History of Taney II - History

History of Taney II - History

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Taney II

(Coast Guard Cutter No. 68: dp. 2,702 (f.), l. 327', b. 41'2"; dr. 14' (mean); s. 20.8 k.; cpl. 123; a. 2 5".2 6-pdrs., 1 1-pdr., 2 .50-car. mg.; cl. "Secretary")

Roger B. Taney (Coast Guard Cutter No. 68) was laid down on 1 May 1935 at the Philadelphia Navy Yard; launched on 3 June 1936, sponsored by Miss Corinne F. Taney; and commissioned at Philadelphia on 24 October 1936, Comdr. W. K. Thompson, USCG, in command.

Roger B. Taney departed Philadelphia on 19 December, transited the Panama Canal from the 27th to the 29th, and arrived at her home port, Honolulu, Territory of Hawaii, on 18 January 1937. She conducted local operations out of Honolulu through the summer of 1937.

Roger B. Taney had arrived in the Pacific at a time when the United States was expanding its commercial air travel capabilities. The "Clipper" flights across the Pacific to the Far East made islands like Hawaii, Midway, Guam, and Wake important way-stations. Other islands and islets assumed greater importance when a route across the South Pacific was mapped out to Australia and Samoa. The military benefits which accrued to the United States by its expansion onto some of the more strategic bits of land in the broad Pacific were not lost upon President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who undertook, in the late 1930's, to annex territory in the Pacific.

Two such places were Canton and Enderbury Islands. Roger B. Taney played a role in their colonization by the United States. In early March 1938, the Coast Guard cutter loaded supplies and embarked colonists who would establish the claim of the United States upon the two islands that seemed-at least to the uninitiated —to be mere hunks of coral, rock, and scrub in the Central Pacific. Taney disembarked four Hawaiians at Enderbury Island on 6 March 1938 and landed a second contingent-of seven colonists-at Canton Island on the next day. The men, assisted by the Coast Guardsmen, erected buildings and laid the foundations for future signal towers.

The Coast Guard's task over the ensuing years leading up to the outbreak of war in the Pacific was to supply these isolated way-stations along the transpacific air routes and to relieve the colonists at stated intervals. Taney performed these supply missions into 1940. Meanwhile, tension continued to rise in the Far East as Japan cast covetous glances at the American British, Dutch, and French colonial possessions and marched deeper into embattled China.

As the Navy and Coast Guard began gradually increasing and augmenting the armament on its vessels to prepare them for the inexorably advancing war, Roger B. Taney underwent her first major rearmament at the Pearl Harbor Navy Yard in December 1940. She received her last major pre-war refit at the Mare Island Navy Yard, Vallejo, Calif., in the spring of the following year, 1941.

On 25 July 1941, the Coast Guard cutter was transferred to the Navy and reported for duty with the local defense forces of the 14th Naval District, maintaining her base at Honolulu. By this time, the ship's name had apparently been shortened to Taney.

Outside of another "line island cruise" in the late summer, Taney operated locally out of Honolulu into the critical fall of 1941. She conducted regular harbor entrance and channel patrols, alternating often with one of the four old destroyers of Destroyer Division 80: Allen (DD-66), Schley (DD-103), Chew (DD-106), and Ward (DD-139).

The message: "Air Raid, Pearl Harbor. This is no drill" came at 0755 on 7 December, as Japanese planes swept overhead in an attempt to cripple the Pacific Fleet's retaliatory power. Taney, moored alongside Pier 6, Honolulu harbor, stood to her antiaircraft guns swiftly when word of the surprise attack reached her simultaneously. As no Japanese attacks were directed at Honolulu harbor, the Coast Guard cutter was only given the opportunity to fire at stray aircraft which happened to venture into her vicinity. She was firing upon unidentified aircraft as late as noon, indicating that the eager Coast Guardsmen were probably shooting at American planes-not Japanese.

Taney patrolled the waters off Honolulu for the remainder of 1941 and into 1942, conducting many depth charge attacks on suspected submarines in the wake of the Pearl Harbor attack. During this time, the ship received the classification WPG-37. On 22 January 1942, the cutter departed Honolulu in company with SS Barbara Olson, and arrived at Canton Island on the 28th. After sending a working party ashore to unload supplies, Taney screened Barbara Olson offshore until 7 February, when both ships got underway to evacuate the American colony on Enderbury Island. Embarking the four colonists at 1015 that day, Taney shelled the island and destroyed the buildings there before sailing for Jarvis Island.

Taney subsequently escorted her merchantman consort to Jarvis Island, where she evacuated the four Interior Department colonists and burned all structures to the ground before departing. Reaching Palmyra on the 12th, the ships remained there until the 15th, before

Taney headed back for the Hawaiian Islands, arriving at Honolulu on 5 March.

Taney operated locally out of Honolulu into 1943 before sailing for Boston late that winter. Prior to heading for the east coast, the ship received a regunning at Mare Island, being fitted with four singlemount, 5-inch guns, making her the only ship in her class with this mod)fication. After making port at Boston on 14 March 1944, Taney soon shifted south to Hampton Roads, where she arrived on 31 March. Early in April, she departed Norfolk as a unit of Task Force (TF) 66 as convoy guide for convoy UGS~8.

The passage across the Atlantic proved uneventful as the convoy made landfall off the Azores on 13 April. Some 35 minutes after sunset on the 20th, the convoy was spotted and tracked by the Germans, who launched a three-pronged attack with Junkers 88's and Heinkel ill's participating. Each flew very low, using the shoreline as a background, thus confusing the search radar of the Allied ships. The first wave struck from dead ahead, torpedoing SS Paul Hamilton and SS Samite. The former, which had been carrying ammunition, blew up in a shattering explosion-and all 504 men on board her were killed in the blast.

