Spencer Roane (1795-1822)

Further reading:

Margaret E. Horsnell, Spencer Roane: Judicial Advocate of Jeffersonian Principles  (1986).

Timothy S. Huebner, The Southern Judicial Tradition: State Judges and Sectional Distinctiveness, 1790-1890 (1999).

Gary McDowell, “Spencer Roane and the Politics of Federal Judicial Power, ” in McDowell, The Language of Law and the Foundations of American Constitutionalism (2010).

J. Miller Thornton,  “John Marshall in Spencer Roane’s Virginia: The Southern Constitutional Opposition to the Marshall Court,” John Marshall Law Review vol. 3, No. 4 (2000).

J. Miller Thornton, “A Shield of Liberty: Pendleton’s and Roane’s Court of Appeals,” in Juries and Judges versus the Law: Virginia’s Provincial Perspective, 1783-1828 (1994).

Samuel R. Olken, “Spencer Roane (1762-1822),” Yale Biographical Dictionary of American Law (2009).

Olken, “John Marshall and Spencer Roane: An Historical Analysis of Their Conflict over U. S. Supreme Court Appellate Jurisdiction, ” Journal of Supreme Court History (1990).


Research Collections:

Connecting Presidential Collections (a centralized site for searching across presidential collections) provides access to circa 32 pieces of Spencer Roane correspondence, 1784-1822,  in the Papers of Thomas Jefferson (2 items), the Papers of James Madison (16 items), and the Papers of James Monroe (13 items).

Library of Virginia (Personal Papers Collection)
Richmond, Va.
Roane Family Papers, 1795-1841, parts I and IV.
Part I: 9 letters and a bill of complaint.
Principal correspondents are William H. Roane and his father Spencer Roane; letter from Patrick Henry to his daughter Anne Roane (1795), wife of Spencer, and a letter from John Tyler to Senator William Henry Roane (1840). “Political matters are the primary topic of the correspondence, but there is incidental mention of family life, education, and heath, as well as comments on the progress of the construction at the University of Virginia. The court suit deals with the portion of the estate of Patrick Henry to which the Roanes were entitled.”

Part IV: Clippings concerning Spencer Roane, Edmund Ruffin, and various plantations.

Commission as judge of the general court, 1789 November 20.

Virginia Historical Society
Richmond, Va.
Harrison Family Papers, 1756-1893, section 2, correspondence, 1802-1821, of Spencer Roane; 14 items.
Description from finding aid: Correspondence with William Brockenbrough (concerning land belonging to the Protestant Episcopal Church in Virginia), daughter Eliza (Roane) Ruffin McDonald, Edmund Randolph (concerning George Wythe as judge of the Virginia Superior Court of Chancery for the Richmond District), son William Henry Roane (at Norfolk, Va.), John Taylor (concerning Thomas Ritchie and Taylor’s pamphlets Construction Construed and Constitutions Vindicated [Richmond, 1820] and Tyranny Unmasked [Washington, D.C., 1822]) and Edmund Winston ([imperfect] of “Red Hill,” Charlotte County, Va.).”