tv American Artifacts Chief Justice John Marshalls Life Legacy CSPAN November 5, 2017 9:57pm-10:29pm EST
of concerns. >> watch the communicators monday night on c-span two. american history tv is on c-span3 every weekend featuring museum tours, archival films and programs on the presidency. here is a clip from a recent program. >> the building is decoratively carved because that is one of the carvings. letter into the -- in a that it is not in passion anymore. he wanted it and had a way of saying that he required it. -- got it and the stonemasons gave him what he wanted. there were two of them that remained. most of the stonemasons went back home. two remained.
married.ly got they carried out this incredible out of style carving, so beautiful. the greatest part is the 14 foot swagger over the door. it is carved with lilies and griffins and acorns. probably the finest example of carving in america for 100 years. it is beautiful and the columns -- cresting the columns, it is not gaudily done. carvingt really see the , it is too far from you, but the carving is really special. one thing that was worked at this time was that i always wondered what those cabbage roses were at the top of the
column. that is not classical work. these are lush, lots of petals and all of that. it seems that they propagated a double rows. it is called a scottish double rows. it swept europe like crazy. they were everywhere. everybody had them. finally, we should have figured out -- figured that out 20 years ago. we did not, that is the trademark. that is a gift to the house, a scottish rows. --
you can watch this and all our other programs at c-span.org. >> c-span, where history unfolds daily. in 1970 nine, c-span was created as a public service by america's companies andon is brought to you today by your cable or satellite provider. >> each week, american artifacts takes viewers into archives, museums, and historic sites around the country. next, we visit the national constitution center in philadelphia to learn about the life and legacy of john marshall who served on the supreme court from 1801 21835. >> i am the senior fellow for constitutional studies here. we are here to talk about chief justice john marshall in our new
exhibit. what is amazing about this exhibit is we cover what is most familiar about john marshall. he was the fourth chief justice and is thought of as the great chief justice. you allexhibit, we take the way through his time as a statesman through the atoms administration and his time as chief justice. we tell it through amazing artifacts and documents. let's begin the exhibit. we begin our story with a young john marshall in virginia. he is born into a large family. he is the eldest of 15 children. his father was a state legislator and justice of the peace. he taught him history, law, the classics. john marshall begins his journey with the american revolution. he was a militia member in the local militia. he works his way to become an
officer in the continental army. this experience, as much as any other experience in his life, forges his constitutional views about the role of the federal government. it would reverberate throughout the rest of his life. let's look at the amazing artifacts that we have that tell the story. one of the highlights of the entire exhibit is the first letter we see. it is 1827. this is an old john marshall. at this point, he is 72 years old and riding an autobiographical letter reflecting on his life. he is talking about how the experience in the american revolution influenced his views later in life. we project the key quote at the top of the exhibit. i think it really encapsulates his vision. i found myself associated with brave men risking everything valuable in a common cause
believed by all to be most precious. this is an amazing statement. for someone of john marshall's generation when you think of , your country, you think of virginia, you do not think of the united states of america first. so unlike his contemporaries in virginia, people like patrick henry would think of virginia as their country. he is saying based on his experience as part of the american revolution, he thinks of the united states as his country. we get that from this amazing autobiographical letter. and then we have different artifacts that talk to his time in the military. i want to focus on the one in the bottom corner. these are revolutionary war uniform buttons that were pulled
from valley forge. when we think about his experience in the revolution, he was there. he was there with george washington and alexander hamilton. they felt firsthand the sacrifice of war, of fighting for your country. they also felt the inadequacies of the government at the time. the government that relied too much on the states to volunteer supplies and men to fight in the war. so they would emerge from this war believing we needed a stronger federal government, one that could undertake big national tasks. this philosophical view would inform most of marshall's views for the rest of his magnificent career. we're fast forwarding to when he comes home from the war and is trying to build his own family, build a career, built a life for himself. we have this quote. he knew that he was going to be called to the law.
