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John Marshall

John Marshall

As the fourth chief justice of the United States, John Marshall (1755-1835) was the principal architect in consolidating and defining the powers of the Supreme Court. Perhaps more than any other man he set the prevailing tone of American constitutional law.

The eldest of Thomas and Mary Marshall's 15 children, John Marshall was born on Sept. 24, 1755, near Germantown, Va. Frontier and family were the shaping forces of his youth. His mother came from the aristocratic Randolphs of "Turkey Island." His father—"the foundation of all my own success in life," recalled John Marshall—was a man of humble origin who, through native ability and strength of character, rose to relative prominence. Marshall's spare formal education consisted mainly of tutored lessons in the classics and Latin. His father saw to it, however, that John was solidly grounded in English literature and history; he also brought home practical lessons in politics from his service in the Virginia House of Burgesses during the years preceding the American Revolution.

Family unity, a tradition of learning, and a concern for affairs of the world shielded young Marshall from the barbarity of the frontier. But the West also left its mark—in a gaiety of heart, an open democratic demeanor, and a manliness of character that were no small part of Marshall's gift of leadership.

American Revolution

A dedicated patriot from the outset, Marshall saw action with the Culpepper Minutemen in 1775. As an officer in the Continental Line, he took part in several important battles and endured the hardships of Valley Forge. His experience, fortified by his association with George Washington and other nationalist leaders, left him with the passionate love of union and chronic distrust of state particularism that later became the twin pillars of his constitutional law.

Before Capt. Marshall was mustered out of the Army in 1781, he had decided on law as a profession. He heard George Wythe's law lectures at the College of William and Mary in 1780, and during that summer he was licensed to practice and that August was admitted to the county bar. During this same period Marshall fell in love with Mary Ambler. They were married in January 1783 and took up residence in Richmond, Va.

Early Political Career

Marshall's natural eloquence, charismatic personality, and rare gift for logical analysis overcame the deficiencies in his legal education. He rose quickly to the head of the Richmond bar. He also distinguished himself in state politics. He sat in the House of Burgesses (1782-1784, 1787-1791, and 1795-1797), where he consistently supported nationalist measures. He served on the important Committee on the Courts of Justice and when only 27 was elected by the legislature to the governor's Council of State.

Marshall's legislative experience confirmed his belief that the Articles of Confederation needed to be strengthened against the irresponsible and selfish forces of state power. As a delegate to the Virginia convention for the ratification of the Federal Constitution (1788), he put his nationalist ideas to use. Though somewhat overshadowed by established statesmen, he spoke influentially for ratification. And on the hotly debated subject of the Federal judiciary, he led the nationalist offensive.

Federalist orthodoxy and demonstrated ability soon won Marshall national prominence. During the crisis over the Jay Treaty in 1795, when party lines began to crystallize, Marshall supported Washington and Alexander Hamilton against the Jeffersonian Republicans. As a lawyer in the Supreme Court case of Ware v. Hylton (1796), he adhered to Federalist principles by arguing the supremacy of national law.

Marshall had turned down offers from President Washington to be attorney general and minister to France. In 1797 he agreed to serve on the "XYZ mission" to France. Shortly after his return, President John Adams offered him an appointment to the Supreme Court, but he declined. Elected to Congress in 1798, he soon became a leader of the Federalists in the House. Declining to serve as secretary of war, he accepted appointment in 1800 as secretary of state. Eight months later Adams appointed him chief justice of the Supreme Court, hoping to hold back the forces of states'-rights democracy, which in the form of the Jeffersonian Republicans had gained control of the Federal government.

Chief Justice

Marshall took his seat on the Court on March 5, 1801, and from that time until his death was absorbed in judicial duties. He did find time, however, to write a five-volume biography of George Washington (1804-1807) and to serve in the Virginia constitutional convention (1829-1830). But it was as chief justice that Marshall made his mark on American history. The pressing problem in 1801 was to unify and strengthen the Court. Accordingly he persuaded his colleagues to abandon the practice of delivering separate opinions and to permit him to write the opinion of the Court, which he did in the great majority of cases from 1801 to 1811. In addition, Marshall gave the Court a needed victory. His opinion in Marbury v. Madison (1803) for the first time declared an act of Congress unconstitutional, thus consolidating the Court's power of judicial review and providing future Courts with an elaborate defense of judicial power.

