BIOGRAPHY: JOHN MARSHALL (SUPREME COURT JUSTICE [1755-1835])

SYNOPSIS

John Marshall was born on September 24, 1755 near Germantown, Virginia and died in July 6, 1835 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In 1780 he started his own law practice. He defends his clients against pre war British creditors. In the year 1782 he held various political offices. In 1801 John Marshall also became the Chief Justice of the U.S.

EARLY LIFE

 John Marshall was born on September 24, 1755. He was the first child of Thomas Marshall and Mary Randolph Keith. His father was a land surveyor for Lord Fairfax. As a child, John Marshall was home schooled by his father. He also spent his one year at Campbell Academy in Westmoreland Country, with future President of U.S. James Monroe as his classmate.

PERSONAL LIFE

John Marshall married Marry on January 3, 1783, in the home of her cousin, John Ambler. They had 10 children. Polly Marshall has suffered two miscarriages between the birth of her son and daughter and lost two of her infants, which affected her health during the rest of her life. John Marshall loved his Richmond home, built in 1790, and spent much of his time there in quite contentment. After the death of his father Marshall inherited the Oak Hill estate. Marshall also lived in Washington during the court’s annual term. Marshall was not as religious but his grandfather was a priest. He did not believe Jesus was a divine being, and in some of his opinions referred to a deist. He was an active Freemasson and served as Grand Master in Virginia from 1794 to 1795. While in Richmond, Marshall attended St. John’s Church on Church Hill when he led the movement to hire Robert Mills as architect of Monumental Church, which was near his home and rebuilt to commemorate people who died in a theatre fire.

PRACTICE OF LAW

In the year 1780 John Marshall also studied Law by attending lectures of Judge George Wythe’s in the college of William & Marry in Williamsburg, Virginia. In the year the Virginia house 1780 he also admitted to the Virginia bar and started his own legal practice. He built his law practice success by defending clients against the British Creditors who attempted to collect debts.

ROLE IN GOVERNMENT

John Marshall started his career in Government by representing Fauquier County in the General Assembly for a single term. In 1782 he also joined the Virginia houses of Delegates, representing Henrico County.

John Marshall ran for city council in 1785, but came in second and was made city recorder instead. Through this position John Marshall establishes a reputation for being a fair and modest man who communicated clearly. In the year 1788 John Marshall became a delegate to the state convention that had been formed to ratify the United States Constitution. He also replaces the Articles of Confederation with the Constitution.

In 1798 John Marshall was invited to join the U.S. Supreme Court. He agreed to participate in a 1797 diplomatic mission. Marshall was also sent to France to improve relations between the United State and France. Marshall also became known and liked for his slogan, “Millions for defense, but not one cent for tribute”. In 1799 Marshall was elected for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, a position he would hold briefly, a she was appointed secretary of state under President John Adams in 1800. Later in life from the year 1829 to 1830, John Marshall also served as a delegate to the Virginia Constitutional Convention, along with his former Campbell classmate, James Monroe.

LNADMARK CASES

Some of the Landmark cases of the John Marshall:

  • Marbury vs. Madison
  • McCulloch vs. Maryland
  • Cohens vs. Virginia

IMPACT AND LEGACY

John Marshall used Federalist approaches to build a strong Federal Government over the opposition of the Jefersonian Republicans, who wanted stronger State governments. The influential ruling of John Marshall had reshaped American Government, and makes the Supreme Court the final arbiter of constitutional interpretation. Many of the commentators have written concerning Marshall’s contribution to the theory and practice of Judicial Review. Among his one of the followers in the European tradition has been Hans Kelsen for the inclusion of the principle of judicial review in the constitution. The Virginia University has recently placed many volumes of Marshall’s papers online as a searchable digital edition.

DEATH

John Marshall proudly served on the Supreme Court until his death, on July 6, 1835, at the age of 79, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In the year 1831, the 76 year old chief justice travelled to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he underwent an operation to remove bladder stones. In the early year 1835, Marshall again travelled to Philadelphia for medical treatment, where he died on July 6 at the age of 79, having served as chief justice for over 34 years.

The liberty bell was rung during John Marshall funeral procession. Legend says that this was when the bell cracked, never to be rung again. Marshall was buried at the Shockoe cemetery in Richmond, Virginia, next to his wife, Mary Willis Ambler.

Marshall was among the last remaining Founding Fathers and was also the last surviving Cabinet member from the John Adams administration.

Image source: Britanica

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