John Marshall Essay

John Marshall Essay

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The late 1700s and early 1800s was a critical time period in American history in which our newly independent nation was beginning to lay down the groundwork for how the country would run. During this time, America was in its infancy and its crucial first steps would dictate how the nation would either walk, run, or retreat. John Marshall, the fourth Chief Justice of the Unites States, was a highly important and influential political figure whose decisions forever molded the future of the American judicial system. Like many other great political figures, much of John Marshall’s influence can be attributed to timing; he emerged just as the United States Constitution came into existence.
John Marshall was born in Virginia in 1755 to a large family whose father was involved with local politics and whose mother was the cousin of Thomas Jefferson, who was later Marshall’s adversary. After serving as an officer in the American Revolution, Marshall returned home in 1779 to become one of the most prominent lawyers in Virginia. In 1782, he was elected as a delegate to the Virginia assembly and later, took part in the Virginia ratifying convention, in which he staunchly defended the new United States Constitution. Rising in popularity, John Marshall was elected to Congress in 1799, and continuing to remain loyal to the Federalist Party, put his full support behind President John Adams, who appointed him Secretary of State in 1801 (“John Marshall”).
In the presidential election of 1800, which is also known as the “revolution of 1800”, Thomas Jefferson was elected, marking an end to John Adams’ term and the Federalist’s rule (“The Election of 1800”). After being defeated by Jefferson, Adams quickly nominated John Marshall as Chief Justice d...


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... Court saw some of the most controversial and unprecedented decisions ever to be made in American History. Lord Bryce described his overall influence; “The Constitution seemed not so much to rise under his hands to full stature, as to be gradually unveiled by him till it stood revealed in the harmonious perfection of the form which its framers had designed” (Smith, “Maximum Justice”). The Supreme Court under Marshall took on the vital role of interpreting specific clauses of the U.S. Constitution and enumerating the powers it granted for both the state and federal governments. He elevated the status of the judicial branch until it was in an equal position of power as the other two. Above all, John Marshall did everything in his power to achieve his most important objective; to strengthen and protect the “more perfect union” the United States Constitution created.

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