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The remarkable story of John Marshall who as chief justice statesman and diplomat shaped the foundation of the United StatesNo member of America's Founding Generation had a greater impact on the Constitution and the Supreme Court than John Marshall and no one did to preserve the delicate unity of the fledgling United States From the nation's founding in 1776 and for the next forty years Marshall was at the center of every political battle As Chief Justice of. In my years of reading American history I have always found biographies of the Founding Fathers of greatest interest to me Not only were these men full of grit and determination in the face of their British oppressors but their decisions proved to be some of the most important for the new America many of which are still held firmly in the political system today While the Fathers worked to create the central document of rules and limitations The US Constitution this was only part of the rules that would govern the country for over two centuries Joel Richard Paul effectively argues throughout this tome that the Rule of Law was central to a strong republic and no man helped shape that legal tenet than John Marshall soldier politician diplomat and long serving Chief of the United States Supreme Court Paul s detailed biography not only helps the reader better understand early America but also its growth through important legal and political decisions that came from the Court Not only was Marshall an essential part of early American jurisprudence but his ability to create conformity amongst the Justices of the Court proved not only that he was persuasive in his positions but also worked to show the American public that the law can and should supersede political divisions Paul s thoroughness in presenting much of Marshall s life serves not only to educate the reader but help provide a better understanding of America s early steps toward being a country based on an enshrined set of laws Paul spends the first half of the book laying the groundwork for the great legal career of John Marshall Unlike some modern men those who would one day be given the moniker Founding Fathers seemed to have many important positions in colonial America After laying some of the groundwork of Marshall s ancestry where the reader discovers that Marshall and Thomas Jefferson were second cousins the narrative turns to a brief discussion of the Revolutionary War where Marshall served in the Continental Army under General Washington Marshall may not have been a war hero in the most conventional sense but his understanding of the political goings on and the legal ramifications of the colonies desire to secede would prove valuable in the years to come Working to help craft some aspects of the constitutional documents Marshall used some of his legal abilities to ensure that the new Republic would not be left on shaky ground Proving himself not only to be a sharp legal mind Marshall was sent to France to help broker deals to solidify American allies while Britain was still seen as the enemy to much of the European countries While stationed there Marshall developed some strong social friendships which Paul posits may have been his way of forgetting the family he left back in America Marshall s persuasive ways were not able to cement long lasting agreements with France but did help earn him his first formal position in the new American Government John Adams who followed Washington to the position of President of the United States offered Marshall the coveted position of Secretary of State This Cabinet post in its original form held prestige than it does today euating to a uasi presidential role for America on the world stage With open animosity still present with Britain and a yet to be buttonholed France Marshall utilised his abilities to strengthen America s position on the world scene amongst the European superpowers During this time America began to show some early signs of strain within its own borders Divisions between key Founding Fathers saw two political parties emerge the Federalists and the Republicans While both labeled as right of centre by the author Federalists held strong traditional views with the country as a whole serving as the base unit of decision making while Republicans sought ongoing change for Americans and saw the state as the political unit in this new country Clashes would ensue and vilification of those on the other side of the divide proved to be a regular game As Adams saw his presidential power waning with the constant attacks by Thomas Jefferson he chose to offer Marshall one of the most powerful positions possible that of Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court Marshall waffled for a time as the Court was seen as a weak body on which no man wanted to serve for long That said there was the chance to shape the Court and interpret many of the new laws being drafted and implemented by the state and federal governments Marshall did acuiesce taking the position in hopes that he could make something of it How little he knew of what was to come in the decades that followedMarshall seemed to come into his own after his appointment to the Supreme Court even though he was hesitant to accept the role from the outset Marshall saw the