Roger Brooke Taney—born on 17 March 1777 in Cal-vert County, Md.—graduated from Dickinson College in 1795 and soon began law studies at Annapolis, Md. Admitted to the Maryland bar in 1799, he entered politics as a Federalist in the same year and won a term in the Maryland legislature. During the War of 1812, he was among the dissenting Federalists who supported President Madison's foreign policy; and, after peace
returned, he won a dominant position in Federalist circles within Maryland.
In 1823, Taney moved to Baltimore where he established a highly successful law practice and enhanced his reputation as an eminent attorney. After the demise of the Federalist Party, he chaired the committee supporting General Andrew Jackson's presidential candidacy and, during a reorganization of the cabinet in 1831, Taney was appointed United States Attorney General.
In this capacity, Taney became President Jackson's principal advisor in the attack on the United States Bank. In September 1833, Jackson gave Taney a recess appointment as Secretary of the Treasury for the special purpose of establishing depositories in state banks into which Federal funds could be transferred. After Congress reconvened, the Senate refused to approve the nomination; and Taney resumed private practice.
On 28 December 1835, President Jackson picked Taney to succeed John Marshall as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court; and, despite Whig opposition, the appointment was confirmed on IB March 1836.
During his time on the bench, Taney gave opinions in many cases in which he generally upheld states rights and narrowly construed the Constitution's grant of powers to the Federal Government. In the Dred Scott decision in 1857—his most famous—Taney held that Congress had no power to abolish slavery in the territories acquired after the formation of the Federal Government. He held that slavery was a necessary evil as long as negroes remained in the United States, and he further maintained that negroes did not hold citizenship and therefore could not sue in a Federal court.
Throughout the Civil War, Taney continued to resist any infringement of state's rights and believed the Federal Government had erred in pursuing war to bring seceding states back into the Union. Justice Taney died in Washington, D.C., on 12 October 1864.
(RC: t. 112; Ibp.73'4"; b. 20'6"; dph. 9'4"; a. 6 12-pdrs.)
Taney—sometimes referred to as Roger B. Taney— was a wooden-hulled, schooner-rigged revenue cutter completed in late 1833 or early 1834 at New York City by Webb and Allen. In January 1834, she embarked on a special cruise off the east and gulf coasts, from Maine to Texas. Relieving revenue cutter Jefferson on station at Norfolk, Va., in November of 1834, Taney later extended her cruising grounds to Baltimore, Md., in October 1837. She sailed to New York for repairs in the summer of 1843.
Taney maintained this schedule of regular cruises with the Revenue Cutter Service until the onset of hostilities with Mexico when she was placed under Navy orders. Although the latter country possessed meager resources for outfitting privateers, commercial interests in the United States feared that she might issue a few letters-of-marque permitting privately-owned armed ships to prey upon American shipping.
Although the Spanish government cooperated in suppressing the few attempts that had been made to outfit privateers in Spanish ports, the United States dispatched Taney—with sloop-of-war Marion and steamer Princeton—to the Mediterranean station to prevent the appearance of Mexican privateers there. Taney arrived at Gibraltar on 29 August 1847 and remained there until she returned to the United States on 22 August 1849.
The revenue cutter departed New York at the end of October 1849 and conducted soundings in the Atlantic before being transferred to the United States Coast Survey in August of 1850. The following year, turmoil raged on the island of Cuba. The United States sought to steer a neutral course by prohibiting "filibustering" from her shores. Taney sailed southward for Florida waters to seek out a suspected lair of filibusters up the St. Ilia River. She found nothing suspicious, however, and her commanding officer, Capt. T. C. Rudolph, subsequently reported that apparently the expedition had been cancelled.
Taney returned to New York harbor in the summer of 1852, where she capsized on 3 August. Eventually righted and repaired at the New York Navy Yard, Taney operated out of Eastport, Maine, from January 1853 until October 1855, when she shifted south to cruise out of Savannah, Ga. After being repaired at Norfolk in August 1857, she returned to her station at Savannah. While operating from that base, she was struck by lightning off Tybee Island, Ga., and severely damaged on 30 August 1857.
Taney was subsequently sold on 5 January 1858.