John Marshall was the fourth Supreme Court of Justice in America. His revolutionary changes helped create the justice system that we still see in the United States to this day.
John Marshall contributed a lot more than just his work in the courtroom though. Let’s take a look at ten interesting facts about John Marshall.
John Marshall Facts
1. John Marshall was born in 1755
John Marshall was born in Germantown, Virginia on September 24, 1755. He was born into humble beginnings and spent his early years living in a log cabin. His father came into some money when Marshall was in his teens and the family were then able to move onto a much larger estate. John was the eldest of his parent’s 14 children.
Due to their location, John was not able to attend school and he received most of his early education from his father. He also received some tutoring from a local priest during his teenage years.
2. Marshall was in the military during the American Revolutionary War
The American Revolutionary War started in 1755. An interesting fact about John Marshall is that he was 20 years old at this time and he joined up with the Culpeper Minute Men as a Lieutenant. He would go on to join the Continental Army where he fought in several important battles.
It was during this war that John Marshall would first become inspired by George Washington. Marshall’s father was close friends with Washington and this led to Marshall feeling particularly inspired by Washington’s leadership and strength of personality.
3. He wrote a biography about George Washington
John Marshall was greatly inspired by George Washington and so when he was asked to write a biography of him, he was more than happy to do so. The book, entitled The Life of George Washington, had its first two volumes released in 1803 and it was the first biography to be written about a US President.
A lot of people were quick to criticise the book at the time, with many stating it was incredibly critical of the Republican Party. Since then, however, it has been largely praised and many historians and scholars see it as one of the most accurate books about the life of Washington.
4. John Marshall married once and had ten children
John Marshall met Mary “Polly” Ambler during the American Revolutionary War and the two would soon start dating afterwards. They got married in 1783 and would go on to have 10 children together.
While they lived a mostly happy life together, there was some heartache along the way. Polly suffered from two miscarriages and two of the couple’s children died as infants. Only six of their ten children would survive into adulthood.
5. He was the fourth Cheif Justice of the United States
John Marshall is most famous for his time as Chief Justice of the United States. He was first appointed as Chief Justice by John Adams in 1801. An interesting fact about John Marshall is that his tenure as Chief Justice is one of the most influential in the history of the United States and he is widely regarded as one of the important people to ever take the role.
He would serve as Chief Justice for 34 years until his death in 1831.
6. Marshall oversaw the Madbury vs Madison ruling
John Marshall oversaw many significant changes during his time as Chief Justice. One of his most significant contributions came when he oversaw the Madbury vs Madison ruling.
The case is often viewed as one of the most important in the history of America as it was the first time that the Supreme Court ruled a law made by congress as unconstitutional. This effectively made the Supreme Court the third branch of the American Government, making them work as a way of checking the laws that were ruled by congress.
7. John Marshall had a successful early political career
Before he became the Chief Justice of the United States, John Marshall had been successful in the world of American politics as well. After becoming a lawyer in 1780, Marshall was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in 1782.
An interesting John Marshall fact is that he made quite an impression during this period and was elected to the US House of Representatives in 1789. It was here that caught the attention of John Adams and he would only serve in the office for a year before being given the role of Chief Justice.
8. He had a complicated relationship with slavery
John Marshall openly declared that slavery was evil and would regularly defend slaves in court for no financial reward. He also once allowed a third of a slave slip to go free and return to Africa.
Despite this, Marshall himself owned slaves and while it is said that he treated them very well, it is also argued that by owning slaves and taking part in the buying and selling of slaves, that he was actively supporting the slave trade and all of the connotations and issues that came attached with it.
9. Marshall has had many monuments and memorials dedicated to him
John Marshall is one of the most important people in the history of the American justice system and as such, there are various monuments and memorials dedicated to him all over America.
His home in Richmond, Virginia, has been preserved and is now considered as a museum and a monument to him. He has also been represented on US treasury notes at various points during the past, an interesting John Marshall fact.
There are communities named after Marshall in West Virginia, Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, and Michigan. He also has a bronze statue of him wearing his judicial robes in the American Supreme Court Building.
10. John Marshall died in 1831
In 1831, six months after the death of his beloved wife, Polly, John Marshall passed away on July 6th. He was 76 years old and at the time of his death had been Cheif Justice for 34 years. He had died from complications from surgery that he had to remove some bladder stones.
Marshall’s death was largely mourned across America and the Liberty Bell was rang out when he died. One tale has it that this was the last time the bell was ever rung as it broke soon afterwards.
John Marshall’s constant fight for justice has seen him earn his place among the most influential Americans of all time.
Thanks to the changes he made, the American democracy and court system has continued to flourish until this day.
I hope that this article on John Marshall facts was helpful. If you are interested, visit the Historical People Facts Page!