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John Marshall

Marshall, John (1755–1835), fourth chief justice of the United States, known as the “Great Chief Justice.” He established the modern status of the Supreme Court. He served in the Revolutionary War, studied law, and was elected to the Virginia legislature in 1782. A staunch Federalist, he supported acceptance of the Constitution. He declined ministerial posts but became one of the U.S. negotiators who resolved the XYZ Affair (1797–98). Elected to Congress in 1799, he was made secretary of state by President John Adams (1800–01). In 1801 he became chief justice. He labored to increase the then-scant power and prestige of the Supreme Court. In Marbury v. Madison he established the Court's power to review a law and, if necessary, declare it unconstitutional. An opponent of states' rights, he established in McCulloch v. Maryland and Gibbons v. Ogden the superiority of federal authority under the Constitution.

See also: Supreme Court of the United States.

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