The second wave of German torpedo planes bagged SS Stephen F. Au~tin and SS Royal Star, during this melee, two torpedoes churned past Taney close aboard. The third wave mortally wounded Lansdale (DD-426), which later sank. All of the damaged vessels-save Paul Hamilton and Lansdale-reached Bizerte, Tunisia, on the 21st. Taney later departed Bizerte with homeward-bound convoy GUS-38 and arrived at New York on 21 May.

The Coast Guard cutter conducted two more roundtrip convoy escort missions, with convoys UGS/GUS45 and UGS/GUS-52. Detached as a unit of TF 66 on 9 October 1944, Taney sailed for the Boston Navy Yard soon thereafter for extensive yard work to convert her to an amphibious command ship. During this metamorphosis, Taney-classified as WAGC-37—was fitted with accommodations for an embarked flag officer and his staff, as well as with increased communications and radar facilities. Her main battery, too, underwent a change: she now sported two open-mount 5-inch guns as well as 40 and 20 millimeter antiaircraft guns. With the work completed in early January 1945, Taney departed Boston on 19 January, bound for Norfolk, Va.

She conducted shakedown and training in her new configuration before departing the east coast and sailing, via the Panama Canal and San Diego, to Hawaii. Arriving at Pearl Harbor On 22 February 1945 she soon embarked Rear Admiral Calvin H. Cobb and later underwent various minor repairs. New communications equipment was also installed before the ship departed the Hawaiian Islands for the Marshalls on 10 March.

Taney proceeded independently via Eniwetok and arrived at Ulithi on 23 March, remaining there until 7 April. Joining TG 51.8, the amphibious command ship proceeded to Okinawa and arrived off the Hagushi beaches amidst air raid alerts on the 11th. During one raid, her antiaircraft gunners scored at least three hits on a "Betty" bomber which crossed the ship's bow 1,200 yards away, and later during her first day at Okinawa experienced four more "red alerts." The ship briefly shifted to Kerama Retto from the 13th to the 15th before returning to Hanushi on the latter date.

By the end of May, Taney had gone to general quarters 119 times, with the crew remaining at battle stations for up to nine hours at a stretch. During this period off Okinawa in April and May, Taney downed four suicide planes and assisted in numerous other "kills." The command ship also conducted combat information center duties, maintaining complete radar and air coverage, receiving and evaluating information on both friendly and enemy activities. On one occasion, Taney's duties took her close inshore-close enough to even receive fire close aboard from a Japanese shore battery.

Suicide air attacks by the Japanese continued throughout June, although most were intercepted by combat air patrol (CAP) fighters and downed before they could reach their targets. Such raids took place on 18 out of 30 days that month. On 25 June, at 0120 a float seaplane passed near Taney, provoking return fire from the command ship and batteries ashore which combined to splash the intruder. During this month long period, at least 288 enemy planes attacked the ships in Taney~s vicinity, and at least 96 of these were destroyed.

As if the Japanese menace alone were not enough, in mid-July a typhoon forced the ships at Hagushi to take evasive action. Taney led a convoy eastward on the 19th and returned the next day when the storm passed. She performed the same duties again on the first day of the following month when she led a convoy to sea on typhoon-evasion operations. The ship returned to its anchorage on the 3d.

The end of the war found Taney still off Okinawa. On 16 August, she got underway to support Pennsylvania (BB 38) as three Japanese planes were detected approaching from the northeast. One crashed 30 miles to the north, and two splashed into the sea shortly thereafter. On 25 August, TG 95.5 was dissolved, and Rear Admiral Cobb, who had been embarked during the Okinawa campaign, hauled down his flag and departed.

Taney soon proceeded to Japan, where she took part in the occupation of Wakayama, anchoring off the port city on 11 September and sending a working party ashore the next day. While anchored there, Taney weathered a typhoon which swirled by on the 17th. She was, in fact, one of the few ships which stayed at her berth during the storm, her ground tackle holding well in the sticky clay bottom.

Departing Wakayama on 14 October, Taney returned to the west coast of the United States, via Midway and arrived at San Francisco on 29 October. Moving on for the east coast, Taney transited the Panama Canal and later arrived at her ultimate destination, Charleston, S.C., on 29 November. During the ensuing period of conversion, the Coast Guard vessel was reconfigured as a patrol cutter. She now sported a main battery of a single-mount, 5 inch gun, a hedgehog, a twin 40-millimeter mount, and two 20-millimeter guns in addition to depth charge tracks and projectors.

Upon shifting back to the west coast, Taney was based at Alameda, Calif., into the 1970's. Although she is listed with the ships receiving engagement stars for Korean service, she has no awards listed, indicating her presence only in a support role outside the geographical vicinity of Korean waters. She served as an ocean station weather ship; a fishery patrol vessel

and a search and rescue ship. Having been reclassified back to gunboat-WPG 37—the ship was now reclassified again, this time as a high-endurance cutter, and received the designation of WHEC-37 in June of

In the spring of 1969, Taney participated in Operation "Market Time" off the coast of Vietnam. She served a 10-month tour of duty, providing gunfire support and preventing enemy infiltration along the coastal routes used by the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese forces.

In 1972, Taney was shifted back to the east coast and was assigned duty on the last sea-going weather station: "Hotel" off the coasts of Maryland and Virginia. Fitted with a special storm-tracking antenna housed in a distinctive bulbous dome fitted atop her pilot house, Taney deployed seven times yearly, conducting 21 deployments 200 miles off the coast. This last ocean station had been established to track storms threatening the middle states on the east coast which had often struck without warning. Eventually, the use of more sophisticated storm-tracking satellites and radars rendered this station obsolete. Hence, Ocean Station 'Hotel" was closed down in 1977.

Now based out of Norfolk, Va., Taney stands ready to conduct search and rescue missions at sea to protect American fisheries and to enforce the 200-mile limit. She served into 1979 in keeping with the Coast Guard's motto: "Always Ready" Semper Paratus

Taney received three battle stars for World War II service.

President Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus is challenged

On May 27, 1861, Chief Justice Roger B. Taney of Maryland issues Ex parte Merryman, challenging the authority of President Abraham Lincoln and the U.S. military to suspend the writ of habeas corpus (the legal procedure that prevents the government from holding an individual indefinitely without showing cause) in Maryland.

Early in the war, President Lincoln faced many difficulties due to the fact that Washington was located in slave territory. Although Maryland did not secede, Southern sympathies were widespread. On April 27, 1861, Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus between Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia to give military authorities the necessary power to silence dissenters and rebels. Under this order, commanders could arrest and detain individuals who were deemed threatening to military operations. Those arrested could be held without indictment or arraignment.

On May 25, John Merryman, a vocal secessionist, was arrested in Cockeysville, Maryland. He was held at Ft. McHenry in Baltimore, where he appealed for his release under a writ of habeas corpus. The federal circuit court judge was Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, who issued a ruling, Ex parte Merryman, denying the president’s authority to suspend habeas corpus. Taney denounced Lincoln’s interference with civil liberties and argued that only Congress had the power to suspend the writ.

Lincoln did not respond directly to Taney’s edict, but he did address the issue in his message to Congress that July. He justified the suspension through Article I, Section 9, of the Constitution, which specifies a suspension of the writ “when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it.”

Name Change Voted for National Historical Landmark: A Fresh Look at History

The USCGC Taney was named after the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Roger B. Taney, who authored the 1857 Dred Scott decision. The Court in that case held that the U.S. Constitution was not meant to include American citizenship for black people, regardless of whether they were enslaved or free, and so the rights and privileges that the Constitution confers upon American citizens could not apply to them.

The USCGC Taney was a United States Coast Guard Cutter, now a National Historical Landmark. The Taney is notable as the last warship floating that fought in the attack on Pearl Harbor, although Taney was moored in nearby Honolulu Harbor, not Pearl Harbor itself.

Serving her country for 50 years, Taney saw action in both theaters of combat in World War II, serving as command ship at the Battle of Okinawa, and as a fleet escort in the Atlantic and Mediterranean. She also served in the Vietnam War, taking part in Operation Market Time. Peacetime duties included the Taney patrolling the seas working in drug interdiction and fisheries protection.

She was decommissioned in 1986, and has since served as a museum ship in the Inner Harbor of Baltimore, Maryland. She was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1988.

Unfortunately for the great ship and the crews that proudly sailed her, USCGC Taney was named after the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Roger B. Taney, who authored the 1857 Dred Scott decision. The Court in that case held that the U.S. Constitution was not meant to include American citizenship for black people, regardless of whether they were enslaved or free, and so the rights and privileges that the Constitution confers upon American citizens could not apply to them.

After the Civil War, the 13th Amendment and 14th Amendments effectively overturned the Dred Scott decision.

The USCGC Taney was a Treasury Class ship – it was one of seven vessels named for former Secretaries of the Treasury (The U.S. Coast Guard has existed in different executive departments over time, including the Departments of Treasury, Transportation, and its current home in the Department of Homeland Security. Although is it a military branch, because the Coast Guard has maritime law enforcement duties, it cannot be in the Department of Defense). The Taney was named for a Secretary of the Treasury, with the unintended consequence being that the same person also produced the awful Dred Scott decision as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

The museum which holds USCGC Taney in the public trust is making plans with the City of Baltimore to rename the ship in response to the national outcry about monuments to racism. The name Taney has already been cut off the stern of the ship.

The name Taney has already been cut off the stern of the ship. Photo courtesy by Frank Gaynor


I sailed on USCGC Taney in 1984 for a few days, filming a recruiting commercial. Like many sailors, I have the general opposition to changing the name of a ship. Mariners have legends and traditions and believe that after a ship is named and christened, changing the name of a ship is considered bad luck. This may be because sailors believed their boats took on a mind of their own once they were named.

I am also an attorney, and hold trust in the Founders, the Constitution, and the Rule of Law. The Dred Scott decision of 1857 was an abomination, and people at the time recognized it as such. America suffered 750,000 deaths from 1861-1865 to right the wrong of slavery during the Civil War. The Dred Scott decision did not stand long, as the 13 th Amendment was passed in 1865 and the 14 th Amendment was passed in 1868.

In the case of the Taney name change, it may be time to support this new look at history. No one can defend the Dred Scott decision, and Roger B. Taney cannot be excused as being “a man of his time” – he was educated and had the responsibility of the office of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. He might have lived during the time of slavery, but he was also an American, representing all of our ideals of equality and freedom, and to deny the citizenship of an entire race of individuals under the color of law is unacceptable. Thank goodness that others of that time took action, and adopted the 13 th and 14 th Amendments to the Constitution.

The board of directors of the parent organization that operates Historic Ships in Baltimore, Living Classroom Foundation, voted unanimously recently to change Taney’s name following a vote by Historic Ships in Baltimore’s advisory board. The people in charge of this National Historical Landmark took what they thought was appropriate action there was no vandalism or violence, but reasoned action after thoughtful consideration.

The Living Classroom Foundation plans on forming a committee with the city and community organizations to choose a new name for the ship. Some options are “Thurgood Marshall”, the first black Supreme Court Justice, and another candidate is “Cutter 37” – hardly inspiring, and an affront to many Taney sailors.

Perhaps the committee should choose a name more significant to the controversy. USCGC Taney, named for the author of the horrible Supreme Court decision that attempted to normalize institutional racism, might be better christened the USCGC Dred Scott. Dred Scott sued for his emancipation, using the rule of law. Mr. Scott was an ordinary man, a slave, not a Cabinet Secretary or a Chief Justice. To try to change things, he did not engage in vandalism and violence. Although he himself was unsuccessful, his commitment to the rule of law and the power of right eventually changed our country. To truly move forward as a society, we must revisit past decisions but do so through the application of lawful and peaceful means.

