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Causes of the Civil War

Causes of the Civil War

Roger B. Taney in Causes of the Civil War

Chief Justice Roger B. Taney (1777-1864) was the fifth Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. In 1835, President Andrew Jackson nominated Taney, a fellow Democrat, to fill the position that had been vacated by the death of Chief Justice John Marshall.

In March 1857, Chief Justice Taney delivered the majority opinion of the Supreme Court in Dred Scott v. John Sandford. In one of the most infamous rulings ever handed down by the Court, Taney struck down the portion of the Missouri Compromise that prohibited slavery in federal territories and argued that the Constitution not only protected slavery, but also excluded blacks from citizenship. People of African ancestry, he declared, "are not included, and were not intended to be included, under the word 'citizens' in the Constitution." Therefore, "they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect." Scott had no right to sue in federal court and had never been free.4

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