from my infancy, i was destined for the bar. he travels to william and mary and attends law lectures. he gets his training there. we have one artifact here that is his law commonplace book. as he is listening to lectures on the law and doing his own research, he is writing out different cases and legal principles. this was his own commonplace book. within here, you can see times --which he is googling doodling during his law lectures. during this time, he meets and falls in love with his wife. and they build a family together. more importantly, he is building up his law practice, his political reputation. he was such a respected young lawyer, that edmund randolph from the most powerful family in virginia presented the plan at the virginia constitution,
virginia,rnor of powerful lawyer in the state, turned over his legal practice to john marshall as he is building his professional career. if we are really digging in here, trying to get a sense of marshall's early career before he enters the federal government, we have amazing artifact in the bottom right corner. it is a first edition copy of the federalist papers. marshall is a lawyer, he even argues a case before the supreme court during this time. he is elected to the virginia state legislature. but one of the most important projects at the time is that he is a delegate to the virginia ratifying convention. this is connected to the story that we tell throughout this museum of the framers drafting the constitution, forging it through compromise and then , sending it to the states for
ratification. when we think of virginia, we think of the most important state in the union at the time. eight states have ratified the constitution. we have three conventions meeting. virginia, new york, and new hampshire were the most influential. the virginia story is an amazing one. it brings together some of the most important figures in early american politics. opposing the constitution, we have great revolutionary figures like patrick henry, richard henry lee, george mason, were opposing the constitution. supporting the constitution you have james madison and john marshall. he gave influential speeches, including a defense of judicial independence. the importance of the judiciary within our institution. -- within our constitutional system. despite opposing views with someone like patrick henry, the firebrand, one of the most
powerful figures in virginia, he was so powerful he even tried to deny james madison a seat and ran james monroe against him in the house. but john marshall is someone who was really easy to get along with. so even despite political disagreements with patrick henry, he would maintain close relations with him. they would be quite tight. so we see this theme as we go through his career about his ability to hold strong constitutional views but also see the importance of finding compromise and finding common humanity with adversaries. and on the supreme court, forging unanimity in the legitimacy of the supreme court. let's move to his time where he
is in the federal government. the beginning of his career as a national leader of the federalist party. we are up to john marshall's early career in the federal government. he is a leading federalist. at the urging of george washington he is asked to run , for the u.s. house of representative's in 1798. he secures that seat. president john, adams names him secretary of state. so he is moving from a career in virginia to a central role in the early federal government. these artifacts tell that story. they tell it through the lens of one really important episode in his career. this is during the adams administration. he is called upon to become an envoy to france. it is amazing how much the politics are defined by the rivalry between great britain
and france and where the united states and its as a former colony of great britain and former ally of france. george washington has to decide how he is going to address the conflicts happening between france and great britain. he declares neutrality. ay over to great britain and creates a treaty that ends up being important for establishing political and commercial relations between great britain and the united states. but that inflames thomas jefferson and others who are supporters of france. they were hostile towards great britain and the commercial relationships that gave rise to an industrial class in the u.s. give rise to hamiltonian vision of the economy that centered on bankers and commerce. we have these debates happening during the washington administration.
john marshall supports george washington and john jay. he becomes a member of congress and of the adams administration. but because of these moves, france becomes inflamed with the united states. france had supported us during the american revolution. debts we no longer wanted to pay after the french revolution. adams, dealing with hostility from france and france seizing goodsips and stealing our destined for great britain. he sends john marshall and other envoys to france to come together with a treaty that can create friendly relations between france and the united states. this becomes known as the xyz affair. with twohall is sent others. the three of them are attempting to negotiate with the french
government. the great french foreign minister. they are trying to establish relations with him. he sends his own envoys as well. xyz in the dispatches. they say, you must bribe us, give us an exorbitant loan, to even talk to our minister. accountall writes up an of this affair. it ends up being publicized in the united states. we refuse to give this to france. this creates a firestorm. what we have here is the traveling writing desk that john marshall used during this episode. you can picture him writing his dispatches, talking about his communications with the french envoys. the controversies arising, the conflicts he even has with his fellow diplomats in the american delegation. he is doing it right here at this desk. as we move further into the case
we actually have the commission , that john adams wrote with the appointments for these envoys. three you see his signature there. he is mentioning the ambassador to france. at the time, france would not recognize him. eldritch gary was a member of the constitutional convention, a difficult person to get along with. he was the opposite of john marshall in that sense. he was the only person who could get along with him was john adams. and you have a young john marshall on his first diplomatic mission. we have the papers for that appointment. we also have the spectacles and inkwell of john marshall that he is using sitting at this desk writing these important papers. this previews a theme for the rest of the exhibit. it is a letter from thomas jefferson to john marshall. it is 1798. marshall is coming back from france and is a hero for standing up to the french government.
