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Stebbins, Calvin 

JOHN KABBHALL 


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STANFORD LAW 
LIBRARY 




IN 
MEMORY OF 



HENRY VROOMAN 



JOHN MARSHALL 

CHIEF JUSTICE 
UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT 

1801-1835 



A DISCOURSE 

DBI«rVBRED AT THE 

FIRST PARISH CHURCH 

FRAMINGHAM 
JANUARY 27th, 1901 



By CALVIN STpBBINS 

PKINTBD BY HBQUSST 



FRABUNGHAM, MASS. 
1901 






THIS DISCOURSB WAS AI^O DBI^IVBRBD BBFORB THB STUD8NTS OF 
WIIfUSTON SBMINARY, BASTHAMPTON, MASS., A.T THB RBQUBST OP 
THB PACUI^TY, PBBRUARY, 4, I9OI. 




JOHN MARSHALL 



A WIS9 JUDG« WII,!, INSTRUCT HIS P«OPI.«. 

The Wisdom of Jesus the son of Sirach x: /. 

The Constitution of the United States, for so import- 
ant a document, is remarkable on account of its brevity. 
You can read it aloud, amendments and all, in twenty- 
three or four minutes. It is only about half as long as 
the Constitution of the little Commonwealth of Massachu- 
setts. Its lofty purposes are stated with great clearness 
and force in the preamble. But the powers granted to 
the federal government by the people were of such a 
general nature that differences of opinion and conflict of 
laws would inevitably arise. For interpretation and ad- 
judication a court of final appeal was established, and its 
members were placed beyond the reach of party spirit or 
popular feeling. This court, the Supreme Court of the 
United States, has been justly called *'the living voice of 
the Constitution." 

Under this Constitution, as construed by the Supreme 
Court, we have become one of the most progressive peoples 
of modem time. Our material prosperity has been unprec- 
edented. And with our increasing strength there has 
steadily been growing through the length and breadth of 
our vast domain both the sentiment and the conviction, 
that we are one people, that we are a nation, with a 
general government for general purposes and local govern- 
ments for local purposes. To use the language of the court 
itself: — '* We are an indestructible Union of indestructible 
Stotes." 



4 JOHN MARSHALL 

This great tribunal did not attract much attention at its 
organization. Even the place where its sessions were held 
during the first twelve years of its existence cannot now 
be pointed out. Its duties were not onerous, as the first 
Chief Justice, John Jay, found time to visit England and 
. negotiate the famous treaty which bears his name. Nor 
could it then have been regarded as a post of great honor, 
since Jay resigned it to become governor of the State of 
New York. A lawyer would hardly do that today to be 
president of the United States. 

After the resignation of Chief Justice Ellsworth, near 
the close of the year 1800, President Adams, then in the 
last months of his administration, saw an opportunity to 
check what seemed to him the dangerous tendencies of the 
party just coming into power and perpetuate the principles 
which he thought essential to the prosperity of the country. 
On the 31st of January, 1801, he wrote to the Secretary 
of War and asked him **to execute the office of the 
Secretary of State so far as to affix the seal of the United 
States to the enclosed commission to the present Secretary 
of State, John Marshall of Virginia, to be Chief Justice of 
the United States." Mr. Adams used to say that the 
appointment of John Marshall to be Chief Justice was the 
greatest service he had ever rendered his country. 

By a strange irony of Fate the first duty that fell to 
the new Chief Justice was no other than to administer the 
oath of office t6 the incoming President, Thomas Jefferson. 
To us, as we look back to that Fourth of March, a strange 
scene presents itself. Two men who had no sympathy 
with each other and no opinions in common, who looked 
vUpon each other as anything but honorable or honest, 
stood face to face, and each was perhaps inwardly pledg- 
ing himself to wage war to the knife upon the other. 

