Taney, Roger

Taney, Roger (Brooke)

(1777–1864) Supreme Court chief justice; born in Calvert County, Md. A member of a prosperous landowning family, he practiced law and then became active in Maryland politics, serving in the state senate (1816–21) and as state attorney general (1827–31). His opposition to the Bank of the United States gained him the favor of President Andrew Jackson, who named him U.S. attorney general (1831–33) and secretary of the treasury (1833); however, the Senate refused to confirm him for the latter post or for his first nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court (1835). Upon Chief Justice John Marshall's death (1836), Jackson renominated Taney to replace him and the Senate confirmed him (1836–64). His tenure was marked by decisions on foreign relations matters as well as on issues regarding relations between federal and state courts. The opinion for which he is best known is in the case of Dred Scott v. Sandford, in which he not only declared that an African-American could not be a citizen but also that Congress had no authority to ban slavery from the territories. This made him a target for the new Republican Party and during the Civil War his decisions against several Federal war measures made him further suspect.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.