Whatever the name change, it will be important that the total history be told, through exhibits associated with the new name of the ship. And as a nod to all of the noble mariners who sailed upon the Taney, and to tradition, a formal re-naming ritual should take place. Smooth sailing to those entrusted with this National Historic Landmark.

Main Photo caption: USCGC Taney (WHEC-37) docked at the Inner Harbor as a museum ship in Baltimore, USA. Photo by Joe Ravi CC-BY-SA 3.0
Stern photo caption: The name Taney has already been cut off the stern of the ship. Photo courtesy by Frank Gaynor

High-resolution images are available to schools and libraries via subscription to American History, 1493-1943. Check to see if your school or library already has a subscription. Or click here for more information. You may also order a pdf of the image from us here.

Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC04393 Author/Creator: Taney, Roger Brooke (1777-1864) Place Written: New York, New York Type: Pamphlet Date: 1860 Pagination: 48 p. 21.5 x 14.3 cm.

A pamphlet containing Taney's ruling in the Dred Scott case, as well as two articles asserting the inferiority of "the negro race." One is an introduction by Van Evrie stating "the Supreme Court, in the Dred Scott decision, has defined the relations, and fixed the status of the subordinate race forever-for that decision is in accord with the natural relations of the races, and therefore can never perish. It is based on historical and existing facts, which are indisputable, and it is a necessary, indeed unavoidable inference, from these facts." The other is an essay by Cartwright entitled "Natural History of the Prognatuos Race of Mankind," a pseudo-scientific attempt to create a racial hierarchy. Published by Van Evrie, Horton & Co.

History of Taney II - History

A new book, The Chief Justices, by former Chicago Bar Association President Dan Cotter profiles the 17 men who have held the title Chief Justice of the United States. In this second of two excerpts (Part I can be read here), we learn about Taney’s tenure as chief and his legacy.

The Taney Court

When Taney began his tenure as chief justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, the Court was held in “relatively high prestige” that had been “acquired for the most part during the years when John Marshall was Chief Justice.” The Taney Court issued a series of decisions that substantially narrowed the role of the federal government in economic regulation. Unlike Marshall, he and other Jackson Supreme Court appointees favored the powers of the states over the powers of the federal government.

The Taney Court also issued opinions in a number of noteworthy cases, such as the Charles River Bridge and Amistad cases. The Charles River Bridge case was decided during Taney’s first term as chief justice but had come before the Court six years earlier so still had to be decided. The Taney Court decided cases in a variety of areas, with three major groups dominating his Court: (1) rights of corporations, (2) the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution, and (3) questions of property and slavery.

Despite the longevity of Taney as chief justice and the various developments in law the Taney Court made, the Taney Court is remembered most for the 1857 decision in Dred Scott v. Sandford, holding by a 7-2 margin that Congress had no authority or power to prevent the spread of slavery into federal territories and that, at the time of the country’s founding, African Americans were not U.S. citizens nor was such citizenship contemplated.

One justice, Benjamin Robbins Curtis, was so upset by the decision that he left the bench, the first and only justice known to have resigned on principle.

Roger Taney’s legacy was made by the Dred Scott decision. When the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill in 1865 to commission funds for a bust of Taney to be placed in the Supreme Court along with his predecessors, Senator Charles Sumner argued against it, calling the Dred Scott decision “more thoroughly abominable than anything of the kind in the history of the courts.”

Taney, the twenty-fourth justice and fifth chief, was the first of thirteen Catholic justices. Currently, five of nine justices are Catholic.

Dred Scott Decision

Dred Scott was born into slavery in Virginia around 1799 but was moved to Missouri where he was sold to Dr. John Emerson, an army surgeon. Given Dr. Emerson’s military career, he moved frequently and took Scott with him. Eventually, Dr. Emerson moved with Scott to the State of Illinois and the Territory of Wisconsin, both free territories. While in the Wisconsin Territory, Scott married Harriett Robinson, another slave who was also sold to Dr. Emerson. In 1838, Dr. Emerson married Eliza Irene Sandford from St. Louis. In 1843, Dr. Emerson died shortly after returning to his family from the Seminole War in Florida. His slaves continued to work for Mrs. Emerson and were, as was common at the time, occasionally hired out to others. In 1846, Dred and Harriet Scott each filed suit in St. Louis to obtain their freedom, on the basis that they had lived in a free state and territory, and the rule in Missouri and some other jurisdictions at the time was “once free, always free.” When the suit reached the Supreme Court of the United States, the main issue presented was whether slaves had standing to sue in federal courts.

Background of the Case

Numerous precedents in Missouri case law, including Rachael v. Walker (1837), established the legal principle of “once free, always free.” The judge declared a mistrial when the case was heard in 1847, and when it was retried in 1850, the St. Louis court ordered Dred Scott free—the Scotts agreed that only Dred’s case would proceed in order to save money and avoid duplicate efforts and all parties agreed that the outcome of Dred’s case would also apply to Harriet. In Scott v. Emerson (1852), the Missouri Supreme Court decided against Scott, reversing the lower court decision, and noting that Missouri law would not be subject to outside antislavery arguments. By its decision, the Missouri Supreme Court overturned the long-held principle of “once free, always free.” The Missouri Supreme Court explained its decision in stark terms and why it was overruling precedents:

Times are not now as they were when the former decisions on this subject were made. Since then not only individuals but States have been possessed with a dark and fell spirit in relation to slavery, whose gratification is sought in the pursuit of measures, whose inevitable consequences must be the overthrow and destruction of our government.

The Controversy

Seeking to have the Supreme Court of the United States opine on the legality of Missouri’s invalidation of the “once free, always free” principle, Scott’s attorneys filed a new suit in federal court, Dred Scott v. John F. A. Sandford (Sanford’s name was misspelled due to a clerical error).

The U.S. District Court for the District of Missouri directed the jury to consider the question of whether Scott was free, or a slave based on Missouri law. Based on the Emerson decision, the jury found that Scott was a slave.

The Supreme Court Decision

Scott appealed to the Supreme Court. Initially, the Supreme Court was inclined to affirm the Missouri Supreme Court decision based on Strader v. Graham (1851), a decision of the Supreme Court allowing the Court to affirm a state supreme court decision without hearing it on the merits. However, some of the justices suggested that the Supreme Court address issues that until then remained unresolved, including those that Sanford’s attorneys raised during the federal lawsuit, such as Scott’s ability to sue in federal court and whether a black person could be a citizen of the United States. The main issue before the Supreme Court was whether Scott had ever been free.

The case originally was argued on February 11–14, 1856, but the justices were divided on their views and with the presidential election of 1856 coming, Taney “was doubtless relieved, when [Associate Justice] Samuel Nelson, declaring himself in doubt on certain points, requested that the case be reargued.” Taney granted Nelson’s request, and the rehearing took place on December 15–18, 1856, after the election was over.

After the oral arguments, and when President-elect Buchanan visited Washington prior to his inauguration, Buchanan wrote Justice John Catron, “asking him whether the Dred Scott case would be decided before the date of inauguration.” Catron inquired and informed Buchanan the case was to be decided at the next conference. Buchanan also wrote to Justice Robert Cooper Grier, attempting to influence his position and have him vote as a Northerner with the majority.

Delivered on March 6, 1857, the Court, by a 7-2 decision, held that blacks were not and could not be citizens of the United States and, as a result, Scott lacked standing to sue in federal courts. The Court also found that Scott had never been free, finding that Congress exceeded its authority when it forbade or abolished slavery in the territories, invalidating the Missouri Compromise. Having found a lack of standing, this second issue should not have been addressed by the Court. Chief Justice Roger Taney wrote for the majority:

In discussing this question, we must not confound the rights of citizenship which a State may confer within its own limits and the rights of citizenship as a member of the Union. It does not by any means follow, because he has all the rights and privileges of a citizen of a State, that he must be a citizen of the United States. He may have all of the rights and privileges of the citizen of a State and yet not be entitled to the rights and privileges of a citizen in any other State. For, previous to the adoption of the Constitution of the United States, every State had the undoubted right to confer on whomsoever it pleased the character of citizen, and to endow him with all its rights. But this character, of course, was confined to the boundaries of the State, and gave him no rights or privileges in other States beyond those secured to him by the laws of nations and the comity of States.

The Dred Scott decision is a landmark decision because it answered questions regarding slavery that the Court had not previously addressed. It is also one of the most infamous decisions, furthering the great divide facing the nation regarding the question of slavery and moving the country further down the path toward the Civil War. The Dred Scott decision undermined the prestige of the Supreme Court and virtually all legal scholars consider it to be the worst decision ever issued by the Supreme Court. The Dred Scott decision was overturned when the Civil War ended, and the Civil War Amendments were ratified. However, the Dred Scott decision began a long period of time where the Supreme Court “declined in popular esteem.” The decision should not have surprised much, given the “Taney Court was staunchly pro-slavery, rejecting states’ rights when Northerners asserted them to oppose slavery.”


The Dred Scott decision, rather than eliminating slavery as a national issue of debate, angered Northeners and strengthened the Republican Party, which was anti-slavery. In 1860, Abraham Lincoln won the presidency, and secession ensued by the southern states. Taney remained on the Court, taking the position that the states had a right to secede and also blaming the Republicans and especially Lincoln for starting the war. Taney and Lincoln would butt heads for the remaining time that Taney was on the Supreme Court and, in Ex parte Merryman, Taney held that power to suspend habeas corpus resided in Congress and a president had no power to do so. The Merryman decision was one that Taney filed with a federal circuit court and not as a Supreme Court justice. Toward the end of the Civil War, in 1863, the Supreme Court held in the Prize Cases that President Lincoln had the power to order a blockade and seize ships, with Chief Justice Taney dissenting.

Taney died on October 12, 1864, aged 87.

As noted, the decision issued by the Taney Court in Dred Scott has (fairly) cast a large shadow on the legacy and lasting reputation of Taney. His tenure as chief justice of the Supreme Court “started and ended” with “sharp and lingering controversy.” According to Stevens, the only good to come from the decision was Abraham Lincoln criticizing it and “helped get him elected president of the United States.” But contemporaries were divided on the decision, and despite his dissent in Dred Scott, Curtis referred to Taney as a “man of singular purity of life and character.” More recently, Justice Antonin Scalia, in his dissent in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, referring to Taney’s “great Chief Justiceship,” apparently agreed with Curtis.

Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes once wrote an essay for the ABA Journal entitled “Roger Brooke Taney: A Great Chief Justice.” Jackson wrote:

It is unfortunate that the estimate of Chief Justice Taney’s judicial labors should have been so largely influenced by the opinion which he delivered in the case of Dred Scott. . . . [T]he Dred Scott cased passed into history as an event pregnant with political consequences of the highest importance, and having a most serious effect upon the prestige of the Court. . . . Nothing could be more unjust than to estimate the judicial work of the days of Taney by a disproportionate emphasis upon the decisions which were called forth by the vexed questions growing out of the institution of slavery and the prospect of its extension. Rather I should like to take this opportunity to recognize the importance services of Chief Justice Taney in setting forth principles that are guiding stars in constitutional interpretation. . . .

Notwithstanding those comments and praise, Taney will forever be remembered for the Dred Scott decision. The assessment that “few Chief Justices have dominated the Court as completely as Taney. His tenure served to consolidate and refine Marshall’s Federalist jurisprudence rather than dismantle it in favor of states’ rights” cannot overcome Dred Scott and its aftermath.

