100 Americans Making Constitutional History: A Biographical History presents 100 profiles of the key people behind some of the most important U.S. Supreme Court cases. Edited by Melvin I. Urofsky, a respected constitutional historian, each 2,000-word profile delves into the social and political context behind landmark Court decisions. For example, while a case like Brown v. Board of Education is about an important idea—the equal protection of the law—at its heart it is the story of a little girl, Linda Brown, who wanted to go to a decent school near her home. The outcome is accessible and objective “stories” about the individuals—heroes and scoundrels—who fought their way to constitutional history.

John Marshall

John Marshall

The Disposition of Lord Fairfax's Lands

“The Absolute Right of Decision, in the Last Resort, Must Rest Somewhere”

Fairfax's Devisee v. Hunter's Lessee

11 U.S. (7 Cranch) 603 (1813)

Martin v. Hunter's Lessee

14 U.S. (1 Wheat.) 304 (1816)

John Marshall (1755–1835) was born in a log cabin on the Virginia frontier, the first of the fifteen children of Thomas and Mary Marshall. Through his mother he claimed kinship with several of Virginia's “first families,” such as the Lees and Randolphs. Marshall began his schooling at home, and, as he later recalled, his father “superintended my education and gave me an early taste for history and poetry.” He had only two years of formal schooling before the War for Independence broke out and he enlisted with the Third Virginia ...

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