Recently, the governor of Maryland ordered, under cover of darkness, the removal of the monument of Supreme Court Justice Roger B. Taney from the Maryland State House grounds (“Roger Taney statue removed from Maryland State House grounds overnight,” Aug. 18). Readers may recall that Justice Taney was the fifth chief justice of the Supreme Court, holding that office from 1836 until his death in 1864. Under his leadership in 1857, the Supreme Court ruled in the Dred Scott decision that African-Americans, having been considered inferior at the time the United States Constitution was drafted, were not part of the original community of citizens and, whether free or slave, could not be considered citizens of the United States. Obviously, that was a horrific decision for our entire country.
However, most readers probably don't recall that from 1833-34 Taney previously served our country as the 12th secretary of the treasury under President Andrew Jackson.
Fast forward to October 24, 1936, when the Coast Guard (serving within the Department of the Treasury) commissioned the Coast Guard Cutter Taney in Philadelphia. Years later, she was moored in Honolulu Harbor (not Pearl) on December 7th, 1941 when the Japanese attacked. CGC Taney served our country with distinction, and over her distinguished career, Taney received three battle stars and numerous service ribbons for service in World War II, the Korean War, and Vietnam War. Coast Guard Cutter Taney was formally decommissioned on Dec. 7, 1986, and immediately turned over to the city of Baltimore for use as a museum ship.
In 1988, the USCGC Taney, was added to the National Register of Historic Places. She was designated a National Historic Landmark on the same day. Today the USCGC Taney is located in the historic Baltimore Inner Harbor as part of the Historic Ships in Baltimore collection.
I wonder — just wonder — if the governor of Maryland will bow further to the whim of some to remove more historical monuments and landmarks — like his trying to erase the name of Taney from the history books. Perhaps next, the Coast Guard Cutter Taney will be ordered removed from the Inner Harbor and sent to the bottom.
I hope not!
David W. Kunkel, Allentown, Pa.
The writer is a retired rear admiral in the U.S. Coast Guard.
Send letters to the editor to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name and contact information.