The treatment of Supreme Court Justice James Wayne, Class of 1808 (feature, Jan. 13), was fair in its criticism of his role in the Dred Scott decision. But it was not fair in the impression it left of this distinguished Princetonian.
Throughout his career, he fought to maintain the Union. He presided over the infamous Wanderer slave ship trial in Savannah, and was widely reviled in his native South for doing so. The Wanderer episode, too, pushed the nation closer to civil war, but in this case Justice Wayne was on the “right” side. He stayed loyal to the Union after secession and remained on the Supreme Court until his death in 1867. The South considered him a traitor, but he remained constant in his principled faith in the United States.
Browsing Letters 2009-2010