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John Marshall and the Heroic Age of the Supreme Court (Southern Biography) Paperback – April 1, 2007


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Product Details

  • Series: Southern Biography
  • Paperback: 511 pages
  • Publisher: Louisiana State University Press (April 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807132497
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807132494
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.5 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,310,445 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this comprehensive scholarly study of the chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court from 1801 to 1835, Newmyer (Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story) succeeds at "locat[ing] Marshall and his jurisprudence in the broader historical context." Newmyer, a professor at the University of Connecticut School of Law, cites three principal sources for Marshall's constitutional thinking: his experience as a Revolutionary soldier, his law career steeped in the common law tradition, and his upbringing among the landowning elite in Virginia. These formative influences, Newmyer contends, created in the fourth chief justice a belief system centered on the primacy of the federal union and respect for property rights. As a judge, Marshall (1755-1835) believed in but did not always practice nonpolitical interpretation of the Constitution. Newmyer profiles a dozen of the justice's foundational opinions for the Supreme Court, demonstrating Marshall's persistent nationalist vision in which a written Constitution trumps divisive state and local interests. At the end of his career, Marshall believed his vision had been swept aside by history; and so it had, as states' rights gained ascendancy in the years leading up to the Civil War. However, his decisions are still cited as precedents today and have had a formidable impact on key legislation such as New Deal welfare programs. In this sustained and thoughtful examination, Newmyer concentrates on his subject's ideas more than his personality or his life's chronology. The author plainly approves of Marshall as a man, a thinker and a judge, and this account will persuade readers that the judge is indeed worthy of study and admiration. 27 b&w illus.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

A legal and historical scholar with particular expertise in assessing the impact of U.S. Supreme Court heavyweights, Newmyer here offers fresh insight into the life, times, contributions, and significance of the Court's fourth chief justice. Focusing on Marshall's judicial career, he plunges into his early days as a novice lawyer and member of the Virginia legislature who was rapidly transformed by the Revolution into a frontier republican. Subsequently, he would step forth upon the national stage as a champion of the new order envisioned by the Constitutional Convention of 1787. The author points with consistency to Marshall's application of the rule of law in translating political confrontation and to his application of common-law rules and remedies in rectifying disputes. Chief Justice Marshall left an enduring legacy upon the Supreme Court by revealing a willingness to make political calculations a part of the decision-making process while nonetheless adhering to the rule of law in its pronouncements. In this context, notes the author, the lasting power of the Court became manifest as a result of Marshall's unique style of leadership. Highly recommended for academic and public libraries. Philip Y. Blue, New York State Supreme Court, Criminal Branch Law Lib., First Judicial District, New York
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
5 star
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See all 6 customer reviews
Newmyer does a great job in weaving Marshall's common sense straight-forward personality into this study.
Forrest Wildwood
This book has an engaging narrative and you seem to read the information quickly and with ease, the author's prose is extremely well-written.
Joe Zika
He was appointed by President John Adams in one of the last and most significant acts of his administration.
Robin Friedman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Robin Friedman HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 30, 2002
Format: Hardcover
John Marshall, our nation's fourth Chief Justice, served from 1801 until 1835. He was appointed by President John Adams in one of the last and most significant acts of his administration.
Professor Kent Newmyer has written a comprehensive account of the great Chief Justice's career. The account is admirably researched and documented, drawing extensively on a new edition of Marshall's papers. It includes careful analyses of Marshall's leading opinions. Most importantly, Professor Newmyer gives a thoughtful discussion of Justice Marshall's place on the Court and on the importance of his vision of the United States for our history.
The book includes a good discussion of Marshall's role in the Revolutionary War, as a successful lawyer in Virginia, and as a landowner and extensive land speculator. But most of the book consists of a discussion of Marshall's career on the Court, his opinions, and the manner in which he shaped the Court as an institution.
While Newmyer admires his subject greatly, I found this a very balanced account. He allows that Justice Marshall did not always meet his own stated goals of separating law from politics and notes how Marshall's activities as a land speculator seemed to play a critical role in several of his leading opinions.
The discussion begins with Marbury v Madison and its role in the doctrine of judicial review. It continues with a thorough discussion of Marshall's role in the treason trial of Aaron Burr, through a discussion of the great opinions construing the Commerce Clause and Contracts Clause of the Constitution, through the Cherokee Nation opinions that Marshall wrote near the end of his tenure which established the foundation of American Indian Law. (Professor Newmyer considers these decisions Justice Marshall's proudest moment.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Joe Zika TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 14, 2002
Format: Hardcover
John Marshall and the Heroic Age of the Supreme Court written by R. Kent Newmyer is a biography about the fourth Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, John Marshall. This is not just an ordinary biography, but a biography with feeling, deep understanding andcomprehensive knowledge of Marshall.
This book is, by far, the most extraordinary biography, and paints a portrait of Chief Justice Marshall, the man, with perception and details , at the same time the author does an exhaustive biography of the jurisprudence of the Marshall Court.
John Marshall, (1801-1835) was appointed to the Supreme Court by John Adams as he was leaving office. A last minute appointment and second cousin to Thomas Jefferson, Marshall served in some of the most formative years that the has ever seen. Marshall wanted to bring the court into the central picture of the government and reigned in the court from the fringes of government, Consolidating the authority of the court making the Supreme Court the final arbitor when it came to constitutional.
John Marshall was a man equal to Jefferson when it came to the challenges of office and was equally skilled at the crafting law that supported the emerging American market economy. It was Jefferson and Marshall, however who symbolized and personalized the competing constitutional persuasions of the age and brought them into explosive focus. Each had taken a stand on the great foreign and domestic issues of the 1790's; each had conflated those issues into a dispute over the meaning of the Constitution. When fate and ambition made Jefferson president and Marshall chief justice, the institutional stage was set for what is one of the most creative confrontations in American constitutional history.
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Michael Heath VINE VOICE on December 29, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Maybe I'm getting spoiled with the recent output of historical profiles that have the narrative quality of great fiction, like Caro's LBJ series, Chernow on Hamilton, and McCullough's books on our founding. Given that high bar, Newmyer's history of Marshall is a very difficult read.

This book plods along. When discussing a principle the court dealt with Newmyer often makes it impossible to keep track of what year or even decade he's referring to, making it difficult to put the principles discussed into the proper context, especially political context. I also felt the book was very biased, glorifying his conservative nationalism without really defining why his brand of nationalism should be considered conservative rather than liberal or even non-ideological.

This book would prove helpful in a Constitutional Law class discussing certain principles and their historical development, especially the rise of Corporations, but only with the guidance of a Professor who knows the era and Marshall's court well and only in small doses. I'm a sucker for books about our founding ideals and the history of our framers, but this was torture and with no obligation to finish this book, I finally gave up about ¾ of the way through, which I rarely do.
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John Marshall and the Heroic Age of the Supreme Court (Southern Biography)
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