John Marshall

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John Marshall is a legendary figure who shaped American constitutional law. Along with the legislature and executive, he was instrumental in elevating the Supreme Court of the United States to a significant institution. He was the leader of the Federalist Party in Virginia and also served in the House of Representatives of the United States of America. He is one of the Supreme Court’s longest-serving Chief Justices and the fourth-longest-serving justice in the court’s history. He was well-versed in the subject as a lawyer and served as a judge for over three decades. He is credited with elevating the American judicial system and establishing it as an autonomous body. He emphasized the superiority of Federal Laws over State Laws. Marshall, one of George Washington’s greatest admirers, also served in the American military during the American Revolutionary War. Marshall, an ardent Federalist, viewed the Constitution as a means of achieving national unity and federal power. He was Chief Justice of the Supreme Court for six Presidents – John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, John Quincy Adams, and Andrew Jackson.

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Childhood & Adolescence

John Marshall was born in Germantown, Virginia, to Thomas Marshall and Mary Randolph Keith. Thomas Marshall was a soldier and politician. He was the eldest brother and sister, with eight sisters and six brothers.

He was primarily educated at home by his father and later attended Campbell Academy for one year. He was completely enamored of George Washington during his adolescent years, and his influence also inspired him to join the military during the American Revolutionary War.

During the American Revolutionary War, he served in the Continental Army as a Lieutenant in the ‘Culpeper Minutemen’ and later as a Lieutenant and then as a Captain in the Eleventh Virginia Continental Regiment.

Following his military service, he attended the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, where he studied law under Chancellor George Wythe.

He was admitted to the bar in 1780 and maintained a private practice in Fauquier County prior to entering politics.

Career of John

He served in the Virginia House of Delegates from 1782 to 1789, when he was re-elected and served for a second term. He was also elected to the Virginia General Assembly’s Council of State.

As a delegate to the Virginia Convention in 1788, he was charged with the responsibility of ratifying or rejecting the United States Constitution’s pointers – he led the fight for ratification.

In 1786, he represented Lord Fairfax’s heirs successfully in ‘Hite v. Fairfax,’ a significant case involving a large tract of land. Additionally, he was involved in the ‘Ware v. Hylton’ case.

He briefly served in the United States House of Representatives in 1799 after being appointed secretary of state by President John Adams.

The Senate confirmed John Marshall’s appointment as chief justice on January 27, 1801, and he received his commission on January 31, 1801.

In 1803, he presided over the seminal ‘Marbury v. Madison’ case, which laid the groundwork for judicial review.

In 1807, he presided over what became known as ‘the Burr trial,’ in which former Vice President Aaron Burr faced charges of ‘treason’ and ‘high misdemeanor. In this case, the jury acquitted the defendant, Burr.

In 1819, he presided over the ‘McCulloch v. Maryland’ case, one of his most illustrious, which resulted in Maryland being prohibited from charging tax.

He presided over the ‘Cohens v. Virginia’ case in 1821. This case was instrumental in establishing parameters for resolving conflicts between local and state laws.

Personal History and Legacies

He married Mary Willis Ambler in 1782 and the couple had ten children. Two of their children died before reaching the age of maturity.

He spent the majority of his life in Richmond, Virginia, where he built his home in 1790. At the age of 76, he underwent surgery to remove bladder stones.

After the death of his wife in 1831, he suffered from a variety of health problems and his mental state deteriorated.

He died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he had traveled for medical treatment, at the age of 79.

He was laid to rest in Richmond, Virginia’s Shockoe Hill Cemetery.

In his honor, the John Marshall Law School was founded in Chicago in 1899. The American Bar Association has accredited the law school. The United States Postal Service issued a postage stamp in his honor on September 24, 1955.

Estimated Net Worth

He co-founded and previously served as president and CEO of AirWatch, which VMware acquired in 2014 for $1.54 billion. He is a co-founder and co-chairman of OneTrust, a software start-up.


While serving in the American military, this American lawyer and Chief Justice enjoyed running races and earned the nickname’silver heels’ after his mother sewn white heels into his stockings.

This US Supreme Court Chief Justice was a great admirer of George Washington and wrote a biography of his hero.