ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ/AP) — A statue of the U.S. Supreme Court justice who wrote the 1857 Dred Scott decision that upheld slavery and denied citizenship to African Americans was removed from the grounds of the Maryland State House early Friday morning.

The statue of Roger B. Taney was lifted away by a crane at about 2 a.m. It was lowered into a truck and driven away to storage. The bronze statue was erected in 1872, just outside the original front door of the State House.

“I said, yup, it’ll come down overnight, and I was right,” said Meg Kimble of the Annapolis Pottery. “I liked the bookend effect, that we had Taney on one side of the Statehouse and Thurgood Marshall on the other. Unfortunately, with the current events in Charlottesville, it was time for it to come down.”

It’s been Kimble’s view from the Annapolis Pottery for years.

Three of the four voting members of the State House Trust voted by email Wednesday to move the statue.

House Speaker Michael Busch, a Democrat who was one of the three who voted to remove it, wrote this week that the statue “doesn’t belong” on the grounds.

His comments came after the violent protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend, when violent clashes broke out between white nationalists and counter-protesters. A woman was killed when a car plowed into a crowd of people who were there to condemn the white nationalists, who held a rally prompted by Charlottesville officials’ decision to remove a monument to Robert E. Lee.

Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, said this week that removing the statue of Taney in Maryland was “the right thing to do.” Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford voted on behalf of the administration to remove the statue.

One member of the trust, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, criticized holding the vote without a public meeting.

“This was certainly a matter of such consequence that the transparency of a public meeting and public conversation should have occurred,” Miller, a Democrat, wrote in a letter Thursday to Hogan.

While the statue’s removal was not publicized, a couple dozen onlookers watched as workers started the removal process shortly after midnight. Some who watched cheered as the statue was lifted from its pedestal.

One of them spoke with WJZ’s Alex DeMetrick.

“People like to say that these sort of things are about history and not hate,” said Jameson Marshall, of Fairfax, Virginia. “But you don’t put a monument up… a monument isn’t a history book, it’s meant to honor someone. And when the thing that’s being honored is someone who was for slavery, I don’t see how you can stand by that.”

The statue was removed a couple of days after Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh ordered the removal of four Confederate monuments from the city under the cover of night. A statue of Taney in Baltimore also was removed.

Taney was born in Maryland and practiced law in Frederick, Maryland, before becoming the nation’s fifth chief justice. Dred Scott and his wife Harriet were slaves who sued for their freedom after they were taken from the slave state of Missouri into territory where slavery had been prohibited by the Missouri Compromise.

“The fact that they kind of covered it is like it was never here. I think the taking down of it is as important as the putting up of it,” said Sara Delvillano of Annapolis.

This year marked the 160th anniversary of the 1857 decision. In March, a family member of Taney’s apologized to the family of Scott’s in front of the statue that was removed Friday. Charles Taney IV of Greenwich, Connecticut apologized on behalf of his family to the Scott family and to all African Americans for the “terrible injustice of the Dred Scott decision.” Lynne Jackson, the great-great-granddaughter of Dred Scott, accepted the apology for her family and “all African Americans who have the love of God in their heart so that healing can begin.”

State officials said the removal cost was an estimated $80,000.

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Comments (31)
  1. Why are all these people able to decide what is offending and have it removed? What if I find a statue of FDR offending for multiple reasons. Can I have that removed too? They are defacing Lincoln and talking about removing Washington and Jeffereson now. Either free speech works for all, or it works for none. If we are removing these because some can’t see them as a historical reminder and are offended, then I say take down ALL statues of people including those you like, because I guarantee you, someone doesn’t.

    1. Larry Smith says:

      Exactly my thought…NO fdr or lbj or Obama

      1. Fritz Dahmus says:

        Funny you mention FDR. His works programs during the depression….paid less money to Blacks that Whites. The definition of a racist!

        Look out White male America…..payback is upon us. But, funny….all I did was chase chickens and cows in the middle of nowhere (North Dakota, to be exact). Doesn’t matter guilt be skin color.

    2. Steve Gobble says:

      You’re right Bob, these spineless Democrats are always making bad choices without asking the public. We the people weren’t ask a thing but guess who’s paying for it. It’s time get get rid of ALL these spineless corrupt liberal Democrats out of this state. Try an Independant or a Republican for a change. The Democrats in this state hasn’t done a damn thing for anybody, why do you people keep voting in failures? They always promise but never deliver so why do we keep causing self injury by voting these Democrats in? As an independent I would love to see change for the better in our state, It’s always up to the voter. Keep it as it is or vote for change.

  2. greatgosh says:

    Most surly behavior is performed “overnight” under the cloak of darkness and in secrecy.

  3. This is insane. Have you people never read “1984”? Running all of US History heretofore through your 2017 PC-filter is absurd. The man was a Justice of the Supreme Court. You tear down his statue because you dislike a ruling he made 160 years ago?

    Abraham Lincoln once said
    ” I have no purpose to introduce political and social equality between the white and black races. There is physical difference between the two which, in my judgment, will probably forever forbid their living together upon the footing of perfect equality, and inasmuch as it becomes a necessity that there must be a difference, I, as well as Judge Douglas, am in favor of the race to which I belong having the superior position.”

    Should we destroy the Lincoln Memorial? Saddest part is a good many of you would say yes.