work as difficult and taxing but also was able to utilise his sharp mind to interpret laws effectively laying the groundwork for major legal decisions some of which still hold firm Paul has aptly named this biography for many of the decisions that Marshall made or others on the Court wrote were without any form of precedent the idea of a previous court ruling that could be used as the foundation of a judicial decision thereby allowing forcing the Court to forge into new territory Paul does delve into a small discussion of the perspective that Marshall had for the Court an active or interpretative judicial branch which was substantiated by the comments of others Some saw Marshall leading the Court to read things into laws or the US Constitution that may not have been present thereby creating new laws or unintended interpretations Others argued that Marshall simply followed what was in the law and forced the lawmakers to be bound by what they had passed in their legislative assemblies Either way Paul argues effectively that Marshall saw the Constitution has a living tree or always evolving which may help the reader and historians better understand some of his interpretations of legal matters Through the latter portion of the biography Paul develops the narrative of Marshall as head of the Court deciding many important cases that would help shape the young Republic including states rights private land rights legal entitlement of the Indigenous read Indian at the time population slavery and the limits of Executive Power Numerous cases are listed throughout the narrative some with great backstories to help the reader better understand those cases that made their way before the Court and how Marshall sought to interpret them Interspersed within the cases Paul develops the historical setting and changes of presidents some of whom admired Marshall s work while others sought to vilify him Marshall remained on the Court for over thirty years and while holding the judicial and executive branches of government apart could be seen to inject the odd comment into the goings on that shaped America One aspect that historians and biographers can only ponder and not substantiate is the number of unanimous decisions that came from the Court Marshall may have started with numerous other Federalist justices but that number waned the longer he remained on the Court However the staggering amount of unanimous decisions seemed to continue As an aside for those who are not aware discussions of the US Supreme Court justices when they meet in conference to decide cases are neither public nor are they documented for historical review Therefore it is all a mystery as to how Marshall might have developed so many strong minded legal scholars to come together on hundreds of cases When Marshall could no longer ignore his health concerns he was forced to leave the Court having served his country for decades As with many men of the time his decline was swift and he left an indelible mark on American history As Paul effectively argues no matter one s political stripe the country mourned the loss of John Marshall who served as the compass for the Union leading up to some of the most tumultuous times that would befall the immature RepublicJoel Richard Paul provides a thorough and educational biography of John Marshall permitting the reader to better understand this man who shaped early America through his dedication and attention to detail Paul develops a strong and chronological narrative that permits the reader to see just how varied Marshall s life came to be and how he put his all into every job he was assigned As with many other biographies of the Founding Fathers change was ever present and the evolution of the country occurred with each decision made Marshall found himself in the middle of most of it be it as a soldier diplomat cabinet secretary and Supreme Court Justice His ideas sought not only to shape the new country but also proved useful in helping to build a foundation of a country that was seeking to differentiate itself from its past colonial oppressors the British Paul offers some great detail in his narrative but also leaves many aspects of the story open for interpretation or future exploration It is apparent that a detailed analysis of Marshall s legal decisions could take up an entire volume as could fleshing out of the early years that Marshall lived before he emerged on the battlefield for the Continental Army Of interest to some will be Paul s exploration in the latter portion of the final chapter of the lives of the two cousins Marshall and Thomas Jefferson How diametrically opposed the two men could be yet how uintessential they were to the advancement of the Republic Paul has done a wonderful job here and leaves the reader wanting which tends to happen for those who love the era and enjoy a variety of perspectives Highly recommended for those with the patience to delve into this biography which mixes politics history and legal matters in eual measureKudos Mr Paul for such a wonderful piece of work I can only hope that I locate some of your other work soon to better understand other topics that you have taken the time to synthesiseLovehate the review An ever growing collection of others appears at Book for All Seasons a different sort of Book Challenge