Note: This meticulously researched 484-page book includes many hundreds of footnotes. With permission of the author, they have been dispensed with here because of formatting difficulties.

The book is available for purchase through Amazon. Interested readers can buy the book here.

A history of the Supreme Court

Introduction : "The very essence of judicial duty" -- The first Court, 1790-1801 -- Marshall Court, 1801-1836 -- Taney Court, 1837-1864 -- Watershed cases : Dred Scott v. Sandford, 1857 -- War and Reconstruction, 1861-1877 -- Chase and Waite Courts, 1864-1888 -- Fuller Court, 1888-1910 -- Watershed cases : Lochner v. New York, 1905 -- White and Taft Courts, 1910-1930 -- Hughes Court, 1930-1941 -- Stone and Vinson Courts, 1941-1953 -- Warren Court, 1953-1969 -- Watershed cases : Brown v. Board of Education, 1954 -- Burger Court, 1969-1986 -- Watershed cases : Roe v. Wade, 1973 -- Rehnquist Court, 1986-

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Chief Justice eras

The Jay Court (1789-1795)

John Jay was a defining justice, not only as the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, but also as a defender of national politics. ⎜] While on the court, Jay strengthened ties between England and the United States as the primary negotiator of the Jay Treaty. ⎝] Jay's tenure as Chief Justice paved the way for an established judiciary, from defining the jurisdiction of the federal courts to defining the authority of the Supreme Court.

For more on this era, see The Jay Court.

The Rutledge Court (1795)

With such a short tenure, Rutledge had little time to imprint his legacy on the history and courts of the United States. He was able to define jurisdiction over cases involving the high seas and United States citizenship, however. ⎞]

For more on this era, see The Rutledge Court.

The Ellsworth Court (1796-1800)

The Ellsworth Court was both brief and important. It helped to establish the rights of the president, states, laws and court system. Decisions during the Ellsworth Court created the definition of ex post facto laws and clarified rights of the president. By determining that the president did not have the power to amend the Constitution, the Ellsworth Court ensured a stronger system of checks and balances and highlighted the importance of Congress.

For more on this era, see The Ellsworth Court.

The Marshall Court (1801-1835)

The Marshall era saw the Supreme Court's supremacy as the highest court in the United States established. It affirmed that the Court had the power to review decisions made by the state courts. Furthermore, this era of the Supreme Court continued to clarify Congress' right to regulate interstate commerce and to establish a federal bank.

As Chief Justice, Marshall presided over some of the most storied and formative legal cases in American history. Among them were: Marbury v. Madison, McCulloch v. Maryland, Cohens v. Virginia, and Gibbons v. Ogden.

For more on this era, see The Marshall Court.

The Taney Court (1836-1864)

During Taney's tenure, the issue of slavery increased tensions across the nation, eventually leading to Civil War. Although Taney did not take a hard stance on the issue, he favored moderate states' rights. ⎟] Taney’s most historic cases stressed the notion of white supremacy, and for the most part, the power of states to regulate within their own territories. Taney strongly believed in his Dred Scott decision, writing to Franklin Pierce in 1857 that he believed with "abiding confidence that this act of my judicial life will stand the test of time and the sober judgment of the country." ⎟]

When Abraham Lincoln became president, he and Taney held different views on a number of issues of the day. Lincoln even went as far as disregarding a Taney decision that forbade the suspension of habeas corpus in Maryland during the Civil War. By the time of Taney's death in 1864, he was largely viewed as a villain and the Supreme Court felt the public's trust and respect declining. ⎟]

Overall, the Taney Court provided clarity when it came to states’ rights, defining their powers in relation to that of the federal government. Historically, the era of Taney as Chief Justice is most remembered for its rulings on inequality of the races.

For more on this era, see The Taney Court.

The Chase Court (1864-1873)

This era of the Chase Court clarified the Reconstruction of the United States after the Civil War and continued to establish the rights of the federal government and the president over the states. The Court's major cases involved whether or not Reconstruction was constitutional. Their decisions led to the piecing together of the broken United States.

During Chase's tenure, he was involved in the turbulent politics of Andrew Johnson's presidency. Johnson's policies towards the Reconstruction Era South were lenient, and the Republican majority of Congress was not happy. In response, they passed the Tenure of Office Act in March of 1867. This Act prohibited the president from removing officials from office that had been confirmed by the Senate, without permission of the Senate. Despite this, Johnson attempted to replace the Secretary of War, Edwin M. Stanton, with Ulysses S. Grant. The Supreme Court refused to rule on the case, but because of the protest, Grant returned the office to Stanton. Johnson was not satisfied, so he appointed General Lorenzo Thomas in place of Stanton. Three days later, Johnson was impeached by the House of Representatives.

President Johnson's impeachment trial began on March 13, 1867, in the Senate with the direction of Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase. On May 26, Johnson was acquitted of the charges. ⎠]

For more on this era, see The Chase Court.

The Waite Court (1874-1888)

In the post-Civil War United States, the Waite Court emphasized protections for corporations with the Fourteenth Amendment. Waite's restrictive tenure further decreased the rights of women and minorities in the United States, ultimately leaving a wake of prejudiced decisions that would take years to overcome.

For more on this era, see The Waite Court.

The Fuller Court (1888-1910)

Melville Fuller's Court often saw and decided cases based on the Fourteenth Amendment, defining its scope. Primarily, the Court was concerned with the Due Process and Equal Protection section of the Amendment. The two most notable cases of this era were Plessy v. Ferguson and Lochner v. New York. Both cases would go on to be overturned.

For more on this era, see The Fuller Court.

The White Court (1910-1921)

The White Court examined the Sherman Anti-Trust Act in a number of cases in order to more fairly distribute wealth among companies. This Court also made decisions that would make it easier for black Americans to vote, though the right had already been established after the Civil War. Furthermore, this era saw the establishment of an eight-hour workday for railroad workers.

For more on this era, see The White Court.

