Roger B. Taney

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Roger Brooke Taney (pronounced /ˈtɔːni/ TAW-nee; March 17, 1777 – October 12, 1864) was the fifth Chief Justice of the United States, holding that office from 1836 until his death in 1864, and was the first Roman Catholic to hold that office or sit on the Supreme Court of the United States. He was also the eleventh United States Attorney General. He is most remembered for delivering the majority opinion in Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857), that ruled, among other things, that African Americans, being considered "of an inferior order and altogether unfit to associate with the white race" at the time the Constitution was drafted, could not be considered citizens of the United States.

Described by his and President Andrew Jackson's critics as "[a] supple, cringing tool of Jacksonian power,"[3] Taney was a believer in states' rights but also the Union; a slaveholder who regretted the institution and manumitted his slaves.[4] From Prince Frederick, Maryland, he had practiced law and politics simultaneously and succeeded in both. After abandoning Federalism as a losing cause, he rose to the top of the state's Jacksonian machine. As U.S. Attorney General (1831–1833) and then Secretary of the Treasury (1833–1834), he became one of Andrew Jackson's closest advisers.

". . . He brought to the Chief Justiceship a high intelligence and legal acumen, kindness and humility, patriotism, and a determination to be a great Chief Justice that enabled him to mold the modest raw material of the Court into an effective and prestigious institution."[5]

Taney died during the final months of the American Civil War on the same day that his home state of Maryland abolished slavery.

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