John Marshall

John Marshall as a United States’ Leader

October 21, 2021 by Essay Writer

Raised from humble beginnings, John Marshall proved to be a powerful leader in U.S. history through his pivotal rulings in the Supreme Court. A staunch Federalist, Marshall pushed for a strong federal government, a scary and ill fated thought to many Americans. The early 1800’s was a period of vulnerability for the United States, a fledgling country full of free spirits and high hopes. It was crucial that the decisions of the founding fathers would lay essential groundwork to establish a strong federal government. Marshall served as the Chief of Justice for over three decades, and was a major player in laying down and developing the basis for the American legal system. Marshall’s rulings in Supreme Court have shaped America’s government for over two centuries.

Marbury v. Madison (1803) was John Marshall’s first important case. The case itself is trivial, however what resulted from the case has influenced the U.S. government ever since. For the first time in U.S. history, the Supreme Court struck down a law as unconstitutional. As a result, Marshall introduced judicial review, a doctrine that allows the Supreme Court to examine the constitutionality of a law and decide whether to keep or discard it. Firstly, this was a major step in establishing what the role of the Supreme Court was in the U.S. government. Secondly, by implementing judicial review into the American legal system, Marshall increased the power of the judicial branch, and restricted the executive and legislative branches’ powers. This is one of the greatest rulings in political history because without judicial review, the executive branch would be omnipotent and the fears of the first American people would have been realized. Judicial review is still widely used by the Supreme Court; it was a huge factor in resolving the Watergate Scandal.

The second major case, McCulloch v. Maryland (1819), declared the Bank of the United States constitutional. It was argued that the Alexander Hamilton’s national bank was illegal because the constitution did not specifically allow for one. Marshall proclaimed that something did not have to be directly stated in the Constitution to be legal, and therefore introduced the elastic clause. The elastic clause stated that because the constitution could be interpreted in many different ways, the constitution could not be followed verbatim. It was important because the founding fathers realized they could not foresee the future, and therefore could not make set rules. The elastic clause allowed for the federal government to be built on flexibility so that future leaders could make their own rules according to the immediate situation. The establishment of the national bank was a tremendous step in U.S. commerce because it the centralized the national economy and therefore helped to pay off the debt left over from the Revolutionary War. The elastic clause is still one of the most powerful clauses in the American legal system, especially for Congress.

Marshall’s last major case, Gibbons v. Ogden (1824), regarded the power of the federal government to regulate interstate shipping. New York had originally given a monopoly to certain ships to sail between New York and New Jersey, however Marshall proved that federal law could overturn this monopoly. This ruling was the first practice of the Interstate Commerce Clause. It was another win for the federal government, and made the federal government more powerful while taking away power from the state governments. This was a consequential decision; it ended state monopolies that inhibited economic growth. Gibbons v. Ogden showed the federal government’s support of capitalism and a free market economy. If the decision to end state monopolies had not been made, the national economy would not have been able to relieve its debt, and it would be filled with corrupt state monopolies.

Throughout his career as Chief of Justice, John Marshall repeatedly pushed for the national government over the state government. Marshall, a strong proponent for balance within the federal government, was able to establish the role of the judiciary branch with the rest of the federal government. The introduction of judicial review, the elastic clause, and the Interstate Commerce Clause to the judiciary branch greatly improved the stability of the government, and has continued to impact the American legal system. Because of Marshall’s decisions in Supreme Court and his vision of a federal government that supported and protected its people, the beginning of the U.S. national government was peaceful and effective. Marshall’s rulings were a huge benefactor in establishing a secure government that was not temporary, but long lasting.

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Timeline of American Politics During the 1790’s

October 21, 2021 by Essay Writer

 American politics have always been a heavily debated topic. The government has been shaped by different views ever since its creation. During the administrations of George Washington and John Adams, the young country faced many domestic and foreign problems that would shape its future. By 1790, America had accumulated a large foreign debt, prompting the creation of the First National Bank. In addition, conflicts had arisen between America and Europe.

The British had begun seizing American ships in French ports, resulting in a treaty that would end up fueling a conflict with France, but the conflict didn’t stop there. Deep divisions had started forming within the US. Following the creation and ratification of the Constitution in the late 1780s, many divisions and factions began to emerge in the young country. The country had split into pro-constitution Federalist and Anti-Federalist. As certain factions gained more power, political parties began to erupt in the United States. To keep America in one piece, the government had to make many changes. The formation of a Bill of Rights was used to help unify the divided country. However, the early government’s Federalist party under George Washington still saw heavy opposition from the new Democratic-Republican Party, founded by James Madison and Thomas Jefferson.

