ROGER B. TANEY
Very fine content A.D. (unsigned) 2pp. 8vo., [Baltimore], Mar. 19, 1805, a deposition concerning the case of "Negro Jim v. William Curran", one of Taney's earliest cases. Early in his legal career, the author of Dred Scott took on several cases on behalf of slaves and even an abolitionist. The present case, one of his earliest, concerned a Petition for Freedom filed by "Negro Jim" against William Curren. Curren had contended that Jim had runaway in 1784 from his previous master, a Mr. Patterson of Maryland and attempted to assume an identity as a free African American at the household of Robert Fleming in Pennsylvania. Mr. Curren maintained that Jim was never free and should not be granted his freedom because he had no right as a slave to do so under Pennsylvanian law. The present deposition swears to the competency of a witness for Jim, the petitioner and reads in full: "James McMakin being duly sworn deponeth and saith that he verily believes that John Scott of the City of Baltimore is a material and Competent witness for the petitioner in this Case - And this Deponent also verily believes that of the said Scott would attend the Trial of this case that he the said Scott cold prove by the acknowledgement of the person who was the Master of the petitioner at the time that the petitioner states the transaction whereby he claims his freedom to have taken place, that the... petitioner was sold by a certain Nathaniel Patterson to a certain Robert Fleming some time in the year seventeen hundred and eight four that at the time of said Sale said Patterson resided in the State of Maryland and the said Fleming in the State of Pennsylvania, And that this Deponent also believes that said Scott cold prove that a short time before the Sale Aforesaid the petitioner went to reside with the said Robert Fleming in the State of Pennsylvania" Although Taney later became identified with his pro-slavery leanings, early in his career, he had abolitionist leanings. In 1806 Taney had married Anne Phoebe Charlton Key, sister of Francis Scott Key, and entered a circle of reform minded individuals who sought to protect free blacks from kidnappings and to alleviate the harsh realities of slavery. During his early legal career, Taney would take up several such cases, including the defense of a abolitionist preacher jailed for inciting a riot in Frederick, Maryland. The majority of papers involved in this case are now part of the collection of the University of Virginia Law School. Usual folds, rough margins, else very good condition. Offered together with an unrelated manuscript D.S. 4pp. legal folio, [n.p.], Mar. 9, 1850 being a series of accounts dating between 1845 and 1850 which include notes on payment by means of "negro hire" Usual folds, else very good condition. Together, two pieces.