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A Community Built on WordsThe Constitution in History and Politics$
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H. Jefferson Powell

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780226677231

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226677224.001.0001

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1791: The National Bank and the Point of Interpretation

1791: The National Bank and the Point of Interpretation

II. 1791: The National Bank and the Point of Interpretation
A Community Built on Words
University of Chicago Press

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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