congress has a dinner in john marshall's honor. this is a short letter from jefferson to marshall, apologizing for not being able to make it to the dinner. they are distant cousins but they despise each other. but for political reasons, not personal reasons. they had deeply different views and visions for our constitution and government. we will get into them as we proceed through the exhibit. let's proceed to the next exhibit case. we've got a sense of john marshall the soldier, in virginia as a state legislator and lighter supporting the u.s. constitution. john marshall in congress. with this case, we get to john marshall as chief justice, the image we are most familiar with. john marshall is nominated by adams in 1801. adams had just lost the election.
jefferson is getting ready to take over as president. the chief justice is ill. adams is rushing to try to replace him before jeffersonians take over the presidency and congress. he initially asked john jay to take the position of chief justice. he was our first chief justice. but he looked at the supreme court and said, no, i do not want to go back there. the institution does not have energy or influence. early justices have to go on horseback, hearing cases throughout the united states. in many ways, it was a very unpleasant commission. he did not wish to take it up again. so adams turns to his own political ally, the moderate federalist john marshall, his , secretary of state. we get this great quote from john adams. my gift to john marshall and the people of the united states was the proudest act of my life. without a doubt, john marshall was the perfect man at the perfect moment for this
particular institution. we have our first peaceful transfer of power from the federalists, from adams to jefferson. and with that, a major philosophical change from the president and congress. we have marshall in the judiciary. a powerful federalist who believes in a strong national government. and we have the jeffersonians in charge of the political branches, devoted to limited government. a limited reading of the constitution's powers for the federal government. a believer in states rights and in judicial restraint. really believed it was up to the representatives to define the contours of the constitution. we are set up for a great moment of conflict between jefferson and marshall. the jeffersonians go at the supreme court and impeach samuel chase who is a strong federalist justice. he is not convicted by the senate.
marshall tout for be careful, tread lightly, don't go directly after the jeffersonians. we have marshall taking over at his precarious moment. the most amazing artifact is the nomination from john adams of marshall. this is the official nomination when he is sending to the senate john marshall's name to be chief justice one of the great moments , in marshall's career. one of the great moments for our nation. we have a couple of letters that give a sense of the emerging conflict between john marshall and thomas jefferson. a constitutional conflict, not a personal conflict. on the top, we have a letter from john marshall to alexander hamilton. a great early federalist. marshall is expressing concerns about jefferson taking over the presidency.
the jeffersonians taking over the congress. he was worried that by weakening the office of the presidency, he will increase his personal power. the idea that publicly he will express limited powers for the presidency but would wield great powers over the majority of congress. and we have this letter from john marshall to his old colleague in france from the xyz affair. charles pinckney. he is writing this letter. in the middle of writing the letter, he has to leave to go and oversee the inauguration of jefferson. then he comes back. he expresses more optimism that despite the differences they can bring the country together. and we have a letter from thomas jefferson where he is talking about his concerns about the assertions of judicial power by the marshall court. he describes the constitution as
a thing of wax in the hands of the judiciary which they may twist and form into any shape they please. they are trying to forge judicial independence and consolidate the power of the federal government. then we have thomas jefferson talking about a more restrictive role for the federal government. the final thing is the first official biography of george washington ever written. it is written by john marshall at the urging of washington's family. there is a belief that part of the conflict between jefferson and marshall has to do with jefferson's criticism of president washington. john marshall knows how important it is for american public memory to really celebrate our great figures. none bigger than george of angton and his bigger new and energetic government. so we have this copy of john marshall's biography of george washington.
a great way to end here as we walk over and talk about the great decisions of the marshall courts. this is marshall chief justice taking the reins. then we will talk about some of the big decisions that happened during the marshall court. now we moved the most familiar part of john marshall's life. these are the great decisions. we are thinking about the big themes we get from these decisions. one is john marshall's assertion of judicial independence. this is where decisions like marbury versus madison come in. connected with that, decisions that move toward a vision of the constitution that gives the federal government more power. it is a reading of the constitution of rod powers for the federal government to do genuinely national things. this is the flashpoint between jefferson and marshall. it is important to think about john marshall's legacy of building up the legitimacy of the supreme court.