In United States v. Peters (1809) Marshall struck another blow for judicial power, this time against the claims of a state, by establishing the Court's right to be the final interpreter of Federal law. His opinion in Fletcher v. Peck held that the contract clause of the Constitution prevented state legislatures from repealing grants of land to private-interest groups. This was the first in a series of contract decisions that encouraged the growth of corporate capitalism. Few of Marshall's opinions touched civil rights; but in the Aaron Burr treason case, he struck a powerful blow for political freedom by defining treason narrowly and requiring strict proof for conviction.

Precedent-setting Cases

From the end of the War of 1812 through 1824 the Marshall Court was most creative. Marshall's position on the Court was less dominant than it had been before because able, new justices appeared. But he was unquestionably the guiding spirit and personally wrote opinions in the most important constitutional cases. Two such were McCulloch v. Maryland (1819) and Gibbons v. Ogden (1824). In the first case, Marshall upheld the congressional act chartering the Second Bank of the United States, thereby securing a national currency and credit structure for interstate capitalism. Also, by authorizing Congress to go beyond enumerated powers through a broad interpretation of the "necessary and proper" clause, he created a body of implied national powers.

Marshall's Gibbons opinion gave Congress supreme and comprehensive authority within the enumerated powers of Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution. The definition of commerce in the Gibbons case was sufficiently broad to bring the revolutionary developments in transportation and communication of the 20th century within the scope of congressional authority. These two cases created a reservoir of national power and guaranteed a flexible Constitution that could meet the nation's changing needs. That the Court should be the final interpreter of that flexible Constitution was the message of Marshall's compelling opinion in Cohens v. Virginia (1821).

Marshall's Concept of the Nation

Nationalist though he was, Marshall did not intend to destroy the states or establish the nation as an end in itself. He envisaged the national good as the sum of the productive individuals who constituted it, each pursuing his self-interest. Accordingly Marshall's opinions worked to release the creative energies of private enterprise and create a national arena for their operation. In Dartmouth College v. Woodward (1819) Marshall ruled that a corporation charter was a contract within the meaning of the Constitution which the states could not impair. As a result, private educational institutions, along with hundreds of business corporations chartered by the states, were secured against state interference. The unleashed forces of commerce, Marshall believed, would transcend selfish provincialism and create a powerful, self-sufficient nation.

Aroused states'-rights pressures in the 1820s forced the Marshall Court to curtail its nationalism. In addition, new appointments to the Court allowed division and dissent to burst into the open. The chief justice did not surrender national principles—as evidenced in Brown v. Maryland (1827) and Worcester v. Georgia (1832)—and he continued to lead the Court, but the age of judicial creativity was temporarily over. With the election of President Andrew Jackson in 1828, Marshall became increasingly pessimistic.

Meanwhile the death of Marshall's wife left him disconsolate. And his own health began to fail, though he remained intellectually alert and continued performing his duties until his death on July 6, 1835.

Marshall died believing that the Constitution and the republic for which he had labored were gone, but history proved him wrong. The nation continued along the course of nationalism and capitalism that he had done so much to establish; the Court and the law continued to follow the lines he projected. His reputation as the "great chief justice" seems secure.

Further Reading

Albert J. Beveridge, The Life of John Marshall (4 vols., 1916-1919; rev. ed., 2 vols., 1947), despite its nationalist bias, remains the standard biography. Edward S. Corwin, John Marshall and the Constitution: A Chronicle of the Supreme Court (1919), concentrates on his judicial career.

James Bradley Thayer and others, John Marshall (1967), is a collection of classic essays. William M. Jones, ed., Chief Justice John Marshall: A Reappraisal (1956), is another collection of distinguished essays. The most exhaustive analysis of Marshall's judicial philosophy is Robert K. Faulkner, The Jurisprudence of John Marshall (1968). The relationship between the two giants of American constitutional development is examined in Samuel J. Konefsky, John Marshall and Alexander Hamilton: Architects of the American Constitution (1964). Standard constitutional histories, such as Charles Warren, The Supreme Court in United States History (3 vols., 1923; rev. ed., 2 vols., 1926), and Charles G. Haines, The Role of the Supreme Court in American Government and Politics, 1789-1835 (1944), also contain material on Marshall's career. For further material the reader should consult James A. Servies, A Bibliography of John Marshall (1956), and numerous essays on him in historical and legal periodicals. □

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Marshall, John


John Marshall presided over the U.S. Supreme Court from 1801 to 1835. Appointed by President john adams, Marshall assumed leadership during a pivotal era. The early nineteenth century saw tremendous political battles over the future of the United States and its Constitution, often with the Court at the center of controversy. By the force of personality, argument, and shrewdness, Marshall steered it through this rocky yet formative period. He weathered harsh criticism as the Court set important precedents that increased its power and defined its role in government. Historians credit him with establishing what has been called the American judicial tradition, in which the Supreme Court acts as an independent branch of government endowed with final authority over constitutional interpretation.

