Frederick’s Taney bust in the New York Times

Frederick’s Taney bust in the New York Times

Excerpt from the New York Times:

FREDERICK, Md. — In 1801, Roger Brooke Taney, the politically minded son of a Maryland tobacco planter, settled here to practice law. He married the sister of Francis Scott Key, won election to the State Senate and worked his way to Washington, where he landed a dream job: Chief Justice of theSupreme Court.

Taney (pronounced TAW-knee) is buried in a graveyard here; the house he owned is now a museum; and for 85 years, his bronze bust, with stern eyes and aquiline nose, has gazed out on the courtyard of what is now City Hall. For about 40 of those years, the sight of that bust has made Willie Mahone, a local lawyer, want to retch.

As an African-American who attended segregated Alabama schools, Mr. Mahone, 62, is well aware of how Taney earned an enduring, if dubious, place in American history: He wrote the notorious 1857 Dred Scott ruling denying citizenship to blacks, noting that the Constitution’s framers considered them “beings of an inferior order.”

In October 2015, after years of prodding by Mr. Mahone and other critics of Taney, the all-white board of aldermen agreed that the bust’s time had come and gone. Its members voted unanimously — amid accusations that they were whitewashing history and ignoring the complexities of an otherwise respected jurist’s life and career — to remove the statue, with the idea of displaying it somewhere else, maybe in a museum.

And that is where the trouble began.

Today, the bust’s future is caught up in a maze of bureaucracy, amid questions of whether moving it would violate a state easement or city preservation rules. But even if the bust can go, Frederick faces a bigger problem: In the heat of the debate last year, vandals dumped a bucket of red enamel paint on Taney’s bronze head.

Now, nobody wants it.

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By | 2016-12-16T10:52:51+00:00 September 4th, 2016|Design Review & Guidelines, Frederick City, Legal Issues|Comments Off on Frederick’s Taney bust in the New York Times