The Taft Court (1921-1930)

Taft's Court saw the continuation of a denial of protections for minorities. After women's suffrage, the Supreme Court subtly readjusted its approach to the class by shortening its protective reach, as seen in Adkins v. Children's Hospital. The decision Plessy v. Ferguson was upheld once again, relegating black Americans to second-class status, while the people of Puerto Rico were denied rights guaranteed by the Constitution.

For more on this era, see The Taft Court.

The Hughes Court (1930-1941)

Charles Hughes left a unique legacy, serving as the swing vote on the Court during the New Deal Era. The Chief Justice sometimes sided with the "Four Horsemen" of the Supreme Court, conservative justices strictly opposed to the New Deal policies of Roosevelt, but Hughes was progressive on issues of race. He was respected as a prolific justice who authored more than double the opinions of anyone else serving on the court. ⎡] ⎢] ⎣]

For more on this era, see The Hughes Court.

The Stone Court (1941-1946)

During Stone's tenure on the Court, he presided over the issues of World War II, creating new precedents for how to protect the United States and deal with enemies on United States soil. Though the Stone Court is remembered for constitutional questions decided, it was also marked by discord among the justices of the court. ⎤]

For more on this era, see The Stone Court.

The Vinson Court (1946-1953)

The era of the Frederick Vinson Court saw a change in the tides of racial segregation. With Vinson's sudden death, the most famous case of his tenure, Brown v. Board of Education, was not resolved until the Warren Court. Vinson's Court also went on to more carefully define acts of enemy aggression and the powers of the president.

For more on this era, see The Vinson Court.

The Warren Court (1953-1969)

The Warren Court saw a variety of notable cases. With this court, segregation was outlawed and public prayer began to decrease as a result of Engel v. Vitale. The court also established the rights of defendants and citizens.

For more on this era, see The Warren Court.

The Burger Court (1969-1986)

Burger's conservative philosophy did not significantly shift the composition of the Supreme Court. According to PBS, Burger's opinions "were often unpredictable and uninspiring," leading to an inability to construct a cohesive legacy. ⎥]

Several significant decisions were made during the Burger Court, however, including those leading to the resignation of President Nixon from the office of the presidency. Other notable cases include Roe v. Wade and Furman v. Georgia, both of which have been challenged and used as precedent in a myriad of cases.

For more on this era, see The Burger Court.

The Rehnquist Court (1986-2005)

Chief Justice Rehnquist was a conservative, and helped usher in the Court's "new right" majority. During the Rehnquist Era, the Court narrowed the reach of decisions of the Warren Court and the Burger Court. During his tenure as Chief Justice, Rehnquist also presided over President Bill Clinton's impeachment trial and Bush v. Gore. ⎦]

For more on this era, see The Rehnquist Court.

The Roberts Court (2005-present)

Chief Justice Roberts is considered a judicial conservative. Since joining the court, he often sided with Justice Scalia and continues to align with Justice Thomas and Alito, the two most conservative justices. Some argue Roberts is a judicial minimalist, approaching cases carefully with an eye to precedent, while judging narrowly so as to preserve the continuity of judicial opinion. During his Senate confirmation hearings, Chief Justice Roberts claimed his role was similar to that of an umpire. He said, "Judges and justices are servants of the law, not the other way around. Judges are like umpires. Umpires don't make the rules they apply them. The role of an umpire and a judge is critical. They make sure everybody plays by the rules. But it is a limited role. Nobody ever went to a ball game to see the umpire." ⎧] ⎨]

Kamala Harris Mangles History

Vice Presidential nominee Senator Kamala Harris (D.Ca.) stated in the Vice Presidential debate of October 7, 2020, that Abraham Lincoln did not appoint a Supreme Court nominee close to his re-election because such a nomination would have been unfair. She badly mangles the relevant history in making this claim.

Chief Justice Roger Taney died on October 12, 1864. At 87 he still holds the record of oldest serving Chief Justice. His tenure as Chief Justice at 28 years was the second longest, surpassed only by that of John Marshall.

Nominated as Chief Justice by his friend President Andrew Jackson, his tenure is considered by historians to be highly significant for the Court. Although he had authored many important decisions, he is remembered today only for one: Dred Scott. Taney, a slave owner, had mirrored the tragic trajectory of the views of the South in regard to slavery in his own life. As a young man he regarded slavery as a blot on our national character, as he said in his opening argument in defense of a Methodist minister accused in 1819 of inciting slave insurrections. He emancipated his own slaves. However, by the time he authored the Dred Scott decision in 1857 he would write:

It is difficult at this day to realize the state of public opinion in regard to that unfortunate race which prevailed in the civilized and enlightened portions of the world at the time of the Declaration of Independence, and when the Constitution of the United States was framed and adopted but the public history of every European nation displays it in a manner too plain to be mistaken. They had for more than a century before been regarded as beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations, and so far unfit that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.

Taney thought that the decision in Dred Scott would settle the slavery issue in regard to the territories and remove it from politics. Instead the decision inflamed public opinion North and South and manifestly helped bring on the Civil War. Taney lived to see his nation riven by Civil War and an administration in power dedicated to restoring the Union and abolishing slavery, and more than willing to ignore the paper edicts of Taney’s court when necessary. Old and sick, Taney remained on the bench, unwilling to have Lincoln name his successor, a living relic of a bygone era.

Taney had watched in bitter frustration as Lincoln appointed four justices to the Court. With Taney’s death, Lincoln had his fifth and final appointment.

Lincoln did not appoint a replacement because Congress was not in session. After Congress came back into session on December 5, 1864, Lincoln nominated Salmon P. Chase, his former Secretary of the Treasury to be the new Chief Justice on December 6. The Republican controlled Senate confirmed him the same day. (If we are looking to Lincoln for precedents as to Supreme Court nominations, perhaps the Senate should forego any hearings and simply confirm Amy Coney Barrett?)