The inauguration over, the two great representatives of 
the antagonistic elements in the political life of the young 
republic went their wajrs, — the President and his party to 



JOHN MARSHALL 5 

rule the country for years to come, the Chief Justice to his 
untrodden, thorny and difficult path. He was an object 
of party hate, but the hate was not unmixed with fear. 
He had hardly entered upon the discharge of his duties 
when the operations of his court were suspended for four- 
teen months. But his patience was superb. He had a 
broad, powerful, subtle and prophetic mind, and a genius 
for the law as great as Napoleon had for war. He was 
indeed modest and retiring, but he did not lack courage 
and firmness and his powerful personality made itself felt 
in time. He gained a victory for his principles in the end 
along all lines; he won for his court the respect of a 
reluctant people, and lifted it from obscurity to a place 
among the most august tribunals on earth. 

Few men in' our history have had their courage so 
taxed as Marshall. The President was inimical to him 
personally, the administration and the victorious party 
which had brought it triumphantly into power were hostile 
to the court over which he was called to preside. This 
was surely bad enough, but it was by no means all. The 
nation, the Constitution and the laws were young. The 
court itself was an untried experiment. Such an institu- 
tion was altogether unknown to the history of law, ancient 
or modem. There was no experience to guide him. But 
he felt that the destinies of the nation hung upon his 
court, and we know now they did. 

No man ever felt more profoundly the truth of the 
great statement of old Richard Hooker : — ' * Of law nothing 
less can be said than that her seat is in the bosom of God, 
her voice is the harmony of the world: all things in 
heaven and earth do her homage, the very least as feeling 
her care, the greatest as not exempt from her power: both 
angels and men and creatures of what condition soever, 
though each in different sort and manner, yet all with 
uniform consent admiring her as the mother of their peace 
and joy." 



6 JOHN MARSHALL 

No man ever felt more deeply than Marshall the 
dignity and the responsibilities of the office he held. 
Rarely if ever have great powers been so conscientiously 
and courageously devoted to the discharge of the duties of 
such an office. He believed in an independent judiciary 
and he held his court in regions high above the threats of 
power or the menaces of the people's whims, which, as 
has been well said, are too often mistaken for the will of 
the people. In no case did he ever shield himself from 
odium by accepting the judgment of a prejudiced public 
as the judgment of his court. 

During a famous state trial, the trial of Aaron Burr, 
which was held at Richmond, the popular feeling ran 
high against Burr and all the powers of the administration 
were used to secure a conviction. The prisoner at the 
bar was, in the eyes of the Chief Justice, the murderer of 
his friend Alexander Hamilton; but, bad as his reputation 
was and under the suspicion of treason against the country 
which had honored him with the second place in the gift 
of her people, he could not be convicted in that court 
without the evidence which the Constitution required in 
such cases. For once the Chief Justice alluded, in his 
charge to the jury, to the state of public feeling. The 
temper of his mind and the moral grandeur of his 
character are clearly revealed in the familiar paragraph 
beginning : — * ' That this court dares not usurp power is 
most true. That this court does not shrink from its duty 
is no less true." 

But Marshall was a great man as well as a great chief 
justice. Many of the men whom the world accounts great 
have limitations that are painfully apparent when we are 
brought into close relations with them. Like the border 
hills on which the horizon seems to rest they look very 
beautiful but oftentimes 

*"Ti8 distance lends enchantment to the view 
And robes the mountain with its axnre hne.*' 



JOHN MARSHALL 7 

Marshall belonged to that rare class of men who make 

human nature beautiful on close inspection. The graces 
of his affections in the quiet of home, and his thoughtful 
kindness to all in the ordinary relations of life, were as 
beautiful as his abilities on the bench were great. 

He was indeed a man of head, but his heart was a 
perennial fountain of good feeling for all. He was amiable 
as well as great, and charmed all who came near him by 
the native kindness, gentleness, simplicity and modesty of 
his character. The awe that the great Chief Justice 
would very naturally inspire on account of the high office 
he held and his commanding influence was lost in social life 
in reverent admiration for the man. There was something 
genuine in his manners, in all that he said, and in every- 
thing that he did. *' I love," said an eminent advocate, 
'' I love his laugh, it is too hearty for an intriguer." 