Marshall was born September 24, 1755, near Germantown (now Midland), Virginia. He was the son of Thomas Marshall, a wealthy landowner, justice of the peace, and sheriff. Like his father he fought in the Revolutionary War and married into a prominent family. His father's tutoring significantly enhanced his mere two years of formal education, which were augmented in 1780 by a brief attendance at lectures in law at the College of William and Mary.

Marshall was also influenced by george washington. Because of his service to General Washington in the war, Marshall became a strong Federalist. He later wrote about his mentor in his book Life of George Washington (1805–7).

Marriage ties made Marshall a relative of a leading Virginia political family. This helped secure his place in society, paving the way for an early legal and political career in the 1780s. He specialized in appellate cases and quickly distinguished himself in the Virginia state bar. He also served in Virginia's council of state from 1782 to 1784, and in its house of delegates four times between 1782 and 1795. But it was as a partisan of the Federalists—the opponents of the states' rights–minded Republicans—that he came to wide acclaim. The struggle between the Federalists and the Jeffersonian Republicans was the most important political contest of the day. Marshall served as a devoted publicist and organizer for the Federalist cause in Virginia, and this work earned him various offers to serve as U.S. attorney general and as an associate justice of the Supreme Court. It also earned him the animosity of his distant cousin, Republican thomas jefferson, who soon became U.S. president and was his lifelong political adversary.

"It is, emphatically, the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is."
—John Marshall

In 1798 Marshall agreed to serve Federalist president John Adams as one of three U.S. ministers to France during one of the Napoleonic Wars between France and Great Britain. In a scandal known as the xyz affair, the French foreign ministry attempted to solicit a bribe from the U.S. emissaries, and Marshall became a national hero for refusing. He quickly emerged

as the leading spokesman for federalism in Washington, D.C., as a member of Congress from 1799 to 1800 and briefly as secretary of state under Adams in 1800. Then Adams lost the 1800 presidential election to Jefferson, and the Republicans won control of Congress. In a desperate attempt to preserve the Federalists' power, Adams spent the remaining days of his administration making judicial appointments. Sixteen new positions for judges on federal circuit courts and dozens for justices of the peace in the District of Columbia were handed out during the final days of Adams's administration. These last-minute appointees came to be known as midnight judges. One of these seats went to Marshall, who was appointed chief justice of the Supreme Court.

On March 4, 1801, Marshall assumed his duties as the head of the Court. Jefferson and the Republicans were furious over Adams's court stacking, and they swiftly quashed the appointments—except that, inexplicably, they did not challenge Marshall's. Marshall kept the Court out of the fray. He feared that in a conflict between the judiciary and the executive branch, the Court would lose.

Marshall again faced political conflict when in 1803 the Court ruled on a case brought by William Marbury, whose appointment as a D.C. justice of the peace had been one of those barred by the Republicans. Marshall's opinion for the unanimous Court in marbury v. madison, 5 U.S. (1 Cranch) 137, 2 L. Ed. 60, dismissed Marbury's suit on the ground that the Supreme Court lacked jurisdiction to rule on it. But at the same time, the Court restated the position that it had the power to rule on questions of constitutionality. By striking down a section of the judiciary act of 1789 (1 Stat. 73), Marshall's opinion marked the first time that the Court overturned an act of Congress. Not for more than fifty years would it exercise this power again. Marshall asserted the right of the Supreme Court to engage in judicial review of the law, writing, "It is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is." Marbury was the crucial first step in the evolution of the Supreme Court's authority as it exists today.

Marshall emphasized the need to limit state power by asserting the primacy of the federal government over the states. In 1819, as Marshall reached the height of his influence, he cited the Contracts Clause of the U.S. Constitution (art.

