 −14.1%
19208,878 −4.4%
19308,867 −0.1%
194010,323 16.4%
19509,863 −4.5%
196010,238 3.8%
197013,023 27.2%
198020,467 57.2%
199025,561 24.9%
200039,703 55.3%
201051,675 30.2%
2019 (est.)55,928 [6] 8.2%
U.S. Decennial Census [7]
1790-1960 [8] 1900-1990 [9]
1990-2000 [10] 2010-2015 [1]

As of the census [11] of 2000, there were 39,703 people, 16,158 households, and 11,052 families residing in the county. The population density was 24/km 2 (63/mi 2 ). There were 19,688 housing units at an average density of 12/km 2 (31/mi 2 ). The racial makeup of the county was 96.22% White, 0.35% Black or African American, 0.87% Native American, 0.34% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 0.74% from other races, and 1.42% from two or more races. About 2.42% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. Among the major first ancestries reported in Taney County were 20.8% German, 18.9% American, 12.4% Irish, and 12.3% English.

There were 16,158 households, out of which 27.80% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.60% were married couples living together, 8.60% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.60% were non-families. 25.70% of all households were made up of individuals, and 10.00% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.37 and the average family size was 2.83.

In the county, the population was spread out, with 22.40% under the age of 18, 10.20% from 18 to 24, 26.20% from 25 to 44, 25.00% from 45 to 64, and 16.20% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females, there were 94.00 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.40 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $39,771, and the median income for a family was $47,664. Males had a median income of $25,431 versus $19,655 for females. The per capita income for the county was $21,663. About 9.40% of families and 12.40% of the population were below the poverty line, including 17.60% of those under age 18 and 8.80% of those age 65 or over.

Religion Edit

According to the Association of Religion Data Archives County Membership Report (2000), Taney County is a part of the Bible Belt with evangelical Protestantism being the majority religion. The most predominant denominations among residents in Taney County who adhere to a religion are Southern Baptists (32.88%), Roman Catholics (12.36%), and Presbyterians (9.13%).

The Taney County Ambulance District (TCAD) is an emergency medical services (EMS) agency established by public vote in 1971. [12] [13]

The Taney County Sheriff's Office and its jail are in Forsyth, which also has a police department.

Firefighting services are provided by Central Taney County Fire Protection District and Western Taney County Fire Protection District.

Of adults 25 years of age and older in Taney County, 81.4% possess a high school diploma or higher while 14.9% hold a bachelor's degree or higher as their highest educational attainment.

Colleges and universities Edit

Public schools Edit

  • Bradleyville R-I School District - Bradleyville
    • Bradleyville Elementary School (PK-06)
    • Bradleyville High School (07-12)
    • Branson Primary School (PK)
    • Branson Buchanan Elementary (K-04)
    • Branson Cedar Ridge Elementary (K-04)
    • Branson Buchanan Intermediate (04-06)
    • Branson Cedar Ridge Intermediate (04-06)
    • Branson Jr. High School (07-08)
    • Branson High School (09-12)
    • Forsyth Elementary School (K-04)
    • Forsyth Middle School (05-08)
    • Forsyth High School (09-12)
    • Hollister Elementary School (PK-04)
    • Hollister Middle School (05-06)
    • Hollister Jr. High School (07-08)
    • Hollister High School (09-12)
    • Kirbyville Elementary School (K-03)
    • Kirbyville Middle School (04-08)
    • Mark Twain Elementary School (K-08)
    • Taneyville Elementary School (K-08)

    Private schools Edit

      - Hollister - (PK-12) - Non-denominational Christian
  • Riverview Bible Baptist Church School - Forsyth - (05-08) - Baptist
  • School of the Ozarks - Point Lookout
  • Alternative and vocational schools Edit

    Public libraries Edit

    Local Edit

    The Republican Party completely controls politics at the local level in Taney County. Republicans hold every elected position in the county.

