Marshall, John, 1755-1835

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1755-09-24
Death 1835-07-06
Americans
English

Biographical notes:

John Marshall (1755-1835) was born near Germantown, Prince William (currently Fauquier) County, Virginia on 24 September 1755 to parents Thomas Marshall and Mary Randolph Keith. From 1775-1781, Marshall served in the Continental Army and fought in the Revolutionary War. During the spring and summer of 1780, Marshall attended classes at the College of William and Mary and received his license to practice law. After the war, he moved to Richmond, Virginia and began his practice. Marshall married Mary Willis Ambler in 1783. The couple had ten children, six of whom survived to adulthood. He was elected as a delegate to the Virginia House of Delegates in 1780 and 1782-1788. Later, he was appointed by President John Adams to a special commission to France from 1797-1798. The commission, which brought about the famous XYZ affair, failed to settle existing differences between France and the U.S. From 1799-1800, Marshall served as a Federalist representative in the 6th United States Congress. He did not serve out his term however, as he was appointed by Adams to serve as U.S. Secretary of State from 1800-1801. Later, Marshall received yet another appointment from Adams this time to the bench as the fourth chief justice of the Supreme Court. He was confirmed by the Senate on 27 January 1801 and served until his death on 6 July 1835. In addition to hearing 1,215 cases and authoring 514 opinions, Marshall also wrote, The Life of George Washington, a book in 5 volumes. Marshall was buried in New Burying Ground, Richmond, Virginia.

From the guide to the John Marshall Papers, 1771-1959., (Special Collections, Earl Gregg Swem Library, College of William and Mary)

Andrew Reid was Clerk of Rockbridge Co., Va.

From the description of Letter, 1790 April 26. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 122632520

John Marshall, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, corresponds with a colleague, Thomas Smith Grimke, a South Carolinian lawyer and legislator.

From the description of Letter : to Thomas Smith Grimke, 1832 October 6. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 122352156

John Marshall was a Chief Justice of the United States and was elected to the American Philosophical Society in 1830.

From the description of Opinions delivered in the circuit court of the United States, 1803-1831. (American Philosophical Society Library). WorldCat record id: 122523455

American jurist.

From the description of Autograph letter signed : Richmond, to Noah Webster, 1804 Oct. 4. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270606991

Marshall was admitted to the Virginia bar in 1780, and practiced law in Richmond from 1783. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives (1799-1800), U.S. Secretary of State (1800-1801), and Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (1801-1835.)

From the description of Letters, 1822-1834. (Harvard Law School Library). WorldCat record id: 234339443

Marshall served as Secretary of State in 1800 after Thomas Pickering was dismissed in May.

From the description of LS, 1800 December 2 : Department of State, to Samuel Sitgreaves, London. (Copley Press, J S Copley Library). WorldCat record id: 14105193

John Marshall was a leading Virginia attorney with an established practice in Richmond at the time of this letter. "Mr. Randolph" was Colonel Thomas Mann Randolph, Sr., who left an estate much burdened with debts. Patrick Henry collaborated with John Marshall on a number of cases.

From the description of Letter : Richmond, to Patrick Henry, Prince Edward, 1790 August 31. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 122609113

Marshall served as U.S. secretary of state for one year before being appointed chief justice of the Supreme Court, where he served until his death.

From the description of LS, 1800 June 12, Washington, D.C., to Arthur St. Clair, Cincinnati. (Rosenbach Museum & Library). WorldCat record id: 122316899

Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

From the description of Letter, 1803 February 7. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 122611409

Chief justice.

From the description of Complaint of John Marshall [manuscript] 1789. (University of Virginia). WorldCat record id: 647929532

Marshall was Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, 1801-1835.

From the description of [Letter, ca. 1790] Feb. 28, Washington [to] Sir / J. Marshall. (Smith College). WorldCat record id: 287154924

Marshall wrote the five volume Life of Washington.

From the description of ALS, 1834 February 21 : Washington, to John L. Laurance. (Copley Press, J S Copley Library). WorldCat record id: 14105213

Biographical Note

  • 1755, Sept. 24: Born near Germantown, Va.
  • 1755 - 1781 : Military service
  • 1780: Attended law and philosophy lectures at the College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Va. Admitted to the bar, Fauquier County, Va.
  • 1782 - 1784 : Member, Virginia Executive Council
  • 1782 - 1785 : Member, Virginia House of Delegates
  • 1783: Married Mary Willis Ambler
  • 1785 - 1788 : Recorder, city of Richmond, Va.
  • 1787 - 1788 : Member, Virginia House of Delegates
  • 1796: Argued case before the Supreme Court
  • 1797 - 1798 : One of three American envoys to France (XYZ Affair)
  • 1798: Elected to the House of Representatives
  • 1800 - 1801 : Secretary of state
  • 1801 - 1835 : Chief justice of the Supreme Court
  • 1804 - 1807 : Published The Life of George Washington. London: Printed for R. Phillips
  • 1829: Member, Virginia Constitutional Convention
  • 1835, July 6: Died, Philadelphia, Pa.

