Marshall Courtexternal image John+Marshall.jpg

An imposing figure, John Marshall, was appointed chief justice of the Supreme Court in 1801 and would hold this position until 1835 when he died at the age of 80. He would dominate the supreme court more fully than any man before or after him, in his 34 years as chief justice he would serve in over one thousand cases and only be in the minority for 7. A firm believer in federalist policies he would mold the constitution more than any man, other than the framers. He used his position to:
Strengthen the judicial branch, at the expense of the legislative and executive branches.
Increase the power of the federal government, at the of the states.
Advance the interests of the propertied and commercial classes.
Important cases during the era of good feelings:
Fletcher v. Peck
Could the Georgia legislature of 1796 repeal the act of the previous legislature granting land to the Yazoo Land Companies?
In a unanimous decision the court that the land grant was a valid contract and could not be repealed.
This decision strengthened business deals making business more difficult for states to regulate.

Dartmouth College v. Woodward
The New Hampshire state government tried to revise Dartmouth College’s charter and convert the private college to a state university
After an incredible display Daniel Webster convinced the court to rule in favor of Dartmouth.
This decision placed restrictions on the state governments’ ability to control corporations.
Cohens v. Virginia
Cohens sold D.C. lottery tickets in Virginia and was fined.
The Supreme Court reviewed the case and agreed.
This case affirmed the constitutionality of federal review of state court decisions.
McCulloch v. Maryland
In the South and West hatred of the national bank had caused some states prohibit or tax the national bank .
The court ruled that power to tax is “power to destroy”. If states can tax banks they can tax the to death.
This case affirmed the constitutionality of the national bank and the “necessary and proper” clause.
Gibbons v Ogden
The state had granted Ogden a monopoly in the business of transporting people across the Hudson River. Gibbons received a license to perform the same job from Congress.
The court ruled in favor of Gibbons. They said that contracts given by Congress supersede those given by the state.
This strengthened Congress’s ability to regulate interstate commerce.

The decisions of the Marshall Court established the supremacy of the federal government in regulating the economy and promoting economic growth. Through highly nationalistic decisions they promoted a more unified nation.

A Survey: American History By: Alan Brinkley
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