The most striking contemporary mention of Roger Taney was by the late Justice Antonin Scalia in his dissent in Planned Parenthood v. Casey:

Remembering Pearl Harbor in Baltimore Harbor

12/07/2017By Preservation Maryland

Today, Americans remember those lost during the December 7, 1941 attacks on Pearl Harbor and Marylanders remember those lost aboard the USCGC Taney – the last floating warship that participated in the Battle that is now docked at Baltimore’s Inner Habor. Read on for more important history on this infamous day:

Albert Hayden. Photo courtesy of his family, via the Baltimore Sun.

The USS Arizona was the site of the majority of the total 2,335 casualties of soldiers, sailors and marines that died as a result of the Pearl Harbor attacks. Research shows that four Marylanders lost their lives during the destruction of the Arizona while others, like Albert Eugene Hayden, a native of Mechanicsville, Maryland was killed on land. Previously buried with the days casualities in Hawaii, Hayden was reinterred near his hometown in May 2016.


The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Roger B. Taney, named after Maryland Supreme Court Justice Roger B. Taney, was stationed at nearby Honolulu Harbor on December 7, 1941. After Japanese planes bombed and torpedoed American vessels, Taney immediately set out to search for Japanese submarines. Although it did not locate any, the ship received the American Defense Service Medal for the crew’s quick and courageous action.

Taney continued to defend American military operations in the South Pacific, including searching for survivors after the Battle of Midway. She defended against German submarine attacks off the coast of North Africa in 1944 and was a key vessel in the Battle of Okinawa a year later. After more than 50 years of service, Taney was decommissioned in 1986 and given to the City of Baltimore as a memorial and museum.

Driving of First Rivet,” 1935 in Philadelphia. Photo from U.S. Coast Guard. Unknown date. Photo from Historic Ships of Baltimore.
Taney in 1944. Photo from U.S. Coast Guard. Taney off northern California in May of 1965. Photo from U.S. Coast Guard.
Preservation Maryland

Preservation Maryland is Maryland’s first and largest organization dedicated to preserving the state’s historic buildings, neighborhoods, landscapes, and archaeological sites.

The History Of The Now-Removed Confederate Statues Of Baltimore

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore city crews took down all four Confederate monuments across the city overnight.

On Monday night, the Baltimore City Council passed a resolution calling for the immediate deconstruction of these monuments, days after a “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia that drew both white nationalists and counter-protesters turned violent.

Here’s more information about each of the now-removed monuments, all courtesy of Baltimore city records.

Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument, Mount Royal Avenue

When the United Daughters of the Confederacy, Baltimore Chapter No. 8 was officially recognized in 1898, it began a campaign to erect a monument to the Confederacy. After several years of fundraising and political consensus building, the club held an event unveiling the Soldiers and Sailors monument on May 2, 1903.

It was sculpted by a French-born sculptor who was based in New York, F. Wellington Ruckstuhl, and depicts a winged figure descending from the heavens and grabbing a dying Confederate soldier, clutching him tightly as she prepares to ascend back into the heavens. The soldier clutches his heart with his left hand and in his right tightly hangs onto to the Confederate Battle Flag.

Confederate Women&rsquos Monument, West University Parkway

The Baltimore chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy was also instrumental in the erection of the Confederate Women&rsquos Monument, which was dedicated in 1917. It was funded by the United Confederate Veterans, the UDC, and the State of Maryland.

Its erection was part of a larger movement spearheaded by Confederate veterans beginning in 1906 to place a monument to honor the sacrifices of Confederate women in the capital of each of the thirteen Southern states. The original plan was for the states to erect a replica of the Confederate Women&rsquos Monument located in Richmond, Virginia. However, by 1910 the Maryland Chapter of the Daughters of the Confederacy decided to create their own design.

After raising funds for several years, they requested additional funding from the State. In 1914, the Maryland General Assembly passed a bill that donated $12,000 for the monument.

The sculpture was created by J. Maxwell Miller, a Baltimorean, who taught at the Maryland Institute College of Art, and eventually became the director of the Rinehart School. It depicts depicts a woman standing tall and looking out into the horizon. In front of her, a kneeling woman cradles within her arms a dying Confederate soldier who holds tightly onto a tattered Confederate Battle Flag.

Roger B. Taney Monument, Mount Vernon Place

The Roger Brooke Taney Monument is not explicitly a Confederate monument. But Taney, a Supreme Court justice, was most famous for his decision in the Dred Scott case, which deemed black Americans were not to be considered citizens of the U.S.

This sculpture is an 1887 copy of an 1872 original that was made by William Henry Rinehart. The original sculpture was commissionedby William T. Walters for the Maryland State House in Annapolis, where it is still located today (although Governor Larry Hogan announced this week that he wants to see it removed). Fifteen years later, Walters had this copy made and gifted it to the City of Baltimore.

Robert E. Lee and Thomas. J. &ldquoStonewall&rdquo Jackson Monument, Wyman Park Dell

The funding for the sculpture was provided by J. Henry Ferguson, a banker who left in his will specific instructions for a monument to his childhood heroes, Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson.

The monument depicts the two men on their horses right before departing for the Battle of Chancellorsville. While Jackson was fatally wounded in the battle, the Confederate army ultimately won, and the battle was later considered to be Lee&rsquos greatest victory.

Although Ferguson died in 1928, the sculpture was not dedicated until 1948 due to numerous factors, including World War II.

The sculpture was made by Laura Gardin Fraser, who won the design competition for the commission in 1935. She commissioned the architect John Russell Pope (who designed the Baltimore Museum of Art ) to design the base of the monument. The sculpture was cast in 1946 and the monument was dedicated on May 1, 1948, the 85th anniversary of the eve of the Battle of Chancellorsville.

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Watch the video: Top 10 Enigmas of the Ancient World.. Documentary (July 2022).


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