Skip to main content

John Marshall

Our greatest Chief Justice defined the Constitution and ensured that the rule of law prevailed at a time of Presidential overreach and bitter political factionalism.

The 1807 trial of Aaron Burr challenged the Constitution

In late March 1807 Aaron Burr arrived in Richmond, Virginia, in a vile mood, filthy and stinking. He had just endured a month of hard travel under heavy guard through the dense forests of the Southeast.

Critical decisions by the Chief Justice saved the Supreme Court’s independence—and made possible its wide-ranging role today

Most jurists and constitutional scholars today would probably contend that the most controlling precedent to be set in the early republic was laid down in the 1803 Marbury v. Madison decision. While a formidable ruling, it was not, however, the decisive moment—at least not to people at the time.

Neither the Constitution nor the laws but John Marshall made the Court Supreme

It has always been politics as usual

Supreme Court vacancies have provoked fierce, colorful—and wholly partisan—battles since the earliest years of the Republic
In this year of the bicentennial of the Constitution, American Heritage asked a number of historians, authors, and public figures to address themselves to one or both of these questions:

The framers of the Constitution were proud of what they had done but might be astonished that their words still carry so much weight. A distinguished scholar tells us how the great charter has survived and flourished.

Banking as we’ve known it for centuries is dead, and we don’t really know the consequences of what is taking its place. A historical overview.

For the last several years congressional committees and presidential task forces have been nattering back and forth about what should be done to change the legal order that establishes and specifically empowers and regulates the nation’s banks.

WHERE DID IT GO?

As we commemorate the anniversary of the founding of our nation we are conscious of a paradox: we have almost miraculously maintained the continuity of those institutions which the Founding Fathers created, but in large measure we have betrayed the principles

Between its grim beginning on a Virginia plantation and its surprising end at a great New York estate, the career of Nancy Randolph involved many of the famous figures of the post-Revolutionary era. The lovers, the scorned ex-suitor, the cheated wife, all four were cousins in a great southern dynasty. This tale of hate and “honor” is recounted by a descendant of Edmund Randolph, the first Attorney General of the United States

Enjoy our work? Help us keep going.

Now in its 75th year, American Heritage relies on contributions from readers like you to survive. You can support this magazine of trusted historical writing and the volunteers that sustain it by donating today.

Donate