Coleridge used to say that he had seldom known or 
heard of any great man who had not much of the woman 
in him. This was eminently true of Marshall, His 
majestic intellect was coupled with all the softer feelings 
that belong so pre-eminently to woman and for woman he 
had a high regard. In acknowledging a copy of Story's 
Phi Beta Kappa Oration at Cambridge he wrote : — ' ' I have 
read it with real pleasure and am particularly gratified 
with your eulogy on the ladies. It is a matter of great 
satisfaction to me to find another Judge, who, though not 
so old as myself, thinks justly of the fair sex, and commits 
his sentiments to print. ' ' He however, expresses astonish- 
ment at the fact that Story omitted the name of Miss 
Austen from his list of favorites, and adds: — **I shall 
count on your making some apology for the omission." 

He was greatly delighted with a fine passage on the 
Lady Arabella Johnson in another of Story's orations, and 
wrote to the author expressing his pleasure and added a 
neat compliment to the silent partner. *' Present my 
compliments to Mrs, Story and say to her for me that a 



8 JOHN MARSHALL 

lady receives the highest compliment her husband can pay 
her when he expresses an exalted opinion of the sex, 
because the world will believe that it is formed on the 
model he sees at home." 

Harriet Martineau saw him in Washington the year 
before his death. He was then an old man, having almost 
reached the summit of eighty years. *' How delighted we 
were," she writes, *' to see Judge Story bring in the tall, 
majestic, bright-eyed old man, old by chronology, by the 
lines in his composed face, and by his services to the 
republic, but so dignified, so fresh, so present to the time, 
that no compassionate consideration for age dared to mix 
with the contemplation of him." She notes that, *'He 
maintained through life and carried to his grave a reverence 
for woman, as rare in its kind as in its degree." 

His emotions were easily touched and he was not 
ashamed of them. When Daniel Webster closed his four 
hour argtunent in the Dartmouth College case, a piece of 
cold legal reasoning: He paused for a moment, then 
turning to the court, and with breast heaving with stormy 
emotions, made his appeal as a college boy for his Alma 
Mater. It was one of the most remarkable scenes ever 
witnessed in that court or in any other. **The Chief 
Justice leaned forward as if to catch the slightest whisper, 
the deep furrows of his cheeks expanded with emotion and 
his eyes suffused with tears." 

Marshall was a lover of the stage and took high 
delight in seeing Fanny Kemble. He seemed never to 
understand the applause when he entered his box, but the 
actress was as perfect a master of his emotions as of the 
younger of the audience. 

His nature was generous and open as the day. He 
had the rare faculty of keeping the friendship and regard 
of even those whom he had superseded in office. For his 
opponents, in very many cases, he cherished the kindest 
personal feelings, as for James Madison, the mention of 



JOHN MARSHALL 9 

whose name would kindle his enthusiasm. Political war- 
fate waged on the plain of personal vituperation was very 
distasteful to him, and nothing grieved him so much as 
when his friends were led into unbecoming recriminations. 

To him friendship was not only one of the highest 
privileges of human nature, but one of its purest enjoy- 
ments. **The esteem of those we esteem," he writes, **is 
among the most delightful sensations of the human nature: ' ' 
and again he states the same thought in another way: — 
**No gratification is more pure or more exalting than the 
regard of those we esteem." 

The gentle qualities of his heart did not, as is some- 
times the case, disturb the balance of his mind, but were 
rather an inspiration to his powers of reasoning, for, with 
prophetic imagination, he foresaw the evil that would be 
escaped and the good that would result from the principles 
he sought to establish. 

He was singularly independent and singularly depen- 
dent upon others. He was very anxious to hear arguments 
in his court, listened with patient attention, and always 
treated Advocates of the cause with great courtesy, but he 
analyzed their discussion with the remorseless logic of a 
mind that went to the root of the subject at once. He 
had an extraordinary power of terse and lucid statement. 
He saw the fallacy of an argument as by intuition, and he 
had what William Wirt called * * a superhuman power ' ' to 
reduce it to its simplest term, and he did not leave it until 
he had deduced from it fatal conclusions. When he 
approached one of these arguments and felt that he must 
get it out of his way, he had a favorite phrase which 
he used as a sort of prelude to the destruction which was 
coming. Daniel Webster once said to Judge Story: — 
** When Judge Marshall says, *It is admitted,' Sir, I am 
preparing for a bomb to burst over my head and demolish 
all my points." 



lO JOHN MARSHAU 

His legal learning was not great, but his sense of 
right, legal and moral, was both great and clear. He 
seldom cited authorities in his judgments, and in several 
which are looked upon as his greatest he has fearlessly 
proceeded on the strength of his own reasoning. He is 
reported to have sometimes said in closing some of his 
masterly decisions: — * 'These seem to me to be the conclu- 
sions to which we are conducted by reason and the spirit 
of the law. Brother Story will furnish the authorities.'* 

One of the most remarkable things about the Chief 
Justice was the simplicity of his mind. He was perfectly 
at home in discussing the great problems of the law, but 
his mind proceeded on very simple and commonplace truths 
that lie close to nature and to life. To the mind of the 
ordinary man, it is to be feared, in as well as out of the 
profession, the law is the most inexplicable of all subjects 
that do not claim to be a mystery to start with. There is 
some satisfaction in knowing that a thing is a mystery, 
for that settles the question. There is an impression, 
however, more or less distinct, that the law is not a 
mystery. The law in Marshall's hands, although the case 
might involve the most perplexing constitutional questions, 
seemed to be covered by Professor Huxley's definition of 
science as ' ' nothing but trained and organized common 
sense." 

When Marshall came to the bench he found the simple 
and admirable mechanism of our national judicial system 
in running order. It had been conceived by the genius of 
his predecessor. Chief Justice Ellsworth. It now became 
his duty to set it running. It makes one shudder to think 
of the results, had a weak man or a partisan of the popular 
doctrine of the age been in his place. 

** It would be an instructive historical study," says an 
eminent lawyer and statesman, '^ to take the great consti- 
tutional judgments of John Marshall in cases where the 
decisions of State courts were reversed, and consider what 



JOHN MARSHALL II 

would have been the cotirse of our history had the decision 
been otherwise. Reverse Gibbons v. Ogden, and com- 
merce would become subject to the varying laws and 
manifold exactions of thirty-eight States. Reverse Dart- 
mouth College V. Woodward, and every institution of 
learning and charity becomes subject to a popular caprice. 
Reverse McCuUoch v. Maryland, and the policies which 
saved the Union become unlawful." 

The first case involving a constitutional question brought 
before Chief Justice Marshall was the celebrated case of 
Marbury v. Madison. He was in this brought into open 
opposition to the administration, as the case involved some 
of the President Jefferson's favorite opinions on which he 
had been acting. But the Chief Justice neither hesitated 
nor flinched. His judgment was a very carefully prepared 
paper and foreshadowed his doctrine of the supremacy of 
the Constitution. He announced the inviolability of con- 
tracts, — a hard hit at the President; he declared an act 
of Congress not made in pursuance with the Constitution 
void, and, with a wealth of reasoning that put the question 
beyond dispute from that day to this, he declared that all 
officers, ministerial and executive, all over the country 
were under the control of the courts; for this, he said, 
^ * makes the difference between a government of laws and 
a government of men," The President and his cabinet 
were furious, but there was no remedy ; the Chief Justice 
understood his court, knew his ground and had decided 
nothing outside the case. 

The existence of our nationality has been menaced from 
the first by a patriarchal institution and by a set of ultra 
opinions on the rights of the states. Early in our history 
they showed what might be called an elective affinity for 
each other, and finally they joined hands and took each 
other for better or worse, for richer or poorer, to love and 
to cherish until they died together. 



