Maryland state officials ordered the removal of a statue of controversial pro-slavery U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert B. Taney on Friday, Aug. 18 following the unrest in Charlottesville.
The statue was removed from the Maryland State House grounds around 2 a.m. Friday. According to the Associated Press, three of the four voting members of the State House Trust voted via email Wednesday to have the statue taken down.
It was removed because Taney was a prominent figure in 19th century American politics who embodied the principles of white supremacy. He advocated for slavery, thought black people were inherently inferior to the white race and was the Chief Justice presiding over the 1857 Dred Scott decision.
Dred and Harriet Scott were enslaved black people who sued for their freedom when they were brought to Missouri. After the Missouri Compromise was enacted in 1820, slavery was allowed in the state and but the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 nullified the Missouri Compromise.
"While we cannot hide from our history – nor should we – the time has come to make clear the difference between properly acknowledging our past and glorifying the darkest chapters of our history," Maryland Governor Larry Hogan said in a statement on Wednesday.
Legal scholars universally agreed that Taney's "The negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit" ruling in the Dred Scott decision was one of the worst moments of the court.
Both Republicans and Democrats agree that the statue should be taken down.
"This was certainly a matter of such consequence that the transparency of a public meeting and public conversation should have occurred," Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, a Democrat, wrote in a letter Thursday to Gov. Larry Hogan.