The life of John Marshall, founding father and America's premier chief justice.
In 1801, a genial and brilliant Revolutionary War veteran and politician became the fourth chief justice of the US. He would hold the post for 34 years (still a record), expounding the Constitution he loved. Before he joined the Court, it was the weakling of the federal government, lacking in dignity and clout. After he died, it could never be ignored again.
Through three decades of dramatic cases involving businessmen, scoundrels, Native Americans, and slaves, Marshall defended the federal government against unruly states, established the Supreme Court's right to rebuke Congress or the president, and unleashed the power of American commerce. For better and for worse, he made the Supreme Court a pillar of American life.
In John Marshall, award-winning biographer Richard Brookhiser vividly chronicles America's greatest judge and the world he made.
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"Richard Brookhiser brings his deep knowledge of the American founding, his appreciation for history's crisscrossing patterns, and his signature minimalist style to America's greatest chief justice. His book is also timely. For John Marshall's seminal conviction was that we were a single people, and that government was not 'them' but 'us.'" (Joseph J. Ellis, author of American Dialogue: The Founders and Us)
"Brookhiser's John Marshall is an erudite and elegant tour through not only the great chief justice's life, but the beginnings of the United States and the nation's Supreme Court. With colorful portraits of members of the founding generation, and clear and insightful descriptions of the legal cases that that shaped the American legal system, this book is a welcome contribution to the scholarship on the Early American Republic." (Annette Gordon-Reed, coauthor of Most Blessed of the Patriarchs)
"Richard Brookhiser is a master of the interpretive biography, and his incisive portrait of John Marshall couldn't be more timely. The Supreme Court stands at the middle of the American political arena, and Marshall is the man who put it there." (H.W. Brands, author of Heirs of the Founders)