13 JOHN MARSHALL 

Marshall was a slaveholder by inheritance^ but he held 
the views common among the best men of his time and 
State. He held with them that it was the plague-spot on 
our political system, but like them he was helpless and 
could not so much as suggest a remedy for an evil so 
gigantic. He saw that in the nature of things it would 
develop into something dreadful. To him the slave trade, 
as he said, ' ' was a horrid traffic detested by all good men. ' ' 
He spoke of the institution itself as ^ ' more degrading to 
the master than to the slave. ' ' In a letter to Col. Timothy 
Pickering, written the 20th of March, 1826, he goes to the 
heart of the subject. "I concur with you,'* he writes, 
^ ^ in thinking that nothing portends more calamity and 
mischief to our Southern States than their slave population. 
Yet," — and this is the pith of the whole matter — "yet 
they seem to cherish the evil and to view with immovable 
prejudice and dislike everything which may tend to di- 
minish it. I do not wonder that they should resist any 
attempt, should one be made, to interfere with the rights 
of property, but they have a feverish jealousy of measures 
which may do good without the hazard of harm, that is, 
I think, very unwise." 

Thus, while he shared the fears of many thoughtful 
men, that dangers would arise from the slaves themselves, 
he saw, however, more clearly and more deeply, and not 
without alarm, the rise and growth of a spirit the result 
of which no human wisdom could divine. He could see 
but one result, and that was disastrous to the Union. 
*' I yield slowly and reluctantly," writes the aged Chief 
Justice, **to the conviction that our Constitution cannot 
last. The case of the South seems to me desperate. 
The Union has been prolonged thus far by miracles I 
fear they cannot endure." 

Vaulting ambition may hope to jump the world to 
come, but it sometimes overleaps itself in this world. 
The spirit that Marshall so feared, at last led its devotees 



JOHN MARSHALL 13 

to throw an industrial institution based on status in the 
path of an industrial civilization based on contract. The 
conflict had been allowed, by ^'a power that works for 
righteousness not of man," to reach that stage in the 
debates of the senate, before it appealed to arms, where 
compromise was absolutely impossible. When the crisis 
really came no power on earth could call a halt or a truce, 
and heaven waited in silence the result. It was a veritable 
death-grapple. In the eternal fitness of things no military 
genius however great, no courage however heroic, could 
save slavery and its ally State- Rights from going with 
hideous ruin down to ''the coasts of dark destruction," 
or impair the supremacy of the Constitution of the United 
States. 

In the preparative for this glorious consummation the 
great Chief Justice was an important and influential factor. 
Justice has hardly been done as yet to the influence his 
masterly judgments had in stimulating and cherishing the 
sentiment of union and the supremacy of the Constitution. 

Marshall was by nature an ardent patriot. He fought 
in the Revolution, not for Virginia alone, but for the 
whole cotmtry. In his first public address, he spoke of 
''our fellow citizens of Boston." A boy in his teens, as 
lieutenant he led his men at the brilliant charge at Great 
Bridge; as captain he fought at Iron Hill, Brandywine, 
Germantown and Monmouth, and charged with "Mad" 
Anthony Wayne at Stony Point. He endured the winter 
at Valley Forge, and was everywhere looked upon as a 
cheerful man, endowed with great patience, courage and 
sound judgment. 

When the war was over and the Federal government 
supplanted the Confederation, he was ready for even so 
great a change. He was an ardent believer in the principles 
of the Constitution and in the great possibilities of the 
American people under it, and his civic virtues were quite 
as conspicuous as his military. He never sought office, 



14 JOHN MARSHALI^ 

but his services were more than once required in the 
State Legislature, and he was a member of the convention 
of Virginia that ratified the Constitution. He was a 
Federalist, and his party was always in a hopeless minor- 
ity, but his personal popularity always secured him an 
election. 

His reputation soon passed beyond the boundaries of 
his State. President Adams appointed him one of the 
envoys extraordinary to France. The embassy was a 
great failure. The Directory which then governed France 
with Napoleon Bonaparte at its head, notified, through its 
agents called X, Y, Z, the representatives of the little 
republic under the setting sun, that it would be necessary 
to give the Directory 50,000 pounds, or 250,000 dollars, to 
be divided among its members and negotiate a loan from the 
United States to France before grievances could be listened 
to or a treaty negotiated. The whole matter, so insulting 
to America, was at last disposed of by Marshall in the 
declaration : *'No! no! Not a penny." On his return to 
America he was greeted with great enthusiam. At a 
banquet given in his honor a toast was proposed, the 
spirit of which has been our policy as a nation ever 
since : — * * Millions for defense but not one cent for tribute. ' ' 

At the personal request of Washington, then living 
in honorable retirement at Mount Vernon, he became a 
candidate for Congress and was elected. But his con- 
gressional career was short, as he resigned at the close 
of the first session to become Secretary of State, from 
which office he was raised by President Adams, as already 
stated, to the Supreme Bench. 

