John Marshal Impact on History

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Did the Supreme Court Under John Marshal have a significant impact on American history? John Marshall was born in 1755. He was the 4th chief justice of the U.S Supreme Court of Virginia for 34 years.  He was a federalist who believed that the U.S should have a powerful central government. Marshall defended the U.S. constitution and did not trust the Jeffersonians because he felt it was his duty to protect the government. Many of his conclusions and decisions were drawn from three major cases, which were: Fletcher vs. Peck, Marbury vs. Madison and McCulloch vs. Maryland.

He had a great impact on getting the people to respect the Supreme Court, which later gave him the nickname Great Chief Justice. He had a great positive impact on the Supreme Court, but mostly on the judicial system. Below I will describe any significant information needed about John Marshall and about some of the major cases.

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The case Marbury vs. Madison was brought to attention by William Marbury. He ordered James Madison to give him his commission as justice of the peace. (Madison was the secretary of the state at the time.) In this case, Marshall favored Marbury. Marshall argued that the court might rule an act of congress unenforceable if the act goes against the constitution. From this Marshall made the Doctrine of Judicial Power.

One of the significant cases Marshall dealt with was the case of McCulloch vs. Maryland. That case occurred in 1819, and showed that Marshall could use the constitution wisely and to his advantage. It is about how Maryland tried to force the Bank of the United States out of its territory by taxing it.

Marshall favored McCulloch and backed him up with the statement that “no state had the right to hinder or control any national institution established within its borders” (quote from article III of the Articles of Confederation). From this, Marshall established the doctrine of judicial view. ( The constitution was very helpful in supporting the federal government for Marshall.

There was also the famous case, of Fletcher vs. Peck in 1810. In this Marshall made the law that states that the Constitution protects against interference from the states. This case was the first time that the court declared a state law unconstitutional. (World Book Encyclopedia, book 13, pg. 230)

In conclusion, I think I think Marshall made a very significant impact on American society while under the Supreme Court. There were many more things that he did to change our country. Some of those helped build freedom of speech, criminal law, civil rights, and many more. Marshall helped make what our country is today. I doubt anyone can look at what he did over his 34 years as a Chief Justice and say he didn’t make a great impact on American history.


  1. (March 1, 2000)
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  3. http://history1700s.about…/aa022198.htm?iam=ask&terms=) (March 1, 2000)
  4. (March 1, 2000) (March 1, 2000)

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