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1791: The National Bank and the Point of Interpretation

1791: The National Bank and the Point of Interpretation

Chapter:
II. 1791: The National Bank and the Point of Interpretation
Source:
A Community Built on Words
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226677224.003.0003

The one constitutional dispute of importance in the early Republic that all American law students invariably study in some detail is the question whether Congress has the power to incorporate a national bank. This is not, to be sure, out of any historical interest in national banks on the part of most constitutional lawyers, or out of any present-day concern over the constitutionality of the Federal Reserve, “to question which would be to lay hands on the Ark of the Covenant.” Students study the issue because Chief Justice John Marshall wrote about it in 1819, memorably and for a unanimous Supreme Court, in M'Culloch v. Maryland. This chapter, however, is concerned with the beginnings of the dispute, in 1791.

Keywords:   constitutional dispute, national bank, Congress, constitutional law, Federal Reserve, Ark of the Covenant

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