The 1790s had begun with a major victory for the young government; however, success was far from guaranteed. Following the ratification of the Constitution, the power of the United States government had been increased tremendously. Compared to the previous Articles of Confederation, the US Constitution had given the government a much stronger role. The US government now had power over separate state governments, and the ability to enforce the previously ignored tax collections. This radical new change in the government was supported by a powerful group of people known as the federalists.

Although George Washington disapproved of factions, he and Alexander Hamilton were considered major contributors to the party. The Federalist Party believed in a strong central government with fiscal roots. The party mostly consisted of the wealthier class of citizens, and many of them wished for a stable economy in the US. Throughout the decade, the Federalist party supported the repayment of Revolutionary war debts, better treatment of US shipping, a strong tariff system, and especially the creation of a central bank. With their current position in power, the Federalist Party sought to accomplish their goals. The Federalist party’s saw its success under the Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton. Alexander Hamilton was a West Indies-born New York lawyer and a former army officer. (Wilentz 55) He was convinced that the constitution did not guarantee the survival of the new government. Following the Revolutionary War, France, Spain, and Amsterdam sought to collect the money that the new country owed it for their help.

Throughout the Revolutionary War, America accumulated about two million dollars worth of foreign debt. (U. S. Debt and Foreign Loans, 1775–1795) Hamilton believed that if they were unable to pay off their foreign debt, the country would not be able to receive loans in the future, or even worse, the countries they owed money to would try to take matters into their own hands, destroying the young country. Hamilton wrote in Federalist 30, “that without an eligible mode of supplying public wants, the government must sink into a fatal atrophy, and, in a short time, perish”. (Wilentz 55) Hamilton’s solution to this problem was the National Bank. The Bank acted as the federal government’s fiscal agent. The bank was responsible for collecting tax revenues, securing the government’s funds, making loans to the government, transferring government deposits through the bank’s branch network, and paying the government’s bills. The bank also managed the US Treasury’s interest payments to European investors, establishing the US as a reliable investment. (Hill)

Even though Hamilton’s bank was created to help the United States, it did see resistance in the government. Hamilton’s once long-time friend, James Madison, argued that the National Bank was unconstitutional. Jefferson argued that the Constitution did not grant the government the authority to establish corporations, including a national bank. James Madison was also afraid that a national bank would create a financial monopoly. He believed that the national bank would undermine state banks and adopt policies that favored financiers and merchants of the north, over the plantation owners and family farmers of the south. (Hill) However, even with this opposition, George Washington approved Hamilton’s proposal establishing the first national bank of the United States. The creation of a stable national bank was a major victory for both the country and its interest in foreign affairs. Even so, America’s foreign relationships we’re far from stable.

While economic relations in the United States were getting better, political relations with America’s old ally were crumbling. Tensions with Britain were high after the Revolutionary War. Following the Treaty of Paris in 1783, Britain continued to create challenges for the young country. British exports continued to flood U. S. markets, while American exports were blocked by British trade restrictions and tariffs. The British had also continued to occupy northern forts that the British Government had agreed to vacate in the Treaty of Paris. (John Jay’s Treaty, 1794–95) Even so, relations didn’t drop dramatically until The French Revolution. The French Revolution is 1793 had led to war between France and Britain. Originally the United States aided its old ally France by sending naval and military supplies to the country. However, when Britain began to seize neutral American ships heading to their enemies ports, the US and Britain came close to the brink of war. Fearing the repercussions of a war with Britain, President George Washington sided with Alexander Hamilton’s plan to relieve tensions and increase trade with Britain and sent pro-British Chief Justice John Jay to negotiate with the British Government.

However, when Jay went to Britain he didn’t have much to bargain with. The only thing he could offer was that the United States would not join the Danish and the Swedish governments in defending their neutral status and resisting British seizure of their goods by force of arms. (John Jay’s Treaty, 1794–95) However, Hamilton had already contacted Britain independently stating that America had no intention of doing this, leaving Jay with very little leverage to make Britain comply with US demands. At the end of the day, the treaty was much more beneficial for Britain than for America. The only goals that Jay obtained was a surrender of the northwestern posts and a commercial treaty with Great Britain that granted the United States most favored nation status, but seriously restricted U. S. commercial access to the British West Indies. (Longley) The treaty had delayed war with Britain for the time being, but France was outraged. France believed that the Jay’s Treaty had violated earlier treaties between the United States and Britain.