    State Edit

    Past Gubernatorial Elections Results
    Year Republican Democratic Third Parties
    2016 71.03% 16,579 25.67% 5,992 3.30% 770
    2012 59.56% 12,761 37.67% 8,071 2.77% 593
    2008 51.16% 10,903 46.31% 9,870 2.53% 540
    2004 68.88% 13,207 29.91% 5,734 1.21% 233
    2000 60.03% 9,003 37.30% 5,594 2.67% 400
    1996 58.07% 7,516 38.89% 5,034 3.04% 394

    Taney County is divided into three legislative districts in the Missouri House of Representatives, all of which are held by Republicans.

    • District 138 — Currently represented by Don Phillips (R-Kimberling City) and consists of a small part the southwestern section of the county.
    • District 155 — Currently represented by Lyle Rowland (R-Cedar Creek) and consists of the eastern part of the county, including Cedar Creek, Forsyth, Kirbyville, Kissee Mills, Powersite, and Taneyville.
    • District 156 — Currently represented by Jeffery Justus (R-Branson) and consists of most of the western part of the county, including Branson, Bull Creek, Hollister, Merriam Woods, Ridgedale, Rockaway Beach, and Table Rock.

    All of Taney County is a part of Missouri's 29th District in the Missouri Senate and is currently represented by David Sater (R-Cassville).

    Missouri Senate — District 29 — Taney County (2016)
    Party Candidate Votes % ±%
    Republican David Sater 19,825 100.00%
    Missouri Senate — District 29 — Taney County (2012)
    Party Candidate Votes % ±%
    Republican David Sater 18,209 100.00%

    Federal Edit

    U.S. Senate — Missouri — Taney County (2016)
    Party Candidate Votes % ±%
    Republican Roy Blunt 16,117 69.00% +12.93
    Democratic Jason Kander 6,143 26.30% -10.49
    Libertarian Jonathan Dine 609 2.61% -4.53
    Green Johnathan McFarland 262 1.12% +1.12
    Constitution Fred Ryman 226 0.97% +0.97
    U.S. Senate — Missouri — Taney County (2012)
    Party Candidate Votes % ±%
    Republican Todd Akin 11,940 56.07%
    Democratic Claire McCaskill 7,834 36.79%
    Libertarian Jonathan Dine 1,520 7.14%

    U.S. House of Representatives — Missouri's 7th Congressional District — Taney County (2016)
    Party Candidate Votes % ±%
    Republican Billy Long 17,569 76.16% +2.99
    Democratic Genevieve Williams 4,664 20.22% -1.15
    Libertarian Benjamin T. Brixey 836 3.62% -1.84
    U.S. House of Representatives — Missouri's 7th Congressional District — Taney County (2014)
    Party Candidate Votes % ±%
    Republican Billy Long 7,709 73.17% +2.55
    Democratic Jim Evans 2,251 21.37% -3.37
    Libertarian Kevin Craig 575 5.46% +0.82
    U.S. House of Representatives — Missouri's 7th Congressional District — Taney County (2012)
    Party Candidate Votes % ±%
    Republican Billy Long 14,841 70.62%
    Democratic Jim Evans 5,199 24.74%
    Libertarian Kevin Craig 975 4.64%

