John Marshall Biography

(Former Chief Justice)

Birthday: September 24, 1755 (Libra)

Born In: Germantown

John Marshall is the legendary figure who played a crucial role in shaping the American Constitutional law. He was responsible for making the Supreme Court of the United States an important institution along with legislature and executive. He was the leader of the Federalist Party in Virginia and also served in the United States House of Representatives. He is one of the longest serving Chief Justices and the fourth longest-serving justice in the history of the US Supreme Court. As a lawyer, he was well-versed in the subject and played a dominant role as a judge for over a period of three decades. He is credited with elevating the position of the American judicial system and making it an independent body. He stressed on the importance of Federal Laws over State Laws. One of the greatest admirers of George Washington, Marshall also served in the American military during the American Revolutionary War. As an immensely loyal Federalist, Marshall saw the Constitution as an instrument of national unity and federal power. He served as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court during the administrations of six Presidents - John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson.
Quick Facts

Died At Age: 79


Spouse/Ex-: Mary Willis Ambler

father: Thomas Marshall

mother: Mary Isham Keith

children: Charles, Edward, Jacquelin, James, John, Mary, Thomas

Quotes By John Marshall Chief Justices

political ideology: Federalist

Died on: July 6, 1835

place of death: Philadelphia

Notable Alumni: College Of William And Mary

More Facts

education: College of William and Mary

  • 1

    What is John Marshall known for?

    John Marshall is known for being the longest-serving Chief Justice of the United States, serving from 1801 to 1835.

  • 2

    What impact did John Marshall have on the Supreme Court?

    John Marshall had a significant impact on the Supreme Court by establishing the principle of judicial review and strengthening the role of the judiciary in interpreting the Constitution.

  • 3

    What was John Marshall's stance on federal power?

    John Marshall was a proponent of federal power and believed in a strong central government, as evidenced by his decisions in cases such as McCulloch v. Maryland.

  • 4

    How did John Marshall contribute to American legal history?

    John Marshall made significant contributions to American legal history by shaping the principles of constitutional law and establishing the authority of the Supreme Court as the final arbiter of the Constitution.

  • 5

    What were some key Supreme Court cases during John Marshall's tenure?

    Some key Supreme Court cases during John Marshall's tenure include Marbury v. Madison, McCulloch v. Maryland, and Gibbons v. Ogden, which established important precedents in constitutional law and federal power.

Childhood & Early Life
John Marshall was born in Germantown, Virginia, to Thomas Marshall, soldier and politician and Mary Randolph Keith. He was the eldest of eight sisters and six brothers.
He was mostly home-schooled by his father and later attended the Campbell Academy for a period of one year.
During his teenage years, he was completely enamoured by George Washington, whose influence also inspired him to join the military during the American Revolutionary War.
From 1775 to 1776, he served in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War as a Lieutenant in the ‘Culpeper Minutemen’ and later served as a Lieutenant and then as a Captain in the Eleventh Virginia Continental Regiment.
After his military service, he studied law under Chancellor George Wythe in Williamsburg, Virginia, at the College of William and Mary.
In 1780, he was officially admitted to the bar and owned private practice in Fauquier County, before entering politics.
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From 1782 to 1789, he served in the Virginia House of Delegates after which he was elected again and served there for the second term. He was also elected to serve on the Council of State in The Virginia General Assembly.
In 1788, as a delegate at the Virginia Convention, he was assigned the task to ratify or reject pointers in the United States Constitution - he led the fight for ratification.
In 1786, he successfully represented the heirs of Lord Fairfax in ‘Hite v. Fairfax’, which was an important case involving a large tract of land. He was also involved in the ‘Ware v. Hylton’ case.
In 1799, he served at the U.S. House of Representatives for a brief period after being appointed the secretary of state under President, John Adams.
The appointment of John Marshall as the chief justice was confirmed by the Senate on January 27, 1801, and he received his commission on January 31, 1801.
In 1803, he presided over the landmark ‘Marbury v. Madison’ case, which established the basis of judicial review.
In 1807, he presided over ‘the Burr trial’ of former Vice president Aaron Burr who was charged with ‘treason’ and ‘high misdemeanour’. The jury acquitted the defendant, Burr in the case.
In 1819, he presided over the ‘McCulloch v. Maryland’ case, which was one of his most notable cases, after which Maryland was not permitted to charge tax.
In 1821, he presided over the ‘Cohens v. Virginia’ case. This case played a major role in establishing parameters in case of conflicting local and state laws.
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Personal Life & Legacy
In 1782, he married Mary Willis Ambler and the couple had ten children together. Two of their children died before they reached adulthood.
He spent most part of his life in his home in Richmond, Virginia that he constructed in 1790.
He was operated for the removal of bladder stones at the age of 76.
In 1831, his wife passed away and thereafter he suffered from several health problems and his mental situation also deteriorated.
He died at the age of 79, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where he had travelled to take medical treatment. He was laid to rest at the Shockoe Hill Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia.
In 1899, The John Marshall Law School was set up in Chicago in his honour. The law school is accredited by the American Bar Association. On September 24, 1955, the United States Postal Service issued a postage stamp in his honour.
Facts About John Marshall

John Marshall was an avid horseback rider and enjoyed spending time outdoors, often exploring the countryside near his home.

Marshall had a great sense of humor and was known for his witty remarks and clever comebacks in social settings.

Despite his busy schedule as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Marshall made time to mentor and support young lawyers, offering guidance and encouragement to those starting out in the legal profession.

Marshall had a passion for gardening and took pride in cultivating a variety of plants and flowers in his own garden, which he tended to personally.

Marshall had a love for music and often played the violin to relax and unwind after a long day of deliberating on important legal cases.


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