John Marshall (1755-1835)

  • John Marshall

Education: College of William and Mary, 1779 (studied law under George Wythe)

Professional Career:

  • Served in the American Revolution, under Washington for three years including the harsh winter of 1777-78 at Valley Forge, 1775-1781
  • Private practice, Virginia, 1780-1797
  • Delegate, Virginia House of Delegates, 1782-1788
  • Member, Virginia Executive Council, 1782-1795
  • Recorder, Richmond City Hustings Court, Virginia, 1785-1788
  • Appointed to American Mission to France, a commission to arbitrate diplomatic affairs with France, 1797-1798 (XYZ Affair)
  • U.S. House of Representatives, 1799-1800
  • President Adams appoints him to U.S. Secretary of State, 1800-1801
  • Appointed Chief justice of the United States, February 4, 1801

Famous Cases:

  • Marbury v. Madison (1803) - Landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision, the first instance in which the high court declared an act of Congress unconstitutional, thus establishing the doctrine of judicial review. The decision upheld the Court's power to review legislation and to overrule acts of Congress and of state legislature that is considered unconstitutional.
  • Fletcher v. Peck (1810) and Dartmouth College v. Woodward (1819) - Established the inviolability of a state's contracts.
  • McCulloch v. Maryland (1819) - Asserted the doctrine of "implied powers" granted Congress by the Constitution. In this case upheld the authority of Congress to create the Bank of the United States.
  • Cohens v. Virginia (1821) - Affirmed the Supreme Court's right to review and overrule a state court on a federal question.
  • Gibbson v. Ogden (1824) - Established the federal government's right to regulate interstate commerce and to override state law in doing so.


Authored: The Life of George Washington (published between 1804 and 1807)

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