Begin New Search
Refine Last Search
Cemetery Lookup
Add Burial Records
Help with Find A Grave

Find all Roanes in:
 • Brockenbrough Family Cemetery
 • Warm Springs
 • Bath County
 • Virginia
 • Find A Grave

Top Contributors
Success Stories
Community Forums
Find A Grave Store

Log In
Judge Spencer Roane
Birth: Apr. 4, 1762
Essex County
Virginia, USA
Death: Sep. 4, 1822
Warm Springs
Bath County
Virginia, USA

Jurist. Called "the original secessionist", he was the framer of the "Compact Theory" which became the legal basis for the Confederacy during the Civil War. The child of a distinguished Scottish immigrant family, he received his early education in private schools, entered the College of William and Mary in 1877, studied law under Chancellor George Wythe, also the teacher of Thomas Jefferson and John Marshall, and took an extra year of training in Philadelphia. He practiced law for a short time, was named to the Virginia Council of State at 22, served in the House of Delegates, and in 1789 was appointed judge of the General Court. Roane married Anne Henry, daughter of Patrick Henry, and quickly became allied with his father-in-law and others such as George Mason who fought against ratification of the U.S. Constitution as they were fundamentally opposed to centralizing power, believing that each state was the supreme judge of itself. Appointed Judge of the Court of Appeals in 1794, Roane started a battle with the Federal courts that continued until he died. When his Richmond neighbor John Marshall became Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court in 1801, the contest became personified in the two men. Marshall had led the opposition to Patrick Henry and George Mason in the Virginia Ratification Convention and held a strong view of federal appellate jurisdiction while Roane and the Republicans argued that the Constitution was a voluntary compact..."the government of the United States is not a sole and consolidated government"...with the several states retaining all powers except those specifically granted to the central government. The Republicans were against the National Bank, tariffs, and government funded internal improvements, and Roane was their judicial voice. He became an ally of Thomas Jefferson in his political and personal feud with John Marshall, and while the friendship did not begin until 1809 when Jefferson was no longer President, there is evidence that Jefferson wanted to appoint him Chief Justice had not Adams beat him to the punch with the 'midnight appointment' of Marshall. Roane's conception of state's rights would have greatly limited the Federal Courts' power; the battle reached its zenith in 1821 with the case of "Virginia v. Cohens", on the surface a minor dispute over the sale of lottery tickets, but actually a major test case in the controversy over whether Federal Courts may assume jurisdiction over a matter entirely contained within one state. Marshall took jurisdiction, though Roane believed that the tenth and eleventh amendments to the US Constitution, which state that a state may not be a party to a lawsuit without its consent, forbade him to do so. His opinions foreshadowing the Nullification Crisis of a few years later, Judge Roane frequently spoke out against the Supreme Court and authored newspaper articles explaining the conservative position, but after he died no one was available to take his place as the judicial champion of state's rights. On two occasions he was tasked with revising the legal codes of Virginia. Roane County and its county seat Spencer, located in what is now West Virginia, are named in his honor. A portion of his correspondence with Thomas Jefferson has been preserved, though unfortunately the Judge burned many of his papers prior to his death. (bio by: Bob Hufford) 
Family links: 
  Anne Henry Roane (1767 - 1799)*
  William Henry Roane (1787 - 1845)*
  Fayette Roane (1792 - 1819)*
  Eliza Roane McDonald (1802 - 1860)*
*Calculated relationship
Brockenbrough Family Cemetery
Warm Springs
Bath County
Virginia, USA
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Originally Created by: Bob Hufford
Record added: Mar 16, 2007
Find A Grave Memorial# 18472831
Judge Spencer Roane
Added by: Bob Hufford
Photos may be scaled.
Click on image for full size.

- James Snow
 Added: Sep. 4, 2014
Judge Spencer Roane GOD Bless you and the ones which may view here too!
- Jonathan Robert De Mallie
 Added: Apr. 14, 2014

- Mellissa Lake Co. Illinois
 Added: Apr. 4, 2014
There are 15 more notes not showing...
Click here to view all notes...
Do you have a photo to add? Click here
How famous was this person?
Current ranking for this person: (3.5 after 13 votes)

Privacy Statement and Terms of Service