1, § 10) as a basis for protecting corporate charters from state interference (trustees of dartmouth college v. woodward, 17 U.S. [4 Wheat.] 518, 4 L. Ed. 629). That year he also struck a blow to states' rights in mcculloch v. maryland, 17 U.S. (4 Wheat.) 316, 4 L. Ed. 579, where he noted that the Constitution is not a "splendid bauble" that states can abridge as they see fit. In 1821 he advanced the theory of judicial review, rejecting a challenge by the state of Virginia to the appellate authority of the Supreme Court (Cohens v. Virginia, 19 U.S. [6 Wheat.] 264, 5 L. Ed. 257).

In his written opinions, Marshall typically relied on the power of logic and his own forceful eloquence, rather than citing law. This approach was noted by Associate Justice joseph story: "When I examine a question, I go from headland to headland, from case to case. Marshall has a compass, puts out to sea, and goes directly to the result."

Marshall was not without opponents. Foremost among them was Jefferson. In 1810 Jefferson wrote to President james madison that "[t]he Chief Justice's leadership was marked by "cunning and sophistry" and displayed "rancourous hatred" of the democratic principles of the Republicans. Jefferson led the Republican attack on Marshall with the accusation that he twisted the law to suit his own biases.

Although Marshall weathered the attacks, his authority, and the Court's, was ultimately affected. Not all his decisions were enforced; some were openly resisted by the president. New appointments to the Court brought states' rights advocates onto the bench, and Marshall began to compromise as a leader and to make concessions to ideological opponents.

Marshall died in office on July 6, 1835.

further readings

Friedman, Leon, and Fred L. Israel, eds. 1969. The Justices of the Supreme Court, 1789–1969: Their Lives and Major Opinions. New York: Chelsea House.

Klarman, Michael J. 2001. "How Great Were the 'Great' Marshall Court Decisions?" Virginia Law Review 87 (October): 1111–84.

Marion, David E. 2001. "The State of the Canon in Constitutional Law: Lessons from the Jurisprudence of John Marshall." The William and Mary Bill of Rights Journal 9 (February): 385–417.

Newmyer, R. Kent. 2001. John Marshall and the Heroic Age of the Supreme Court. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State Univ. Press.

Olken, Samuel R. 2000. "Chief Justice John Marshall and the Course of American Constitutional History." John Marshall Law Review 33 (summer): 743–79.

Simon, James F. 2002. What Kind of Nation: Thomas Jefferson, John Marshall, and the Epic Struggle to Create a United States. New York: Simon & Schuster.


Constitution of the United States; Fletcher v. Peck; Gibbons v. Ogden; Supreme Court of the United States.

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Marshall, John (1755-1835)

John Marshall (1755-1835)


Chief justice of the supreme court

Second Choice. John Marshall was President John Adamss second choice for appointment to the Supreme Court when Chief Justice Oliver Ellsworth resigned in 1800. The selection of a chief justice took on heightened importance since the election of Thomas Jefferson, and a Republican Congress meant that the Federalists would no longer control the government. John Adams knew that the courts alone could impose a lasting Federalist balance to an otherwise politically lopsided government. He turned first to John Jay, former chief justice, the governor of New York, and an esteemed Federalist. Jay, however, had few fond memories of his service on the Supreme Court, with its punishing requirement of riding the circuit and the lack of a clearly defined constitutional role. He politely declined the honor, but his letter did not reach Adams until the middle of January 1801. With barely two months left in office, Adams had little time to deliberate on a substitute; he had to choose quickly. When Secretary of State John Marshall presented Jays letter to the president, Adams looked up and asked, Who shall I nominate now? Answering his own question, the president told Marshall: I believe I must nominate you.

Early Years. John Marshall was born in the frontier county of Fauquier, Virginia, on 24 September 1755, the first child of Thomas and Mary Keith Marshall. He was descended from the great Randolph family, a distinction he shared with his rival, Thomas Jefferson. Thomas Marshall made his life as a surveyor and land agent and somehow found the means to borrow or purchase a substantial library. He encouraged his young son to read history and poetry. Marshall recalled in later years great happiness in transcribing the works of Alexander Pope at the age of twelve. Marshalls youth was steeped in the revolutionary spirit, and as a captain in the Continental Army he saw action in the battles of Brandywine, Germantown, and Monmouth. Marshall returned to Virginia in late 1779 and began to study law under George Wythe at William and Mary College. Marshall was still in the Continental Army when he was studying law, and this part-time education was his only formal legal training. He was admitted to the Virginia bar on 28 August 1780. In 1783 he married Mary Ambler, known as Polly.

