Widely regarded as America’s most important Chief Justice, John Marshall influenced our constitutional, political, and economic development as much as any American. He handed down landmark decisions on judicial review, federal-state relations, contracts, corporations, and commercial regulation during a thirty-four year tenure that encompassed five presidencies, a second war of independence, the demise of the first American party system, and the advent of Jacksonianism and market capitalism. This is the first interpretive study of Marshall’s early life that emphasizes the formative influences on him before he joined the Court. By that time his character and attitudes were fully formed through his childhood in the Virginia gentry, his service in the state militia and Continental Army, and his work as a prominent lawyer, a Federalist, and a diplomat.
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