    Political culture Edit

    Presidential elections results [16]
    Year Republican Democratic Third parties
    2020 78.0% 20,508 20.3% 5,339 1.7% 441
    2016 77.2% 18,276 18.5% 4,373 4.3% 1,024
    2012 72.4% 15,746 25.2% 5,479 2.4% 513
    2008 67.8% 14,736 30.7% 6,683 1.5% 322
    2004 70.4% 13,578 29.1% 5,601 0.5% 101
    2000 63.8% 9,647 33.7% 5,092 2.5% 373
    1996 52.0% 6,844 35.1% 4,623 12.9% 1,693
    1992 46.1% 6,081 35.5% 4,682 18.5% 2,442
    1988 64.2% 7,043 35.4% 3,888 0.4% 46
    1984 70.9% 7,082 29.1% 2,912
    1980 63.2% 6,230 34.4% 3,389 2.4% 235
    1976 56.3% 4,696 43.5% 3,626 0.3% 22
    1972 77.6% 4,982 22.4% 1,435
    1968 66.8% 3,289 24.8% 1,219 8.4% 414
    1964 51.9% 2,741 48.1% 2,544
    1960 72.0% 3,692 28.1% 1,439
    1956 68.5% 3,218 31.5% 1,477
    1952 73.2% 3,037 26.5% 1,099 0.3% 12
    1948 62.2% 2,361 37.6% 1,427 0.2% 9
    1944 72.6% 2,499 27.2% 936 0.3% 9
    1940 67.6% 3,167 32.0% 1,497 0.4% 20
    1936 62.0% 2,827 37.5% 1,710 0.5% 23
    1932 51.3% 2,045 47.9% 1,911 0.8% 31
    1928 70.2% 2,319 29.4% 971 0.4% 12
    1924 61.5% 1,710 35.3% 981 3.2% 90
    1920 67.7% 2,001 30.9% 913 1.4% 42
    1916 60.9% 1,123 36.8% 679 2.3% 43
    1912 47.8% 852 33.0% 588 19.2% 343
    1908 61.1% 1,080 35.5% 628 3.3% 59
    1904 64.3% 1,162 31.5% 568 4.2% 76
    1900 59.2% 1,137 39.2% 753 1.7% 32
    1896 52.4% 1,024 47.3% 925 0.4% 7
    1892 59.3% 791 34.4% 459 6.3% 84
    1888 59.0% 827 33.6% 471 7.4% 103

    Like most counties in Southwest Missouri, Taney County is a Republican stronghold in presidential elections. George W. Bush carried Taney County in 2000 and 2004 by more than two-to-one margins. Like many other rural counties throughout Missouri, Taney County strongly favored John McCain over Barack Obama in 2008. The last time the Republican Party failed to carry Taney County was in 1860. [17]

    Like most rural areas throughout the Bible Belt in Southwest Missouri, voters in Taney County traditionally adhere to socially and culturally conservative principles which tend to strongly influence their Republican leanings. In 2004, Missourians voted on a constitutional amendment to define marriage as the union between a man and a woman. It passed Taney County with 80.04 percent of the vote, and the state in general with 71 percent of support from voters, making Missouri the first state to ban same-sex marriage. In 2006, Missourians voted on a constitutional amendment to fund and legalize embryonic stem cell research in the state—it failed in Taney County with 56.64 percent voting against the measure. The initiative narrowly passed the state with 51 percent of support from voters as Missouri became one of the first states in the nation to approve embryonic stem cell research. Despite Taney County's longstanding tradition of supporting socially conservative platforms, voters in the county have a penchant for advancing populist causes like increasing the minimum wage. In 2006, Missourians voted on a proposition (Proposition B) to increase the minimum wage in the state to $6.50 an hour—it passed Taney County with 77.78 percent of the vote. The proposition strongly passed every single county in Missouri with 78.99 percent voting in favor as the minimum wage was increased to $6.50 an hour in the state. During the same election, voters in five other states also strongly approved increases in the minimum wage.

    Missouri presidential preference primary (2008) Edit

    Taney County, Missouri
    2008 Republican primary in Missouri
    John McCain1,784 (25.90%)
    Mike Huckabee3,850 (55.89%)
    Mitt Romney976 (14.17%)
    Ron Paul195 (2.83%)
    Taney County, Missouri
    2008 Democratic primary in Missouri
    Hillary Clinton2,626 (63.69%)
    Barack Obama1,391 (33.74%)
    John Edwards (withdrawn) 78 (1.89%)

    In the 2008 presidential primary, voters in Taney County from both political parties supported candidates who finished in second place in the state at large and nationally.