From the guide to the Albert Jeremiah Beveridge collection of John Marshall papers, 1776-1884, (bulk 1795-1835), (Manuscript Division Library of Congress)

John Marshall was appointed the fourth chief justice of the United States by President John Adams. In the thirty four years he served on the bench, Marshall presided over the Court's evolution into an institution with power equal to both the executive and legislative branches of the Federal Government.

Born on September 24, 1755 in Fauquer County,Virginia, John Marshall was the eldest of Thomas and Mary Randolph Keith Marshall's fifteen children. Educated primarily by his father, except for one year at Campbell Academy in Westmoreland County and a year of study with the parish priest, Marshall gained more from his exposure to the colonial Virginia gentry through his father than any formal education could have provided him. While serving as an officer in the Virginia Line of the Contiental army during the American Revolution, Marshall was able to attend lectures on law and natural philosophy at the College of William and Mary in the spring and summer of 1780. This comprised the extend of Marshall study of the law, but was enough to make him eligible for a law license.

After moving to Richmond, VA in 1784 Marshall quickly became a successful lawyer, practicing in the state's superior courts. Between 1787 and 1788 Marshall was active in the debates over the Constitution, and participated as a delegate to Virginia's ratifying convention of June 1788. Despite requsts to run for Congress or accept a federal appointment, Marshall continued to practice law into the 1790s. Finally in June 1797 Marshall accepted an appointment from President John Adams to a commission charged with settling differences with France. Although the mission failed when the French refused to negotiate until they received a loan and a bribe from the United States, Marshall's handling of what became known as the XYZ Affair proved to be a personal triumph. Marshall continued is career in public service by running for and serving in Congress from December 1799 to May 1800, and accepting the appointment as secretary of state for John Adams in May 1800. At the end of his administration, President Adams chose Marshall to fill the position of chief justice of the Supreme Court.

During Marshall's thirty four year tenure as chief justice, the court evolved into a strong government body through it's use of judicial review. In rulings such as Maurbury v. Madison and McCulloch v. Maryland, the Marshall Court established the Constitution as the supreme law of the land, as well as the Courts role as interpreter of the Constitution. Equally significant was Marshall's leadership of the court, being open to the opinions and views of his associate justices to bring about a unified opinion from the Court. As part of his duties as a Supreme Court Justice, Marshall also presided over the Fourth Circuit Court of the United States, which heard cases in Richmond, VA and Raleigh, NC.

Despite failing health as he approached 75, Marshall remained sharp intellectually, and continued his judicial duties. In 1831 Marshall travelled to Philadelphia to undergoe succesful surgery to remove a bladder stone. Four years later, he would return to the city to seek medical treatment for a liver ailment. This time the chief justice was not as fortunate, and died in Philadelphia on July 6, 1835.

From the guide to the Opinions delivered in the circuit court of the United States, 1803-1831, (American Philosophical Society)

John Marshall was born to Thomas Marshall and Mary Randolph Keith on September 24, 1755, near Germantown, Virginia. Thomas Marshall was a foremost a planter, but also held roles as surveyor, justice of the peace, and sheriff. The eldest of 15 children, John Marshall was primarily educated by his father, who taught him poetry, history, and other subjects.

During the Revolutionary War, Marshall served first as a lieutenant in the Culpeper Minute Men (1775-1776), then as a lieutenant in the 11th Virginia Continental Regiment (1776-1780). He fought in the battles of Brandywine Creek, Germantown, Monmouth, and Stony Point, and was present at Valley Forge during the winter of 1777-1778. In 1780, he interrupted his military service in order to acquire some rudiments of a formal legal education from George Wythe at the College of William and Mary, and was admitted to the bar in the same year. He married Mary "Polly" Willis Ambler in 1783, and they had ten children, six of whom survived to maturity.

Marshall was elected to the House of Delegates in 1782 and served as a delegate to Virginia's ratifying convention in 1788. During this time, he maintained his lucrative law practice in Richmond, Virginia. After turning down several federal positions, in 1797, he accepted an appointment by John Adams to a commission formed to smooth over relations with France. His dispatches describing the corruptness of the French foreign minister gained him great popularity, which helped him secure a seat in the 6th Congress (1799-1800). In 1800, John Adams appointed Marshall Secretary of State, followed by an appointment as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court on January 27, 1801. During his long tenure, the court decided over 1,100 cases, and Marshall authored the opinions in 519 of these. Among the numerous influential cases that Marshall helped to decide were Marbury v. Madison, McCulloch v. Maryland, Cohens v. Virginia, Worcester v. Georgia, and Gibbons v. Ogden. Marshall died July 6, 1835, at the age of 79.

From the guide to the John Marshall autobiography, Marshall, John autobiography, 1827, (William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan)

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Occupations:

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Places:

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