1801 - Adam's appoints John Marshall

      At the age of 45, the staunch federalist John Marshall was nominated by President John Adams to become the second chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.   In many respects, this nomination was revenge for Adam's bitter election loss in 1800, as Adam's nemesis, Thomas Jefferson, would now be bedeviled by the federalist viewpoints of his cousin, John Marshall, throughout his presidency. 

(Click here for more on Marshall)

       Like his friend George Washington, John Marshall had a thoroughgoing distrust of Jefferson's political philosophy. Daniel Webster, the great jurist from the state of New Hampshire, would later say of Marshall: "I have never known a man of whose intellect I had a higher opinion."  Marshall's colleague on the high court, Justice Storey would write: "His genius is, in my opinion, vigorous and powerful, less rapid than discerning, and less vivid than uniform in its light...it unravels the mysteries with irresistible acuteness. In subtle logic, he is no unworthy disciple of David Hume..."

       Marshall would write the majority opinion in many landmark decisions that transformed the U.S. Constitution from a document of words and lofty ideas into the actual machinery of government.   He was devoted to the rights of property, to steady government by the educated, wealthy, wise and good, and became the personification of the reaction against popular government that followed the French Revolution.   Among his most profound beliefs was the opinion that the common man, left to themselves, were incapable of self-government.