Lawyer. Marshall became one of Virginias foremost lawyers, noted for his skill in thinking quickly on his feet. The 1783 Treaty of Paris had provided for repayment of prewar debts owed to British creditors, but states tried to protect their citizens from having to repay. Marshall made his fame and early fortune as a lawyer representing Virginians who sought to use state laws to stave off the claims of British creditors. In one case, Ware v. Hylton (1796), Marshall appeared before the Supreme Court to argue that a Virginia statute that allowed citizens to discharge their debts by making payments to the state treasury should be upheld. Judge James Iredell wrote that the oral argument before the Court reflected a degree of ability equal to any occasion an ingenuity, a depth of investigation, and a power of reasoning fully equal to anything I have ever witnessed. Marshalls talents were large, but he lost his case, the only one he ever argued before the Supreme Court. The Treaty of Paris had to be upheld, in Justice William Cushings words, as being sanctioned as the supreme law, by the Constitution of the United States, which nobody pretends to deny to be paramount and controlling to all state laws, and even state constitutions, wheresoever they interfere or disagree. Marshall would embrace these sentiments of the primacy of the federal laws and Constitution during his tenure on the Court.

X, Y, Z. Marshalls commitment to the new nation led him to public service, and he was elected to the Virginia Assembly in 1782. He was an ardent nationalist and one of Virginias foremost supporters of ratification of the Constitution. At the 1788 Virginia Constitutional Convention Marshall offered a strong defense of Article III, the judiciary article. Marshall confronted the Anti-Federalist opposition by explaining the importance of an independent judiciary to the balance of federal power. Embracing the concept of judicial review, Marshall declared that if Congress were to enact a law not warranted by the Constitution, the Court would declare it void. In 1797 President Adams appointed Marshall, Virginias leading Federalist after Washington, to join Charles Cotesworth Pinckney and Elbridge Gerry as a special envoy to Paris. Marshall was appalled when he and his colleagues were approached by French ministers soliciting bribes. In dispatches sent back to America he gave the ministers the code names X, Y, and Z and found himself something of a hero when he returned home. Marshall was elected to Congress as a Virginia Federalist, and President Adams appointed him secretary of war on 9 May 1800. Marshall requested that Adams withdraw his nomination. Adams was so determined to have Marshall in his cabinet that he dismissed Secretary of State Timothy Pickering in order to open up the post for Marshall. He did not decline this honor for which I had vanity enough to think myself fitted. After the sweeping Federalist losses in the election of 1800 Marshall expected to retire from public service with John Adams. However, when John Jay declined a second appointment as chief justice, John Marshall found himself at the head of the third branch of government, politically isolated and lacking any practical experience. He was just forty-five years old.

On the Bench. Marshalls first act as chief justice was to administer the presidential oath to Thomas Jefferson on 4 March 1801. This was the first occasion when leadership in America passed from one party to another, a peaceful transfer of power. Resulting from a popular election, the event was a stunning demonstration of the great American experiment. As chief justice, Marshall developed the primacy of the Supreme Court in interpreting the Constitution and laws. Marshall established an overwhelming series of precedents: the doctrine of judicial review (Marbury v. Madison in 1803), a limited meaning of treason (the Aaron Burr trial of 1807), the federal governments constitutional supremacy over the states (United States v. Peters in 1809), limits on the governments power to interfere with contracts {Fletcher v. Peck in 1810), and broad powers for Congress (McCulloch v. Maryland in 1819). He also established the Supreme Court as the final voice when the states and the federal government disagreed. Marshall enhanced the Court by making it speak with one voice. He frowned on allowing each justice to write a separate opinion, and by the power of his social skills and legal reasoning he dominated the Court. Marshalls Court decided the vast majority of cases unanimously, and he wrote the opinions in about half of the decisions handed down between 1801 and 1835.

Final Years. Marshalls work on the Court was supplemented by his deep devotion to Polly, who was a sickly woman in need of regular care and attention, and to writing history. He wrote the first biography of George Washington in 18051807. After Polly died on Christmas Day 1831, Marshalls health began to fail; he died on 6 July 1835. At his funeral in Philadelphia, the Liberty Bell cracked while paying tribute to the great chief justice.


Jean Edward Smith, John Marshall: Definer of a Nation (New York: Holt, 1996).

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Marshall, John

John Marshall, 1755–1835, American jurist, 4th chief justice of the United States (1801–35), b. Virginia.