john jay was offered this appointment and he turned down because he did not think it was a good job. marshall sits on the court for 34 years. he is our longest serving chief justice. he is nominated by the federalist john adams. john adams is succeeded by democratic republicans looking to lay claim to the constitution. madison ands like monroe and jackson. they'll put supreme justices on the court to limit the position of the federal government. but marshall, through his openness to compromise, helped forge the court together. and build unanimity. one of his great innovations was to move beyond the practice were each justice would write his own opinion for each decision to instead issuing opinions of the court.
marshall writes the vast majority of the court's decisions. unlike today, they tend to be unanimous even on divisive issues. let's dig into a few of them we see here. the first artifact we see here is the court decree from a case in 1824. the state of new york issues a monopoly to steamboat operators. the key constitutional question is how broadly do we read the federal government's power over the economy. this debate goes back to the washington administration. what marshall does is he views the commerce power broadly. he says it even covers things like navigation on the waterways and the operation of steamboats. therefore, he magnifies the power of congress and the federal government over the economy. over what the states are doing.
it is an important assertion of national power. is what ismportant in many ways john marshall's masterpiece. it is the most famous decision. it is where marshall asserts judicial review and the power to declare laws unconstitutional. it is the one most people begin their casebooks with. it is the one americans are most familiar with. he lays out the theory of our constitution that has endured in many ways since the opinion was issued in the marshall court is 1819. wrestling with the most important constitutional question of the early republic, that is the constitutionality of the national bank. in the washington administration decades earlier we have jefferson fighting with , hamilton over whether or not congress has the power to establish a national bank. washington sides with hamilton. we have a national bank for a time. theave here an attempt by
state of maryland to undermine the national bank. they argued that the bank was unconstitutional. marshall advances his constitutional vision through an act of judicial restraint. rather than aggressively asserting federal and judicial , what he says is, we as a matter of political practice have put a national bank in place since the first congress. we have had it since so i will defer to the judgment of very wise people. but then he reads the powers in the constitution under article one section eight. the necessary and practical clause. the powers of congress extend beyond each individual power listed in article one. and instead through the clause,y and proper allows congress to pass laws that recognize implied powers of
the federal government. it might not say explicitly that the congress can create a national bank, but it does give congress the power over commerce. commerce.e marshall and the marshall court give a broad reading to federal power. what is amazing about the artifact is not the decree for maryland, but the father of the constitution, james madison's reaction. he is highly critical. because we have two visions. we have the vision of strong national government but we have madison and jefferson arguing for a more limited so government. so here we have madison arguing that marshall is reading the necessary and proper clause to o broadly. we have jefferson and madison during the washington administration arguing against the constitutionality of the national bank. so we have james madison criticizing one of our landmark decisions.
we have it written by one of our other great figures in constitutional history john , marshall. it is a great reminder that even the greatest of constitutional minds can disagree about fundamental questions within our constitution. ur constitution is a document of debate and conversation. the final artifact is john marshall writing to his friend justice joseph story defending another decision where he is a certain federal power in another case. the idea was that if you are in state courts, in this case a criminal prosecution, and you think your constitutional rights have been violated, this is saying, no, you can appeal to the supreme court. the supreme court can decide those sorts of cases dealing with federal, constitutional rights.
i will end this with a great quote from john marshall. he says people made the unstitution and people can make it. this is john marshall, the nationalist. john marshall, my nation is the united states, not virginia, it is we the people. it was a time in three decades in which he was able to bridge divides between supporters of jefferson who would have opposed marshall hostages only but he was able to forge compromise for people who disagreed with him on the constitution and built up the legitimacy on the supreme court. this is why we think of him and him alone as the great chief justice.
we end here with this magnificent portrait of john marshall. this is john marshall, the elder statesman. 1831. he is near the end of his life. he has come to philadelphia for surgery. the philadelphia bar so reveres him and his legacy as chief justice that they have him sit for this portrait by the great american artist. it is worth reflecting on as he gets to this point in his life what is his legacy? , for many americans, the most obvious is he is the great chief justice. he served for 34 years. issues more than 600 opinions. able to forge unanimity across the spectrum. he writes great decisions. things that are still in casebooks today. things that lawyers today still read for purposes of learning. with these decisions, he asserts judicial independence and builds