    Former Governor Mike Huckabee (R-Arkansas) received more votes, a total of 3,850, than any candidate from either party in Taney County during the 2008 presidential primary.

    Legal Document, George Schley v. John Deloshmutt

    Attorney Roger Brooke Taney prepares this document for a lawsuit against John Deloshmutt. Taney's client, George Jacob Schley, argues that Deloshmutt has failed to pay 3 pounds, 11 shillings, and 10 pence half penny for various services, including food and lodging, between November 4, 1799 to.

    Location: I-Friends-1982-8

    Time Period: 1800-1819

    --> Taney, Roger Brooke, 1777-1864

    Roger Taney was Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

    From the description of Miscellaneous manuscripts, 1853. (University of Pennsylvania Library). WorldCat record id: 191048726

    From the description of Autograph letter signed : Baltimore, to J. Kennedy Furlong, 1855 May 25. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270574484

    From the description of Autograph letter signed : Baltimore, to M. St. Clair Clarke, 1842 May 20. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270574480

    Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, 1836-1864.

    From the description of Interrogatories, 1819 December 17. (Natural History Museum Foundation, Los Angeles County). WorldCat record id: 23366657

    Chief justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.

    From the description of Papers, 1809-1863. (Duke University Library). WorldCat record id: 39632574

    BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. Studied at Dickinson College, 1792-1795 read law with Judge Jeremiah Townley Chase, Annapolis, Maryland, 1796-1799 practiced law in Frederick, 1799-1823. Chief Justice of the U. S. Supreme Court, 1836-1864.

    From the description of Papers, 1792-1818, bulk 1805-1812. (University of Virginia). WorldCat record id: 704076602

    Taney, politician and jurist, served as U.S. Attorney General (1831-1833), Secretary of the Treasury (1833-34), and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (1836-1864).

    From the description of Miscellaneous papers, ca. 1810-1864. (Harvard Law School Library). WorldCat record id: 235153963

    Studied at Dickinson College, 1792-1795 read law with Judge Jeremiah Townley Chase, Annapolis, Maryland, 1796-1799 practiced law in Frederick, 1799-1823. Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, 1836-1864.

    From the description of Papers, 1792-1818, bulk 1805-1812. (University of Virginia). WorldCat record id: 20973596

    Roger Brooke Taney was an American politician and jurist.

    He was born in 1777. He served as U.S. Attorney General (1831-33), Secretary of the Treasury (1833-1834), and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (1836-1864). Roger Brooke Taney died in 1864.

    From the description of Roger Brooke Taney collection, 1811-1856. (Johns Hopkins University). WorldCat record id: 49308210


    Fehrenbacker, Don E. 1979 The Dred Scott Case: Its Significance in American Law and Politics. New York: Oxford University Press.

    Harris, Robert J. 1957 (1966) Chief Justice Taney: Prophet of Reform and Reaction. Pages 93–118 in Leonard W. Levy, ed., American Constitutional Law: Historical Essays. New York: Harper & Row.

    Lewis, Walker 1965 Without Fear or Favor: A Biography of Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

    Swisher, Carl B. 1935 Roger B. Taney. New York: Macmillan.

    ——1974 The Taney Period, 1835–64. Volume 5 of The Oliver Wendell Holmes Devise History of The Supreme Court of the United States. New York: Macmillan.

    Roger B. Taney Was as Bad as You Think

    Roger Brooke Taney, the fifth chief justice of the United States Supreme Court, died late in the evening on October 12, 1864. The following day Maryland voters narrowly approved a new state constitution that abolished slavery. When hundreds of African-Americans marched to the White House to celebrate, Abraham Lincoln observed that “it is difficult to realize that in the state where human slavery has existed for ages . . . by the action of her own citizens, the soil is made forever free.” Taney, one of Maryland’s most prominent citizens, would not have shared Lincoln’s satisfaction. As the author of the Dred Scott decision, he denied that blacks could be American citizens and declared congressional prohibition of slavery in the territories unconstitutional.

