For decades, the Taney Court's pro-slavery decision in the Dred Scott case tarnished its reputation among historians. It was only during the first half of the 20th century that the court received due credit for its important accomplishments in commerce, contracts, the protection of civil liberties, and defining the scope of presidential power.
An exploration of the U.S. Supreme Court during an era of dramatic sectionalism, slavery, and the Civil War.
The Taney Court: Justices, Rulings, and Legacy presents an in-depth analysis of the decisions and impact of the U.S. Supreme Court during the three-decade tenure of Roger B. Taney, one of the most important chief justices in U.S. history. A careful analysis of landmark decisions such as Dred Scott v. Sandford, Charles River Bridge v. Warren Bridge, and Prigg v. Pennsylvania shows how the court interpreted issues of commerce, contracts, slavery, and separation of powers, and how, despite its perception as being pro-states rights, it actually expanded federal judicial power.
Profiles of the 20 justices who served on the Taney Court place a special emphasis on those who made the most significant impact, including Taney, Joseph Story, Benjamin Curtis, and John A. Campbell.
• Includes a survey of the historical period that describes the major political, social, and economic developments of the middle decades of the 19th century such as the fierce competition between the Democratic and Whig parties, the rapid economic growth of the nation, and the Civil War
• Offers an examination of the decisions reached in the Court's most important cases on the interpretation of the clauses of the Constitution relating to commerce, contract, and slavery
• Compares the judicial records of the nation's two great 19th century chief justices, John Marshall and Roger B. Taney
• Reveals that despite Taney's decision in the Dred Scott case, he earned an anti-slavery reputation for defending an antislavery minister early in his career
• Explores the shift from a Democratic, pro-Southern Court under President Andrew Jackson to an increasingly Republican one after Lincoln's election and judicial appointments