Tuesday, July 24, 2007


"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 enlightend 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."--from Roger B. Taney's ruling in the Dred Scott decision)

What you have just read is an excerpt from Robert B. Taney's ruling in the Dred Scott decision. Robert B. Taney was was the twelfth Attorney General and the fifth Chief Justice of the United States., and the author of the Dred Scott Decision. Interestingly enough, he died on the same day that Maryland, his home state, abolished slavery.

There is a bust of Taney in the Supreme Court. This bust meant with strong oppostion when it was commissioned after the installation of a life -size figure of Taney at the Maryland State House in Annapolis in 1872.

A heated debate erupted in the Senate Chamber when Senator Lyman Trumbull of Illinois introduced a bill providing for a bust of Taney for the Supreme Court room. In response, Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts exclaimed: “I object to that; that now an emancipated country should make a bust to the author of the Dred Scott decision.” While Trumbull eulogized the late chief justice, noting that even if Taney had made a wrong decision he was still a great and learned man, Sumner retorted: “Let me tell that Senator that the name of Taney is to be hooted down the page of history. Judgement is beginning now; and an emancipated country will fasten upon him the stigma which he deserves.” [1] Following the debate further action on the bill was indefinitely postponed.

Therefore, it was not until January 29, 1874, that a congressional resolution authorized the Joint Committee on the Library to procure a bust of Taney and one of Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase. (via Senate website)

People are urging officials to remove the statue of Taney at the Maryland State House and a statue of him located in Frederick, Maryland.

And how does Fig Newtons and Scotch feel about this? Well, my knee-jerk reaction is yes, remove these statues, but then I started thinking, if we removed all of the statues of racist people around the country ......You see where I am going with this. Apparently there are quite a few statues of Taney around-are they all going to be removed?

Here is a link to the Washington Post article that caused me to read way too much about Taney. I don't know how I actually feel about the last paragraph of the article. If you visit the Maryland State House, you have Taney by the front entrance, and Thurgood Marshall at the back entrance. Is that suppose to make us black folks feel better?

"In recognizing the humanity of our fellow beings, we pay ourselves the highest tribute. " Thurgood Marshall (1908 - 1993)

No comments: