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Chief Justice Marshall

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The article "Chief Justice Marshall Takes the Law in Hand", by Wernick discusses how Marshall and Jefferson, mainly Marshall " took separate and independent actions ensuring that a nation, one and indivisible, would eventually result". This article simply clarifies the truth to us about what kind of nation was brought up by two men who detested each other. This article brings us back to the early 1800's where the first sight of nationhood came into the hands of these two different men. In February of 1803, the Supreme Court declared for the first time a law unconstitutional that had been passed by congress and passed by the President. This was the decision given in the case called Marbury vs. Madison. After this famous case Jefferson went over what were pretty much the Presidents power by buying Louisiana from Bonaparte for $15 million. Marshall remains as "austere and shadowy figure" (Wernick, 114) who is remembered pretty much only for writing many brilliant decisive decisions. Two books about Marshall bring him to life as a talented and appealing figure. Jefferson and Marshall were second cousins once removed but their opinions were completely different. Jefferson was a slaveholding aristocrat born to wealth and Marshall was simply a self-made man. Jefferson was ambassador to France and Marshall played a big role in ratifying the constitution. ...read more.


(Wernick, 116) Jefferson knew the fact that the President could make treaties could be stretched out enough to say it was legal to ass 828,000 square miles of territory. If this was true than other phrases in Constitution could be made to mean many things. After this the Jefferson and Congress put this issue away. After the war of 1812 Congress had voted to spend federal money in internal improvements, which included building roads and digging canals. Madison vetoed the bill and said, "The power to regulate commerce among several states, cannot include a power to construct roads and canals, and to improve the navigation of water-courses in order to facilitate, improve, and secure such a commerce.... To refer the power in question to the clause 'to provide for the common defense and general welfare' would be contrary to the established and consistent rules of interpretation." (Wernick, 117) Case after case Marshall kept cutting away at the theory of state rights. Jefferson had nothing else to do now except look as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, who was appointed for life did his job. Marshall and his court gained "Judicial Prestige" because they established the judicial branch of the government as the umpire of disputes between the conflicting powers of the state and federal governments. ...read more.


This article fits greatly into its time period. This article helps learn how two men that were completely opposites in opinion came up to form such a great nation. This article helps me learn about many cases that were judged by probably the most important Chief Justice who ever served. These cases were important to the United States being that it shaped our nation greatly. This article gives background information that is more detailed and tells us really what happened back in time. This article has no historiographical debate because everything Wernick uses is fact. Wernick tells us how Marshall rules his cases in favor of the Federal Government and never is there an argument. All he gives us is facts about the cases and also the life of Marshall and Jefferson. In Conclusion, Marshall and Jefferson where two men who were completely different but yet shaped this nation greatly. Marshall took the law pretty much into his own hands once he was appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Jefferson would get mad about what Marshall did for the fact that they had different opinions and believed in different things. In pretty much all of Marshall's decisions he favored the Federal Government. Those cases in favor for the Federal Government include Fletcher vs. Peck, McCulloch vs. Maryland and many more. These two men will always be a part of history and especially because even though they didn't work together they accomplished many great things that helped and keep helping the nation today. ...read more.

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