- NAME: John Marshall
- OCCUPATION: Supreme Court Justice, Political Leader
- BIRTH DATE: September 24, 1755
- DEATH DATE: July 06, 1835
- EDUCATION: Campbell Academy, College of William & Mary
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Fauquier County (near Germantown), Virginia
- PLACE OF DEATH: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- AKA: Chief Justice John Marshall
- AKA: Justice John Marshall
Best Known For
John Marshall became the fourth chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court in 1801. He is largely responsible for establishing the Supreme Court's role in federal government.
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Chief Justice John Marshall was born on September 24, 1755, near Germantown, Virginia. In 1780, Marshall started his own law practice, defending clients against pre-war British creditors. From 1782 to 1795, he held various political offices, including the position of secretary of state in 1800. In 1801, he became chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, serving until his death, on July 6, 1835, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
"Congress has a right to punish murder in a fort, or other place within its exclusive jurisdiction; but no general right to punish murder committed within any of the States."
"There, Story; that is the law of this case; now go and find the authorities."
Chief Justice John Marshall was born on September 24, 1755, in rural Fauquier County, near Germantown on the Virginia frontier. He was the first of 15 children born to Thomas Marshall and Mary Randolph Keith. His father was a land surveyor for Lord Fairfax, and made a tidy income; his cousin was Humphrey Marshall, who would later become a U.S. senator for Kentucky. John Marshall and his father were descendents of colonist William Randolph, who had helped establish the Commonwealth of Virginia.
As a child, Marshall was mainly home-schooled by his father. He did, however, spend one year at Campbell Academy (founded by Reverend Archibald Campbell) in Westmoreland County, with future U.S. President James Monroe as his classmate.
A major influence on Marshall during his teen years was General George Washington, a friend of Thomas Marshall. Marshall admired Washington; when the American Revolutionary War broke out, Washington inspired Marshall, then 20 years old, to join the military so that he could take part in forming the new nation. Marshall was appointed lieutenant with a state militia called the Culpeper Minuteman, which was later absorbed by the Continental Army's 11th Regiment of Virginia. The Patriot militia achieved victory against the British Royal Army at the Battle of Great Bridge, freeing Virginia from British rule.
Following the militia's victory, Marshall became an officer with the Continental Army's 3rd Regiment of Virginia, serving under Colonel Morgan. Marshall proved his bravery and fortitude during the Battle of Brandywine, where he fought relentlessly from dawn to dusk. At the Battle of Germantown, he was wounded in the hand while leading a charge. At Valley Forge, George Washington appointed Marshall his chief legal officer.
In 1780, while stationed at Oak Hill, Marshall took leave on furlough, and went to visit his father who was stationed in Yorktown. In Yorktown, Marshall met his future wife, Mary Willis Ambler, daughter of the Virginia treasurer. Marshall left the military in 1780 to study law.
In 1780, Marshall studied law by attending a series of Judge George Wythe's lectures at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia—the only formal legal education that Marshall would receive—and soon obtained a firm grasp on English common law. That same year, he was admitted to the Virginia bar and began his own legal practice. He built his law practice's success by defending clients against British creditors who attempted to collect debts incurred during British colonial rule, prior to the American Revolution.
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