WHEREAS, Roger Brooke Taney (March 17, 1777 – October 12, 1864) was born in Calvert County, Maryland and practiced law in The City of Frederick from 1801 to 1823; and
WHEREAS, Taney served as a member of the Maryland State Legislature, as Attorney General of Maryland and of the United States, and as the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury; and
WHEREAS, in 1832, as U.S. Attorney General, Taney opined that the “…African race in the United States, even when free, are everywhere a degraded class, and exercise no political influence. The privileges they are allowed to enjoy, are accorded to them as a matter of kindness and benevolence rather than right”; and
WHEREAS, in 1836 Taney was appointed as the fifth Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court; and
WHEREAS, in 1857, Chief Justice Taney authored the opinion of the Supreme Court in the case of Dred Scott v. Sanford, holding that African Americans were not United States citizens and had no right to sue, and that they “…had no rights which any white man is bound to respect”, and
WHEREAS, the Dred Scott decision as written by Justice Taney represented a defense of the pro-slavery position that existed in pre-Civil War United States; and also declared unconstitutional the provisions of the Missouri Compromise Act prohibiting the holding and ownership of slaves in certain territories of the United States;
WHEREAS, in 1864, the third building that was to house the Frederick County Courthouse located at 101 N. Court Street was completed and occupied by the courts; and
WHEREAS, in 1931, Frederick resident Joseph W. Urner, sculptor of the bust of Governor Thomas Johnson (1926) located in front of City Hall, and architect of the C. Burr Artz Library (1936) on Record Street, was commissioned to create a bust of Taney, which was subsequently cast at the foundry of the J. Arthur Limerick Company of Baltimore and installed in front of the Courthouse; and
WHEREAS, in 1981, the Frederick County courts vacated the building at 101 N. Court Street and relocated to 100 W. Patrick Street in downtown Frederick, and
WHEREAS, in 1986, The City of Frederick then acquired the property for renovation and adaptive reuse as City Hall; the Taney and Johnson busts, as well as the fountain were conveyed with the property; and
WHEREAS, in 2009, following appeals for the removal of the Taney bust, The City of Frederick collaborated with community members to create a supplemental plaque which provided historical context to inform and educate viewers about the Dred Scott decision, and this plaque was subsequently installed next to the bust; and
WHEREAS, City Hall is the seat of our City’s government, located in the heart of historic downtown Frederick; a public building that is visited by people from all over the State, nation, and the world; and
WHEREAS, the City Hall courtyard and grounds comprise a public park called City Hall Park, which is available and open for public gatherings and recreational activities; and
WHEREAS, The City of Frederick supports and values diversity, opportunity, and equality for all; and
WHEREAS, The City of Frederick is a vibrant hub of arts, culture, commerce, and government, and is a city rich in history, culture, and heritage; and
WHEREAS, the Mayor and Board of Aldermen strive to remain sensitive to all aspects of the City’s history and are committed to preserving it to the greatest extent possible; and
WHEREAS, the bust is a significant piece of public art created by a Frederick resident, holds local significance as a result of that relationship, and should be preserved as an integral part of our cultural history; and
WHEREAS, Roger Brook Taney was a prominent jurist in the history of our nation and his bust was placed when the building was being used as the Courthouse; and
WHEREAS, Frederick’s City Hall is no longer a place of judgement as a court but is the seat of a municipal government that must support ALL human rights.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE BOARD OF ALDERMEN OF THE CITY OF FREDERICK that the bust of Roger Brooke Taney would be more suitably located in a museum, gallery, educational institution, or other venue that gives the viewer the opportunity to appreciate the sculpture and its subject as a matter of choice, not by virtue of its presence on public lands; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the 2009 Dred Scott Decision plaque, created as a companion piece to the bust, would also be more suitably located at such a venue; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Roger Brooke Taney bust and the 2009 Dred Scott Decision plaque be removed from City Hall Park.
ADOPTED AND APPROVED THIS _______ DAY OF ____________________, 2015.