In response, France went on to seize a substantial number of American merchant ships. (Nix) In 1797, President John Adams sent a three-person delegation to restore peace between the two countries. Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, John Marshall and Elbridge Gerry tried to meet with France’s foreign minister, Charles de Talleyrand. The foreign minister refused to meet them and eventually had three agents inform the U. S. commissioners that in order to see him they would have to pay him a hefty bribe and provide France with a large loan. The United States became outraged and a cry for war spread across the Nation. When Congress asked to see the diplomats’ reports regarding what had happened in France, Adams handed them over with the names of the French agents replaced with the letters X, Y and Z, dubbing it the XYZ Affair. (Nix) In response, congress prepared for war. Congress had authorized the creation of a Navy, and the construction of warships.

Then, in July 1798, congress authorized American ships to attack French vessels, launching an undeclared naval war that came to be referred to as the Quasi-War. The United States had commissioned 25 ships, including 3 warships to combat France. The USS Congress, the USS Chesapeake, and the USS President patrolled the southern coast of the United States and the Caribbean, hunting down French privateers. The hostilities would not be settled until the Convention of 1800, also known as the Treaty of Mortefontaine, which was ratified in 1801.

The John Jay Treaty had indirectly led to the creation of an official US Navy and an unofficial war with France. Meanwhile, as the United States international conflicts shaped the countries forign policies, conflict within the country would lead to major changes that would affect the country forever.

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John Marshall’s Ruling in Protecting Contract Sanctity and Today’s Influence

October 21, 2021 by Essay Writer

John Marshall: Early Decisions Influencing Today

How can the basic principles of one man be guidelines in the Supreme Court’s major ruling decisions? John Marshall, a man with no formal college education, was Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Under his authority the Supreme Court established many of the most fundamental principles of American Constitutional law. Marshall’s basic principles of protecting the sanctity of contracts, strengthening the federal government, and protecting free enterprise from state control are seen established in many of the cases in which he ruled.

One of John Marshall’s motives was to protect the sanctity of contracts. Such principle is seen in the case of Dartmouth College vs. Woodward in 1819. In that case, the state of New Hampshire sought to take control over the private institution of Dartmouth College, for it was established by the charter of which their former ruler King George signed. The Supreme Court, however, ruled that that charters are legal contracts and therefore inviolable. As he said, it “enables a corporation to manage its own affairs and to hold property”. John Marshall also stated that “it is a contract for the security and disposition of property”. Thus, John Marshall’s protection of the sanctity of contracts was enforced through the Dartmouth College vs. Woodward case as he secured the charter written for the college.

Chief Justice John Marshall was also guided by his principle of strengthening the federal government. In the case of Marbury vs. Madison in 1803, in which Madison refused to deliver federal-appointed Justice of the Peace, William Marbury’s, commission was not delivered, Marshall claimed the “powers of the Legislature are defined and limited”. In this statement, he enforces his idea that court has the power to review acts, thus, strengthening the national government at the expense of state legislatures. Additionally, in the United States vs. Peters case of 1809, Marshall proclaimed, “legislature of a state cannot annul the judgments, nor determine the jurisdiction, of the courts of the United States”. There, John Marshall again established the principle that the Supreme Court has final jurisdiction, not state legislatures. Consequently, the federal government is responsible for final decisions.

Lastly, John Marshall’s ruling were guided by the principle of protecting free enterprise from state control. For instance, in the McCulloch vs. Maryland case in 1819, the state of Maryland sought to tax the Bank of the United States, which of course did not want to pay the tax. In his ruling, Marshall stated, “the power delegated to the State sovereignties were to be exercised by themselves, not by a distinct and independent sovereignty created by themselves”. In that trial, Marshall did not appeal to the idea that a state tax a national institution. In addition, in the Gibbons vs. Ogden case of 1921, where new York attempted to regulate interstate commerce in the Hudson River, Marshall ruled, “ the power to regulate commerce…is exclusively bested in Congress, and no part of it can be exercised by a state”. Therefore, John Marshall enforced his principle of protecting free enterprise from state control.

Chief justice John marshall stood very firm in his rulings, doing so according to his guiding principles. Among them were the protection of the sanctity of contracts, strengthening of the federal government, and protection of free enterprise from state control. All have been fundamental motives that even now the Supreme Court is guided by. Such was the influence of the man named John Marshall. A man who did not even have formal college education.

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