Vanderbilt Law Review

First Page



Roger Brooke Taney's judicial career began and ended in controversy.' His appointment as Chief Justice in 1836 came not long after his nomination to be Secretary of the Treasury had been rejected and his nomination to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court had been indefinitely postponed because of his role as a central figure in the great controversy between the Jackson administration and the Bank of the United States. These successive nominations of Taney to high position evoked a flood of partisan invective against him in an age which was hardly characterized by restraint. In the course of time, however, Taney was able to win for himself a strong position in the esteem of his fellow citizens, but he lost this position as a result of his opinion in the unfortunate Dred Scott case. After this decision he was denounced with every opprobrious epithet which malignant righteousness could contrive. The fluctuations in Taney's public reputation continued even after his death, but a century after the decision of the Dred Scott case his position in American constitutional history was secure.