    On October 13, 2016, the Historic Preservation Commission in Frederick, Maryland, where Taney worked as a lawyer and is buried, voted four to one to remove a bronze bust of Taney from the courtyard of city hall. A recent story in the New York Times recounts the efforts of Frederick residents, both black and white, to transfer the Taney bust to a site that would not convey public approval—a process that has been delayed by the city’s inability to find a suitable location. Only last month did Frederick’s Mount Olivet Cemetery, which is privately owned, agree to display Taney’s likeness. The former chief justice has thus been swept up in a national debate over the future of Confederate images on state and city property throughout the South.

    However, Taney’s legacy has been particularly controversial, in part because he was not, strictly speaking, a Confederate. Already eighty-four years old when Fort Sumter surrendered, the chief justice did not resign his seat on the Court. Contrary to what some historians have claimed, he did not believe secession was constitutional. And yet his Dred Scott opinion had helped fuel secession by giving the southern position on slavery constitutional validation. Furthermore, while he may have denied the constitutionality of secession, Taney clearly believed it was morally justified. He blamed the crisis on “free state aggression” and denied that the federal government possessed any “rightful power to bring back by force the states into the Union.” In a private letter to former President Franklin Pierce, the chief justice expressed his hope that Americans would soon recognize “that a peaceful separation, with free institutions in each section is far better than the union of all the present states under a military government, and a reign of terror preceded too by a civil war with all its horrors.” Later, when his wife’s grandnephew visited him before heading off to join the Confederate army, Taney expressed approval: “The circumstances under which you are going are not unlike those under which your grandfather went into the Revolutionary War.”

    As the conflict progressed, Taney’s opinions, both public and private, made it clear that he was eager to hinder Lincoln’s ability to successfully prosecute the war. He denied the president’s authority to suspend the writ of habeas corpus. He considered the blockade, conscription, the Legal Tender Act, and the Emancipation Proclamation unconstitutional. Fortunately for the Union war effort, cases involving habeas corpus, the draft, legal tender, and emancipation never made it to the Taney Court. And by 1863, as Lincoln appointees replaced justices who had died or resigned, Taney, who was frequently ill and absent from the Court in any case, found himself with little power to challenge the administration.

    As for Taney’s views on slavery, the Times contends that they were “ambiguous.” Yet a thorough examination of the evidence fails to confirm this assertion. It is true that some historians have held to the notion that Taney was personally opposed to slavery. The primary evidence they offer—which the Times mentions—is the Gruber case of 1818, in which Taney, as defense attorney for an abolitionist preacher, had denounced slavery as “a blot on our national character” that should be gradually wiped away. Around the same time, he freed most of his own slaves. Yet for the remainder of his life, Taney’s views were uniformly proslavery. As Andrew Jackson’s attorney general, he presaged his Dred Scott opinion when he announced that free blacks had no legal rights, only privileges. In response to a sympathetic Congregationalist minister who had written him in the aftermath of Dred Scott, Taney made the typical southern argument that slaves were “usually cheerful and contented, and free from any distressing wants, or anxieties. He is well taken care of in infancy, in sickness, and in old age.”

    In 1857 the chief justice predicated the opinion of the Court in Dred Scott primarily on his own distinctly proslavery interpretation of American history. He devoted twenty-four pages of his fifty-five-page opinion to the question of black citizenship—the issue upon which Scott’s owner had challenged Scott’s right to sue in federal court. As Lincoln argued in 1858, and as historians have subsequently maintained, Taney’s purpose was “to meet every threat to southern stability by separating the Negro race absolutely from the federal Constitution and all the rights it bestowed.” Through a highly biased examination of popular animosity toward and legal restrictions placed upon African-Americans at the time of the Revolution, he determined that when the Declaration of Independence was written, and when the Constitution was adopted, blacks had long been regarded as “beings of an inferior order . . . so far inferior, that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.” Here, and throughout his opinion, Taney revealed his determination to group slaves and free blacks together in a single legal category based on race. Free blacks and black slaves were equally inferior and equally disqualified for citizenship. He offered the Declaration as proof. It was “too clear for dispute” he insisted, “that the enslaved African race were not intended to be included, and formed no part of the people who framed and adopted this declaration.”

    It is unsurprising that Taney’s legacy engendered controversy soon after his death, given that he had also used his Dred Scott opinion to invalidate the primary purpose of the pre-war Republican Party, which was to prohibit the extension of slavery into the territories. “The right of property in a slave,” Taney had proclaimed, “is distinctly and expressly affirmed in the Constitution.”

    In late February 1865, Congress considered a bill to appropriate $1000 for a marble bust of the late chief justice. It was to be placed in the Supreme Court alongside the busts of Taney’s predecessors. Republican senators immediately expressed opposition. Benjamin Wade of Ohio declared that his state “would pay $2000 to hang this man in effigy rather than $1000 to commemorate his merits.” Charles Sumner dramatically told the bill’s sponsor that “the name of Taney is to be hooted down the page of history. Judgment is beginning now and an emancipated country will fasten upon him the stigma which he deserves.” In less vituperative terms, Sumner’s Massachusetts colleague Henry Wilson noted that a government act erecting a bust of any man in a public place was an indication to the world, and to posterity, that the people honor his memory and “cherish his fame.” “If it has not that meaning,” he reasoned, “it has no meaning at all.”

    The Senate did vote to appropriate the funds for Taney’s bust—but not until 1874.

    The congressional debate over Taney’s memory raises an important question. Is the removal of statues and flags, or the renaming of parks, highways, and college buildings, necessary to convey public disapproval of those who were previously honored? Some, including a majority of Frederick residents who spoke before the Historic Preservation Commission, argue that removal whitewashes the history of white supremacy and inhibits discussion and understanding. Others view public monuments to slavery’s apologists (and monuments to a slaveholders’ rebellion) as a deeply offensive sign of our failure to appreciate the scope and persistent consequences of America’s racist legacy. There can be little doubt that American history illustrates both the very best and the very worst human motivations. In so doing, it offers the context in which we can better understand the world around us. The nation’s history of slavery and discrimination should not be hidden away. Defenders of American servitude belong in classrooms and museums, and at state and national historic sites—places where that context can be explored. They do not belong in places where their presence is intended primarily as a public honor.

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    People, Locations, Episodes

    *Roger Brooke Taney was born on this date in 1777. He was a white-American lawyer and judge who supported slavery.

    Born in Calvert County, Maryland, Taney (pronounced Tony) came from a wealthy slave-owning family of tobacco farmers. He studied law in Annapolis and was in the same class with Francis Scott Key. He joined the House of Maryland Assembly in 1799 and became a prominent attorney in that state by 1825. Taney also became the Attorney General of Maryland two years later. President Andrew Jackson appointed Taney Secretary of the Treasury in 1831. In 1836, he was appointed the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court.

    He presided over abolitionist Thomas Garrett's trial in 1848 and the Dred Scott Case in 1857. Taney felt that the police power of a state entitled it to make reasonable regulatory laws even if they appeared to override provisions of the U.S. Constitution. He held that, although Congress alone had the power to regulate interstate commerce, a state might exclude a corporation organized elsewhere. In sustaining fugitive slave laws, however, Taney denied to Free states the power of refusing obedience to federal statutes requiring the surrender of escaped slaves.

    His position on the slavery laws was most clearly expressed in the Dred Scott Case (1857). Here he held that slaves (and even the free descendants of slaves) were not citizens and may not sue in the federal courts. He also believed that Congress could not forbid slavery in the territories of the United States. He died in 1864.

    The Encyclopedia Britannica, Fifteenth Edition.
    Copyright 1996 Encyclopedia Britannica Inc.
    ISBN 0-85229-633-0

    Watch the video: Roger B Taney (January 2022).