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1800: Marshall and the Role of the Political Branches

1800: Marshall and the Role of the Political Branches

Chapter:
VII. 1800: Marshall and the Role of the Political Branches
Source:
A Community Built on Words
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226677224.003.0008

For less than six months, between December 1799 and May 1800, John Marshall served in the U.S. House of Representatives. Marshall's enduring fame rests, of course, on his much longer tenure as chief justice of the United States, but during his brief time in the House Marshall showed legislative gifts that, in a different career, would have marked him as a great legislator. With consummate political skill, he labored to bridge the gaps separating the moderate Federalists of the southern and middle states from the High Federalists of the northeast, and to ease the severe alienation between many congressional Federalists and President John Adams, whom Marshall strongly supported. At the same time, Marshall was willing to risk evoking personal and even party disapproval in the interests of what he saw as the greater good: he worked with the Republicans on the highly contentious and generally partisan issue of the Sedition Act.

Keywords:   John Marshall, chief justice, Federalists, political skills, President John Adams, Sedition Act

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