    Thank God Trump won the white house… now we just need one of our octogenarian SCOTUS members to step down and we’re safe for a generation… You leftists have truly gone insane.

  4. I noticed the article left out the following. From Wickipedia “Taney, a Jacksonian Democrat, was made Chief Justice by Jackson” Democrat appointed by a Democrat Where is the media endlessly asking Democrats if they Disavow or condemn? . Yo NYT: didn’t think so.

  5. John Fogarty says:

    The People’s Republik of Maryland strikes again led by the fake, rino republican Hogan.

  6. Harry Buskin says:

    Pathetic. Justice Tanney made a decision based on law as it existed at the time, whether you approve or not on the basis of morality. The issue went all the way back to how slaves (NOT BLACKS) were to be treated in the new United States, and the point of contention was whether slaves were legally persons, or property. The Northern States held that slaves were property, but the Southern states wanted them counted as persons when the census counts were made for apportionment of Representatives. The creation of the Union was doomed to failure if the Southern states refused to ratify, so the North agreed to count each slave, but as 3/5 of a fully legal person. There was no debate about whether slaves were human, because that was self-evident.

    The Dred Scott case was brought by Scott himself, arguing that when his master took him from their home (slave) state to a non-slave state, he was automatically freed and emancipated by that action. This was based on the principle that each state had to give credence to the laws of each other state. Thus, if a slave was taken from Mississippi to, for example, Missouri, the latter state would recognize that said slave was still a slave IN MISSISSIPPI, but Mississippi had to recognize that the same slave was FREE IN MISSOURI.

    This core issue was avoided by the Court as if it was the 3rd rail of the union subway, because it would have destroyed the union. The court decided, and Tanney wrote the majority opinion, that the suit could not be heard and therefore no judgement granted, because Scott, being a slave had no standing to bring the suit in the first place. The irony was that Scott had to be free to bring the suit, but had to win the suit to become free – a circular impossibility.

    The bottom line was that the Court never judged the base issue, so the matter of transporting slaves to free states was never addressed. It would take an Act of Congress to resolve that question, which they did in 1865. Tanney and the Court refused to legislate to Congress, which was both proper and ethical.

    1. Gary Bohr says:

      The Dred Scott decision did much more than that. Taney, having his own agenda, decided the facts in Dred Scott were not convenient to his intentions so he and his colleagues changed the law. The Constitution expressly prohibited (and still does) slavery in the federal territories. Dred Scott’s master, being a doctor in the US Army was moved from base to base where doctors were needed. The crux of Dred Scott’s suit was that while Scott was a slave in Missouri he ceased to become one once he entered the federal territories. This made him a free man. Taney’s opinion conceded the facts (Dred Scott entered federal territories). Taney’s opinion conceded the Constitution gave Congress the power to govern the federal territories. However, Congress could not forbid slavery in the territories because they would be depriving slave owners of their property without just compensation. Because of this, the Missouri Compromise (territories north of the southern border of Missouri forbade slavery and territories south of the southern border permitted it—in addition, states were admitted two at a time, north and south, to ensure equal representation in the Senate) was ruled null and void.

  7. Marsha Moore says:

    Now that Democrats are removing their Civil War hero’s, will they return all the money the old Nazi Soros has given them. HRC biggest recipient! Confiscated Belongings of Jews sent to Death camps. End the HATE! DISBAND the DEMOCRAT Party!

    1. Paul Roberts says:

      Not much different than what ISIS is doing in the middle east destroying historical Christian artifacts and from other cultures because they do not agree with it.

  8. this is just the start. If any leftist group feels that you have hurt their feelings, your statue – and you – will be removed from society.

  9. Paul Roberts says:

    So now I suppose they are going to erect a Black Lives Matter statue?

  10. John Scheetz says:

    Isn’t the Coast Guard Cutter that is a museum in Baltimore Harbor is named the USCG Taney?

  11. ‘Who controls the past controls the future. …’ – “1984” ~ George Orwell

  12. jb80538 says:

    I find liberals offensive. Can we have them removed?

  13. Such ignorance. Roger B. Taney was an exemplary chief justice who was involved in many seminal court decisions in addition to Dred Scott. Please note as well that his monument was erected in 1872, shortly following the Civil War, and not during the later Jim Crow era when most Civil War statuary was erected. It was also placed in Maryland, Taney’s home state, which did not join the Confederacy. This is a travesty born of ignorance and hate for America’s proud and contentious history.

  14. Gary Bohr says:

    Roger Taney is the author of what is widely considered to be the worst Supreme Court decision in history (despite lots of competition—Slaughterhouse Cases, Wickard v Filburn, Korematsu, Roe v Wade, Obamacare, etc.). Despite this his likeness should have remained where it was as a warning to future generations about the effects of arrogance, judicial activism, and legislating from the bench. Taney’s narcissism led him to believe he could write a decision in Dred Scott that was so well-reasoned, so all-encompassing, and so inherently just that the question of slavery could and would never be raised again. What he ended up doing was changing acts of Congress, citing false “facts”, reading out the parts of the Constitution that did not agree with his conclusion, ignoring precedents that conflicted with his opinion, and pushing this nation closer to a civil war. The arrogance exhibited in the travesty known as Dred Scott v Sanford is on display daily in state and federal courts across the nation.

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