Position: Chief Justice
Roger Brooke Taney was born on March 17, 1777. He was raised in Calvert County, Maryland. He died on October 12, 1864.
He was educated privately and attended Dickinson College where he graduated first in his class.
He apprenticed with an Annapolis lawyer for three years and was admitted to the bar. Taney returned to private law practice in 1821, after serving a term in the Maryland Senate. He remained active in politics, but joined with the Jacksonian Democrats when the Federalist Party expired.
Taney was a representative in the Maryland House of Delegates for one term; he served as a Federalist. He backed the War of 1812 and split with his party over the issue. He led Jackson's presidential campaign in Maryland. Jackson later selected Taney as his attorney general.
In 1835, Jackson nominated Taney to replace Gabriel Duvall as associate justice. The Senate postponed the confirmation vote indefinitely. Less than a year later, Jackson sent up Taney's name to replace John Marshall as chief justice. He was commissioned on March 15, 1836 and he was sworn in on March 28, 1836. Taney sat on the Court until his death in 1864.
He made significant contributions to American constitutional law, but the case most closely associated with Taney inflicted enormous injury to the Court as an institution. The case was Dred Scott v. Sandford. It was decided in 1855, the same year that Taney's wife and youngest daughter died of yellow fever.