John Marshall: The Chief Justice Who Saved the Nation

John Marshall: The Chief Justice Who Saved the Nation

Language: English

Pages: 384

ISBN: 0306824566

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


The surprising life of Chief Justice John Marshall, who turned the Supreme Court into a bulwark against presidential and congressional tyranny and saved American democracy

In this startling biography, award-winning author Harlow Giles Unger reveals how Virginia-born John Marshall emerged from the Revolutionary War's bloodiest battlefields to become one of the nation's most important Founding Fathers: America's greatest Chief Justice. With nine decisions that shocked the nation, John Marshall and his court saved American liberty by protecting individual rights and the rights of private business against tyranny by federal, state, and local government.

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government the right “to pull down what there is an acknowledged right in another government to build up.” His voice then rose as he proclaimed, “We are unanimously of opinion that the law passed by the legislature of Maryland imposing a tax on the Bank of the United States is unconstitutional and void.”9 By voiding a state law and further paring state sovereignty, McCulloch outraged the South. Undeterred, however, Marshall and the Court continued adding to southern outrage in case after case.

15. Rosenfeld, American Aurora, 804. 16. JM to John Adams, May 8, 1800, JM Papers, 4:148–149. 17. JM Autobiographical Sketch, 28–29. 18. W. P. Cresson, James Monroe (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1946), 201. 19. Ibid., 202, citing Henry Adams, History of the United States during the Administrations of Jefferson and Madison, 1801–1817, 8 vols. (New York: 1889–1891), 2:351. 20. Ibid., citing Helen Nicolay, Our Capital on the Potomac (New York: Century Co., 1924), 70. 21.

Congress Jefferson Papers, 22701, cited by Malone, Jefferson the President, 467. 36. JM to James Markham Marshall, April 1, 1804, JM Papers, 6:277–278. 37. New York Evening Post, January 20, 1804. 38. JM to James M. Marshall, April 1, 1804, JM Papers, 6:277–279; JM to Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, November 21, 1802, ibid., 6:124–126. Chapter 12: A Deadly Interview 1. Sergeant-at-Arms of the National Senate, Annals, 8th Congress, 1st session, 319. 2. John Quincy Adams, Diary of John Quincy

destroyed it as a viable political force and created dangerous tears in the fragile national political fabric. The Federalists lost not only the presidency and vice presidency, they lost control of both houses of Congress, with Jefferson’s Republicans winning 18 of 32 Senate seats, or 56.3 percent of the votes, and 64 of 105 seats in the House of Representatives, or a 61 percent share of the votes. In effect President Jefferson and the Republicans had won a mandate to govern as they saw fit.

fining and jailing Callender for violating the Sedition Law, Chase had violated the editor-publisher’s First Amendment rights to freedom of the press. When the defense called the Chief Justice to testify, Marshall pointed out that the object of a criminal trial is to determine the guilt of the defendant, not the constitutionality of the law. “The counsel [for Callender] persisted in arguing the constitutionality of the sedition law,” Marshall testified, “in which they were constantly repressed

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