review ¶ PDF, DOC, TXT or eBook × Joel Richard Paul

Without Precedent

Tory of how a rough cut frontiersman born in Virginia in 1755 and with little formal education invented himself as one of the nation's preeminent lawyers and politicians who then reinvented the Constitution to forge a stronger nation Without Precedent is the engrossing account of the life and times of this exceptional man who with cunning imagination and grace shaped America's future as he held together the Supreme Court the Constitution and the country itsel. I do not imagine many biographies of John Marshall bother much with anything beyond his tenure on the Supreme Court since that is where Marshall s mark on our history was made This book reveals the error in any such effort While a good deal of attention is paid to the cases Marshall used to establish the independence and necessity of the third branch of government this author devotes nearly half of his book to what got Marshall to the Court and what made him the man that was suited to the task set before himTo begin with there is repeated mention of the conflicts Marshall had with his cousin Thomas Jefferson and it is clear that this author does not particularly care for our third president an opinion I share with the author I consider Jefferson our first sleazy president and this author provides even reasons for me to hold this opinion I thought I knew enough from other readings but Prof Paul supplies even He starts with the family basis for the animosity between these two esteemed relatives It seems that a female forebear of Marshall fell out of favor with her father who disinherited her and the inheritance that would have made Marshall s life comparable in comfort to Jefferson s went to TJ s branch of the family and was enjoyed by TJ Marshall was born in a log cabin the oldest of 15 children and they were poor as dirt Nevertheless Marshall made something of himself and did it the hard way while his cousin TJ never had to work a day in his life or struggle for anything That Marshall didn t become some sort of twisted bitter and ambitious person is a tribute to the man s character In fact at the end of the book the author compares the character and lives of these two men in a fairly objective manner and the result is not surprisingIn addition to revealing of the important aspects of Marshall s personal development as well as the direction of his career the book also supplies detail about our history that I have not found in any other history that I ve read The book trace Marshall s career through the events of our history in which Marshall was a participant These events are among the minor events that appear in every US history but never in any depth Marshall was one of delegates sent to France by Adams to negotiate a settlement with France over the uasi War As a result of that Marshall was directly involved in the infamous XYZ Affair and for the first time we have a history that names who XY and Z actually were and what exactly they did Much to his dismay this affair made Marshall a national celebrity when all he wanted to do was go home to his nearly invalid wife and return to his law practice Unfortunately Marshall s sense of duty and his loyalty and devotion to the men that steered his career to advantage made this impossible He was repeatedly pulled back into the national political scene by Washington and then by Adams with the end result being his appointment as chief justice of the Supreme CourtSurprisingly a bit than half the book is devoted to the cases that insured Marshall s place in our history What is surprising is that the author is a law professor and this portion of the book is not mind numbingly boring To the contrary the professor lays out these cases in a way that even a layman will appreciate In each case the author gives the backstory along with some conjecture of what may have been going on behind the scenes even suggesting that Marshall may have suborned perjury in the Marbury case The author also then identifies the issue of the case and the decision and what the rationale for the decision may have been He also examines the political implications of the decisions What the author also credits Marshall for is his ability to build consensus among the justices to achieve an astonishing number of unanimous decisions among justices with dissimilar personalities backgrounds and politics In sum this is probably one of the best biographies I have ever read and definitely worth reading if you re interested in our history

