How and why did the Marshall Court establish the national supremacy of the United States over the governments of the states?

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John Marshall was a Federalist, so he implemented the Federalist vision of the United States as chief justice of the Supreme Court between 1801 and 1835. The Federalist agenda was put forth by the brilliant and mercurial Alexander Hamilton in the 1790s. Hamilton wanted a robust central government which would foster diversified economic development. Federalists were opposed by Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and other Democratic Republicans who wanted a rural nation with a decentralized government. Jefferson feared that a too-powerful central government would become tyrannical.

In McCulloch v. Maryland (1819), Marshall's Supreme Court buttressed the implied powers of the national government. Although the Constitution did not expressly give the national government the power to establish the Bank of the United States, it had the implied power to do so. Maryland had no right to tax the Bank of the United States or impede it in any way.

Gibbons v. Ogden (1824) strengthened the federal government's right to regulate interstate commerce. It overturned a monopoly on steamboat traffic granted by New York. This act would be important as the nation and its commerce expanded during the rest of the nineteenth century.

In another case, Martin v. Mott (1827), the Supreme Court ruled that states could not withhold their militia from national service. New England had opposed the War of 1812, and it did not fully cooperate with the national government during that conflict. Marshall ruled that presidents have complete authority to call upon states to provide militia for national service.

These three cases are among the most important in which Marshall consistently solidified national power at the expense of the states. There were others, however.

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