John Marshall (Dictionary of World Biography: The 19th Century)
Article abstract: During his long tenure as chief justice of the United States Supreme Court, Marshall used his considerable intelligence, personal charm, and political skills to make the Supreme Court the chief arbiter of constitutional doctrine, thereby establishing what had been the weakest branch of the national government as an equal with Congress and the executive.
John Marshall was born September 24, 1755, to Thomas and Mary Randolph Keith Marshall in Germantown (modern Midland), Virginia. He was the eldest of fifteen children. His father was a planter of moderate means who in time became a wealthy leading citizen of Virginia and later of Kentucky, serving in numerous official capacities in both states. Through Mary, the Marshall family was connected to most of the important families of Virginia. Growing to manhood among the landed gentry molded John Marshall’s character, yet his too casual and occasionally sloppy appearance was at odds with his background. John Marshall’s education was a typical blend, for the sons of Southern Colonial gentry, of intermittent and limited formal instruction by tutors in the classics and informal instruction by his parents in reading, writing, and elementary mathematics. The few books in the family library included several on law and served as Marshall’s introduction to the subject; from his family’s participation in state and local government, he learned about...
(The entire section is 2858 words.)
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Marshall, John (West's Encyclopedia of American Law)
John Marshall presided over the U.S. Supreme Court from 1801 to 1835. Appointed by President JOHN ADAMS, Marshall assumed leadership during a pivotal era. The early nineteenth century saw tremendous political battles over the future of the United States and its Constitution, often with the Court at the center of controversy. By the force of personality, argument, and shrewdness, Marshall steered it through this rocky yet formative period. He weathered harsh criticism as the Court set important precedents that increased its power and defined its role in government. Historians credit him with establishing what has been called the American judicial tradition, in which the Supreme Court acts as an independent branch of government endowed with final authority over constitutional interpretation.
Marshall was born September 24, 1755, near Germantown (now Midland), Virginia. He was the son of Thomas Marshall, a wealthy landowner, JUSTICE OF THE PEACE, and sheriff. Like his father he fought in the Revolutionary War and married into a prominent family. His father's tutoring significantly enhanced his mere two years of formal education, which were augmented in 1780 by a brief attendance at lectures in law at the College of William and Mary.
Marshall was also influenced by GEORGE WASHINGTON. Because of his service to General Washington in the war, Marshall became a strong Federalist. He...
(The entire section is 1284 words.)