Joel Richard Paul × 4 Read

The United States the longest serving in history he established the independence of the judiciary and the supremacy of the federal Constitution and courts As the leading Federalist in Virginia he rivaled his cousin Thomas Jefferson in influence As a diplomat and secretary of state he defended American sovereignty against France and Britain counseled President John Adams and supervised the construction of the city of Washington DCThis is the astonishing true s. Without Precedent Chief Justice John Marshall and His Times was an engrossing and meticulously researched biography of Chief Justice John Marshall appointed to the United States Supreme Court by President John Adams The author imparts the historical significance of Chief Justice Marshall s thirty four years on the Supreme Court and his impact on this new and struggling nation Joel Richard Paul stressed how Marshall saw the Constitution as a dynamic and fluid body of laws enabling America to go from a small agrarian economy to a modern industrial economy Paul portrays Marshall s early life in vivid detail contrasting his humble upbringing in the rural Blue Ridge Mountains with fourteen brothers and sisters while his cousin Thomas Jefferson was raised with wealth and privilege at Tuckahoe However this gave Marshall an appreciation for the common man that served him well throughout his life The other experience that shaped Marshall was his service in the Continental Army while in the ranks of Washington and Prussian officer Steuben Subseuent to attending William and Mary College to study law he had a daunting reputation for his practice of law and his oratory Serving in the Virginia House he became a strong and powerful voice in the shaping of this country Much of the second half of the book focuses on many of the landmark decisions of the Supreme Court under the guidance of Chief Justice John Marshall priding himself on the inordinate number of unanimous decisions that were handed down and still are an integral part of the fabric of this country and our body of law This was a most uniue look at this pivotal and most interesting period in American history Destiny had preordained that Marshall would struggle with Jefferson for the soul of the Union He accepted President Adams nomination out of a sense of duty Marshall was committed to stand vigil over the principle of Federalism keep the country on the path of moderation and resist ideology with pragmatismAfter Jefferson finished speaking he stood with one hand on a Masonic Bible and the other hand raised to take the oath of office Standing opposite him to administer the oath of office was a familiar face John Marshall the chief justice of the United States and the man who administers the presidential oath of office History had predetermined their fateful collision Two cousins who had stood on opposite sides of every public issue for a generation now led two branches of the federal governmentIn less than two decades the Marshall Court had liberated the market from the constraints of monopolies and the heavy hand of state regulation It had guaranteed the sanctity of contracts and private property rights And it had empowered Congress to adopt national regulations that would harmonize state laws In so doing the Marshall Court helped create the conditions for free enterprise to flourish in the nineteenth centuryIt is tempting to contrast Marshall s life and legacy with Jefferson s Until Jefferson s passing they lived as mirror opposites for half a century in almost every way No Marshall biography can avoid taking sides in their conflicted relationship That is not to say that Marshall was always right or that Jefferson was always wrong Both were exceptional and entirely human They were flawed and sometimes they erred Yet both Marshall and Jefferson were indispensable to the founding of the Republic


10 thoughts on “Without Precedent

  1. says:

    35 Marshall was a self made man a cousin of Jefferson but his family had none of the wealth as Jefferson He was self taught well read and a man for whom the Union and it's perseverance meant everything He held different po

  2. says:

    With his previous bestselling history Unlikely Alies covering the alliance between France's Beaumarchais and the Continent

  3. says:

    In my years of reading American history I have always found biographies of the Founding Fathers of greatest interest to me Not only were these men full of grit and determination in the face of their British oppressors but their decisions prov

  4. says:

    Without Precedent Chief Justice John Marshall and His Times was an engrossing and meticulously researched biography of Chief Justice John Marshall appointed to the United States Supreme Court by President John Adams The author imparts the historical significance of Chief Justice Marshall's thirty four years on the Supreme Court and

  5. says:

    This is yet another book that while focused primarily on John Marshall compares the legacies Marshall with his political rival Thomas Jefferson Both men made essential contributions to the early republic And like

  6. says:

    This is a major new biography of John Marshall 1755 1835 Marshall was President John Adams’ Secretary of State As he was going out of office Adams appointed John Marshall as the Chief of the Supreme Court Even though Marshall was

  7. says:

    I do not imagine many biographies of John Marshall bother much with anything beyond his tenure on the Supreme Court since that is where Marshall's mark on our history was made This book reveals the error in any such effort While a good deal of attention is paid to the cases Marshall used to establish the independence and necessity of the third branch of government this author devotes nearly half of his book to what got Marshall

  8. says:

    This is a page turner I love history but unfortunately most books are told like a textbook matter of fact and dry This one is a marvelously written account with a flowing narrative of Marshall’s ascent as a frontiersman to one of the longest serving Chief Justice This is a book I can give away to history buffs there’s still plenty to figure out about this great man I would definitely purchase the hardcover when it comes outAd

  9. says:

    As good a history book as I have read Marshall is a true founding father and a man of great character for his time This was

  10. says:

    “It is tempting to contrast Marshall’s life and legacy with Jefferson’sNo Marshall biography can avoid taking sides in their conflicted relationship” P 436 I humbly beg to differ If you seek an unbiased account of the life and works of Justice Marshall then stay away from this book This narrative can be accurately described as a criticism of Jefferson than a summary of Marshall’s works To put it bluntly this book drips with bias