He entered upon his high office with, as we have seen, 
large experience of affairs, and with high but practical 
ideas of law and government. He looked from the first 
upon the government under the Constitution as a national 
government. It was to him not a mere confederacy or 
league of states; nor did he look upon the Constitution 



JOHN. MARSHALL 15 

as a compact between sovereign and independent states ; 
but he looked upon the national government as a veritable 
government endowed by the people in the Constitution 
with powers to protect and perpetuate itself and execute 
all the laws made by Congress in pursuance of the 
Constitution. 

It is safe to say that no instrument of equal length has 
excited so much discussion as our Constitution. A distin- 
guished English publicist goes so far as to say that ' ' with 
perhaps the exception of the New Testament, the Koran, 
the Pentateuch and the Digest of Justinian, no writings 
have employed so much ingenuity and labor as the 
American Constitution in sifting, weighing, twisting and 
torturing its text. ' ' 

This discussion was indeed unexpected, but yet it was 
perfectly natural. It arose, not because the principles of 
the Constitution were imperfectly or incorrectly stated, 
but because they were great principles and were broadly 
stated. No statement of great principles can be made 
with mathematical precision. There must be room, yes, 
space for them to stand in. They cannot be roofed in, 
they must have the sky over them. You cannot cut 
a colossus from a pebble and you cannot hide a colossus 
in a pebble. 

Amid the babel of tongues and the sharp conflict of 
local interests which sometimes verged upon an appeal 
to arms, the interpretation of this remarkable instrument 
became a matter of suprejne importance. The vital 
question when reduced to lowest terms was this: — Shall 
the Ship of State be anchored in the harbor of State 
Rights, there to rot, or shall it boldly ride the seas of 
time under the stars of great principles? If it should 
venture out of the harbor and be caught by a freshening 
breeze, has every plank of which it is composed a right 
to secede ? or is it a real ship, built upon honor by men 
with empires in their brains, going on a great mission, 



1 6 JOHN MARSHALL 

with the confidence of a loyal people who love Liberty 
and Union, to contend with what comes: 

'* Her ports all up, her battle-lanterns lit, 
And her leashed thnnders gathering for their leap." 

ft 

Fortunately, or, as I believe, providentially — for there 
must always be a sufficient reason for the appearance of 
a great man in history — God never uses a locomotive 
to draw a straw, — a man was raised up able to interpret 
our Constitution according to Law as seen in the light 
of the great purposes for which it was made, and thus 
prepare the way for the triumphant story that has fol- 
lowed, of increasing prosperity, liberty, influence and 
power. 

This instrument, according to the Great Chief Justice, 
contains an enumeration of powers expressly granted by 
the people to their government. To say that the inten- 
tion of the instrument must prevail, that this intention 
must be collected from its words, that its words are to be 
understood in the sense in which they are generally used 
by those for whom the instrument was intended, that its 
provisions are neither to be restricted into insignificance 
nor extended to objects not contemplated in them, nor 
contemplated by its framers, was the opinion that he ever 
kept in view as the foundation of his decisions and his 
judgments, and his principles of interpretation cannot be 
controverted. 

Many eminent lawyers were associated on the bench 
with Chief Justice Marshall during his thirty-four years' 
tenure of office. Some were appointed to counteract his 
influence. But the pre-eminence of his great personality 
.and lofty character is strikingly illustrated by the fact 
that, of the sixty-one decisions of cases involving con- 
stitutional questions during his long term of office, in only 
one did he read a dissenting opinion. 



JOHN MARSHALL l^ 

Lawyers as eminent as any in our history appeared at 
the bar. There were men there then who made even 
Daniel Webster put forth all his powers. They did much, 
without doubt, to illuminate the questions before the court. 
But all these men, Webster among them, looked up to the 
Chief Justice. His majestic intellect, the elevation of his 
character, his genius for the law, his courage and his 
caution, make him for them all the Great Chief Justice. 

