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Book Report

1. John Marshall Judicial Statesman

2. John R. Cuneo

3. 1975

4. John Marshall was born in a cabin in the northwest woods of Virginia near Germantown ( now Midland ), on September 24, 1755. The first of fifteen children of Thomas and Mary Keith Marshall. He had English, Welsh and Scottish blood in his veins. He was a distant cousin of Thomas Jefferson. John spent the first twenty years of his life near Virginia’s frontier. As eldest son, John had to hunt and fish. He started to enjoy nature. Before dawn he would wake up and watch the sunrise. His father was a college-trained clergy man. Thomas wanted John to participate in public life and he knew that law profession was the right path for John. Law required an education and schooling was missing in the woods they lived in. At the age of twelve, Thomas had given John a taste of history and poetry out of a few books. At the age of fourteen, John was sent a hundred miles from home to attend a small boarding school ran by a Scotch clergy man. After a year he returned to the Marshall farm where he was tutored by lodger, another Scotch clergy man. After a year the clergy man left and John continued his studies by himself. It was close to 1775 and everyone in America knew that trouble was brewing with Great Britain. Thomas Marshall sensed there was going to be war before everyone else. In his loyalty to Virginia, Thomas Marshall was called to fight in the war as a minuteman and he knew that his eldest son would be at his side fighting with him. John had to be taught how to be a solider, so he began to teach John and to direct his study to the art of war. Throughout the colonies, other men young and old, had also begun to meet and drill. With John’s popularity he was named as ” Lieutenant ” John Marshall. John had fought long and hard, but at the end he was appointed ” Captain “.

Thomas Marshall was a wealthy man, but the war had financially ruined him. He had to sell his mansion and retire to a small house next to military quarters. Thomas would read letters from John to the two eldest Ambler girls, Eliza and Mary usually known as Polly. Polly had been intrigued by the humor John wrote in his letters. On January 3, 1783, Mary Willis Ambler and Captain John Marshall were married. In the beginning money problems tore John up. But, this didn’t stop John from spoiling Polly from exquisite dresses and gifts. As time passed the money pressure decreased. John was appointed to Virginia’s council of State, but he was compelled to resign on April 1, 1784. He ran again for the House of Delegates from his old home county of Fauquier. He won the election. In mid-May 1784 he again took a seat in Virginia’s legislature. Marshall began to think deeply about the problems of government and to develop the political philosophy. His first child, Thomas, was born on July 21, 1784, followed by a daughter who did not survive childhood. Polly was slow in recovering from the second birth. Marshall rented a larger house after the birth of his first child. Besides the boy, he had to put up with a brother and a sister left in his care when his father moved to Kentucky. There seemed to be no time when Marshall did not have one or more relations staying in his house. Now he again changed houses, selecting a site near Polly’s mother in order to make her happy. He was elected to the US. House of Representatives in 1799, where he acted as spokesman for the Federalist party. In 1800 he became Secretary of State in the cabinet of President John Adams, and a year later Adams appointed him chief justice of the US. Marshall held this office for 34 years before his death. As the most important judicial figure in US. history, Marshall is famed as the ” great chief justice “. Before his appointment to the bench , the Supreme Court was regarded as ineffectual. By his personality and the wisdom of his decisions, Marshal raised the court to a position of great power in the federal government. He succeeds in making it the ultimate authority in constitutional manners. The first and perhaps most important of Marshall’s great cases was Marbury v. Madison ( 1803 )

Marshall’s court duties kept him from his family a great deal of time. In 1831 John was in severe pain from a urinary infection and had to undergo a long and serious operation to relieve his agony. Polly died on Christmas day, 1831. The previous day she hung around her husbands neck a locket with a twist of her hair. He never removed the locket and in accordance with his instructions it was the last thing taken off his body after death. He felt exceedingly depressed, and rarely goes through a night without weeping over his departed wife. In 1835 Marshall began another session of the Supreme Court but by midsummer a liver ailment forced him to go to Philadelphia for treatment. In the late afternoon of Monday, July 6, 1835, he died, almost eighty years old.

5. I guess it was. I was a lot of work to keep me awake reading the book. It was detailed, too detailed. I decided to leave some of the middle part out of my book report. It would have helped if he put some pictures in the book. I wouldn’t recommend it to people who don’t have a cup of hard coffee at their side.

6. I compared other books with this book. I chose this book because it is more detailed. Boy, was that a big mistake! Here is an example: ” In 1782 Polly became sixteen-a marriable age. There are several versions of John’s proposal at the end of the year. One story is that when he asked Polly to marry him, she refused. He turned, mounted his horse, and started for his father’s home in the West. Polly became hysterical and, holding her breath, turned blue in the face. There was one thing for her father to do. He mounted his horse and rode after John. He apparently was able to convince John that Polly’s ” No” really meant ” Yes ”

7. No, the book didn’t actually give a real clear picture to the subject because it started to talk about other great Americans like Washington in the Revolutionary War and how he gained stradegy. The book didn’t mention anything about Marshall that time.


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