John Marshall: Definer of a Nation

Front Cover
Macmillan, Mar 15, 1998 - Biography & Autobiography - 784 pages
17 Reviews
When, in 1801, John Marshall became Chief Justice of the United States, the Supreme Court was little more than a clause in the Constitution and a gaggle of conflicting opinions. For the next thirty-five years, Marshall was to mold the Court into a major force. Under his leadership, it learned to speak with one voice, becoming a powerful and respected third branch of government. It enunciated the principle of judicial review, established itself as the arbiter of constitutional authority, and affirmed the Constitution as an instrument of the people, not of the states. As a result, the implied powers of the federal government took on definition, the workings of the national government gained authority, and the economic system was made viable through a sophisticated understanding of the commerce clause. In truth, if George Washington founded the nation, John Marshall defined it. But who was this son of yeoman Virginia stock, this soldier who endured the terrible suffering at Valley Forge, this lawyer who was a moving force behind Virginia's ratification of the Constitution, this diplomat who outwitted Talleyrand and thereby raised the profile of a raw young country in the capitals of Europe? Confidant of presidents, friend to the founding fathers, statesman, envoy, and legislator: who was this man who gave up a flourishing legal practice to take on the thankless task of shaping the Court and went on to make it into the institution we see today? Working from primary sources, Jean Edward Smith draws an elegant portrait of this remarkable man. Lawyer, jurist, scholar; soldier, comrade, friend; and, most especially, lover of fine Madeira, good food, and animated table talk: the Marshall whoemerges from this book is as noteworthy for his very human qualities as for his piercing intellect, and perhaps most extraordinary for his talents as a leader of men and a molder of consensus.
  

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Review: John Marshall: Definer of a Nation

User Review  - Lee - Goodreads

An excellent biography of the man who defined the Supreme Court and remains it's most influential Chief Justice. It follows Marshall's career as a soldier in the Continental Army, his life in Virginia ... Read full review

Review: John Marshall: Definer of a Nation

User Review  - Leonard Singer - Goodreads

Very fine history of a remarkable life. Read full review

Contents

Marshalls Virginia Heritage
21
Soldier of the Revolution
37
Student and Suitor
70
Husband Lawyer Legislator
87
The Fight for Ratification
115
At the Richmond Bar
144
Virginia Federalist
169
Mission to Paris The XYZ Affair
192
The Center Holds
327
Treason Defined
348
Yazoo
375
A Band of Brothers
395
National Supremacy
417
Steamboats
446
The Chief Justice and Old Hickory
482
Notes
525

To Congress from Richmond
234
Secretary of State
268
Opinion of the Court
282
The Gathering Storm
296
Marbury v Madison
309
Bibliography
677
Acknowledgments
709
Index
713
Copyright

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About the author (1998)

Jean Edward Smith is professor of political science at the University of Toronto. Among his books are Lucius D. Clay: An American Life, and George Bush's War. He divides his time between Toronto, Mississippi, and New York.

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