Early Life

The eldest of 15 children, John Marshall was born in a log cabin on the Virginia frontier (today in Fauquier co., Va.) and spent his childhood and youth in primitive surroundings. His father rose to prominence in local and state politics. Through his mother he was related to the Lees and the Randolphs and to Thomas Jefferson, later his great antagonist.

Marshall first left home for any length of time to serve as an officer in the American Revolution. He returned in 1779 after attending for a few months lectures on law given by George Wythe at the College of William and Mary (his only formal education). Admitted to the bar in 1780, he practiced law in the West and was elected (1782) a delegate to the Virginia assembly. He married and settled in Richmond, his home until his death.

Political Career

His brilliant skill in argument made him one of the most esteemed of the many great lawyers of Virginia. A defender of the new U.S. Constitution at the Virginia ratifying convention, Marshall later staunchly supported the Federalist administration, and after refusing Washington's offer to make him U.S. Attorney General or minister to France, he finally accepted appointment as one of the commissioners to France in the diplomatic dispute that ended in the XYZ Affair.

Marshall's effectiveness there made him a popular figure, and he was elected to Congress as a Federalist in 1799. One of the tiny group that continued to support President John Adams, he was prevailed upon to become Secretary of State (1800–1801). Before he left the cabinet he was appointed chief justice and confirmed by the Senate despite some opposition.

Great Chief Justice

In his long service on the bench, Marshall raised the Supreme Court from an anomalous position in the federal scheme to power and majesty, and he molded the Constitution by the breadth and wisdom of his interpretation; he eminently deserves the appellation the Great Chief Justice. He dominated the court equally by his personality and his ability, and his achievements were made in spite of strong disagreements with Jefferson and later Presidents.

A loyal Federalist, Marshall saw in the Constitution the instrument of national unity and federal power and the guarantee of the security of private property. He made incontrovertible the previously uncertain right of the Supreme Court to review federal and state laws and to pronounce final judgment on their constitutionality. He viewed the Constitution on the one hand as a precise document setting forth specific powers and on the other hand as a living instrument that should be broadly interpreted so as to give the federal government the means to act effectively within its limited sphere (see McCulloch v. Maryland).

His opinion in the Dartmouth College Case was the most famous of those that dealt with the constitutional requirement of the inviolability of contract, another favorite theme with Marshall. His interpretation of the interstate commerce clause of the Constitution, most notably in Gibbons v. Ogden, made it a powerful extension of federal power at the expense of the states. In general Marshall opposed states' rights doctrines, and there were many criticisms advanced against him and against the increasing prestige of the Supreme Court.

The sometimes undignified quarrel with Jefferson (which had one of its earliest expressions in Marbury v. Madison) reached a high point in the trial (1807) of Aaron Burr for treason. Marshall presided as circuit judge and interpreted the clause in the Constitution requiring proof of an "overt act" for conviction of treason so that Burr escaped conviction because he had engaged only in a conspiracy. Marshall's difficulties with President Jackson reached their peak when Marshall declared against Georgia in the matter of expelling the Cherokee, a decision that the state flouted.

Influence and Style

Marshall in his arguments drew much from his colleagues, especially his devoted adherent, Justice Joseph Story, and he was stimulated and inspired by the lawyers pleading before the court, among them some of the most brilliant legal minds America has seen, including Daniel Webster, Luther Martin, William Pinkney, William Wirt, and Jeremiah Mason. Marshall in his manners combined the unceremonious heartiness of the frontier with the leisurely grace of the Virginia aristocracy. So great was his winning charm and so absolute his integrity that he gained the admiration of his enemies and the unbounded affection of his friends.

His style combined conciseness and precision. He wrote each opinion as a series of logical deductions from self-evident propositions, and it was almost never his practice to cite legal authority. It is in these opinions that his literary skill is shown rather than in his major nonlegal work, The Life of George Washington (5 vol., 1804–7). Marshall's constitutional opinions are collected in editions by J. M. Dillon (1903) and J. P. Cotton (1905). An autobiographic sketch was published in 1937.


See biographies by A. J. Beveridge (4 vol. 1916–19), L. Baker (1981), and F. N. Stites (1981); R. K. Newmyer, John Marshall and the Heroic Age of the Supreme Court (2001); J. F. Simon, What Kind of Nation: Thomas Jefferson, John Marshall, and the Epic Struggle to Create a United States (2002).

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