But what has been the result of his work? When John 
Marshall took his seat upon the Supreme Bench, a century 
ago, the Constitution of the United States was a piece of 
paper, a written document, rigid and stiff as a dead man's 
hand. Under his touch it showed signs of life, became 
wonderfully flexible and began a marvelous growth, a 
growth of power, strong and quick to protect, gentle and 
generous in the government of a people who enjoy as large 
an amount of liberty as the most favored nations on earth 
in the past or the present. 

Mankind have always held in high esteem, and rightly, 
the great lawgivers. They have laid the foundations of 
states and empires and made possible the realizations of at 
least some measure of justice and right. But as civiliza- 
tion advances, as high a place belongs to the great lawyer, 
to the great expounders of the law, for they develop and 
make clear its principles and their application to life. It 
was a saying of Goethe that if you plant an acorn in a vase 
you must stunt the oak or break the vase. The great ex- 
pounders of the law without violence give the oak a chance 
to grow. 

It is no exaggeration, as one of our own great jurists 
has said, to call Marshall ''the second maker of the Con- 
stitution.'' So impressed was Professor Bryce, the latest 
foreign student at our institution, with what we owe to 
Marshall that he said: — '*I will not borrow the phrase 
which was said of Augustus, that he found Rome of brick 
and left it of marble, because Marshall's function was not 



l8 JOHN MARSHALL 

to change but to develop. He found the Constitution at 
the beginning of the century what Washington then was, 
a symmetrical ground plan for a great city, and left it 
what Washington has become, a splendid and commodious 
Capital, worthy to be the centre of a mighty nation.'* 

And he adds : — * ' His work of building up and working 
out the Constitution was accomplished not so much by the 
decisions he gave as by the judgments in which he 
expounded the principles of these decisions, judgments 
which, for their philosophical breadth, the luminous 
exactness of their reasoning, and the fine political sense 
which pervades them, have never been surpassed and 
rarely equaled by the famous jurists of modem Europe or 
ancient Rome." 

This is indeed a high tribute to the genius of our great 
Chief Justice, but there is another greater yet that speaks 
out of the growth and expansion of our national institu- 
tions and life. In a government like ours: — **a govern- 
ment of laws and not of men,'* there are few, if any greater 
blessings, that even Heaven itself can bestow upon us as 
a people, than a great lawyer. This blessing came to us 
in John Marshall. He came at the right time, when 
our political ideas and institutions were in a formative 
state, and his influence has increased with the advancing 
years of the century until, in our minds, ** Liberty and 
Union have become one and inseperable," and Liberty 
and Law have come into such close relations that we say 
of them : — 

" O Law, fair form of Liberty, God*t light it on thy brow ; 
O Liberty, the soul of Law, Ood't very aelf art thou." 

It is indeed a happy coincidence, that as the nineteenth 
century goes out, we come on the threshold of the 
twentieth to the centennial of so great an event, an event 
of profoundest import and influence upon our destiny as a 



JOHN MARSHALL IQ 

nation as the elevation of John Marshall to be the Chief 
Justice of the Supreme Court. As we look at his tre- 
mendous personality and his exalted character, and trace 
the amazing influence he has exerted upon our national 
life, we can feel a new courage, because we find that our 
hopes for our country have foundations that cannot be 
shaken, for : — 

" On God and Godlike men we bnild our tmtt.*' 

Out of the glorious century that has just triumphantly 
closed, out of its splendid achievements for man come 
many voices of the great and the good, but none speak in 
clearer accents than those out of our own marvelous 
history, and none of these more clearly than that of the 
patriot lawyer, the Chief Justice, who laid the deep foun- 
dations of "Liberty and Union" in I^aw, and by his 
construction of the Constitution gave us a nationality, and 
gave the nation a future, a future of ever increasing intelli- 
gence and power to serve the highest interests of humanity, 
and in reverent tones it says to every American citizen : — 

" Pray God onr greatness may not fail 
Thro' craven fears of being great." 



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