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LIFE CHARACTER AND INFLUENCE
CHIEF JUSTICE MARSHALL
DELIVERED AT RICHMOND ON THE FOURTH DAY OF FEBRUARY 1901
VIRGINIA AND THE BAR ASSOCIATION OF
THE CITY OF RICHMOND
PEARSON PRINTING OFFICE
GL GIFT 3.9 73
Gentlemen of the Bar of the Commonwealth
of Virginia, and of the City of Richmond : One hundred years ago to-day, the Supreme Court of the United States, after sitting for a few years in Philadelphia, met for the first time in Washington, the permanent capital of the Nation; and John Marshall, a citizen of Virginia, having his home in Richmond, and a member of this bar, took his seat as Chief Justice of the United States.
In inviting a citizen of another ancient Commonwealth to take part in your commemoration of that epoch in our national history, by addressing you on the Life, Character and Influence of Chief Justice Marshall, you have been pleased to mention that it was President John Adams, of Massachusetts, who gave Chief Justice Marshall to the Nation, and that I am a citizen of Massachusetts and a member of the court over which Chief Justice Marshall presided; and to refer to the most cordial relations formerly existing between your State and my own, now happily restored, and, as we all trust, being reëstablished in a closer degree.
Heartily reciprocating your kindly sentiments, and deeply touched in my inmost feelings and convictions, your invitation has had the force of a summons that could not be gainsaid.
Permit me, in this connection, to recall one or two allusions by Marshall himself to the sympathy which existed between Virginia and Massachusetts in the trying times of the Revolutionary War and of the Continental Congress.
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. I bibed these sentiments so there carrier enstitused a part of my being. I carried them to be into the arıny, where I found myseif ass cratei Tito brire men from different States, who were risking se ani everything valuable in a common cause, feierei jv all to be most precious; and where I was iepirnei in the habit of considering America as my country, aali Congress is my government.”
Before the adoption of the Constitution, one of the chief defects in the government of the United States
was the want of a national judiciary, of which there was no trace other than in the tribunals constituted by the Continental Congress, under powers specifically conferred by the Articles of Confederation, for the decision of prize causes, or of controversies between two or more States.
Among the objects of the Constitution, as declared in the preamble, the foremost, next after the paramount aim "to form a more perfect Union," is to “establish justice.” It ordains that the judicial power of the United States shall be vested in “one Supreme Court,” and in such
‘, inferior courts as Congress may from time to time establish; that the judicial power shall extend to “all cases, in law and equity, arising under this Constitution, the laws of the United States, and treaties made, or which shall be made, under their authority," and to other classes of cases specified; that the Supreme Court, in cases affecting ambassadors, public ministers and consuls, or to which a State shall be party, shall have original jurisdiction; and, in all the other cases before mentioned, shall have appellate jurisdiction, with such exceptions and under such regulations as Congress shall make; and that “this Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof, and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every State shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding."
On the 24th of September, 1789, the first Congress under the Constitution passed the Judiciary Act, which had been framed by Oliver Ellsworth, then a Senator from Connecticut. That act has always been regarded as a contemporaneous construction of the Constitution; and, with some modifications, remains to this day the foundation of the jurisdiction and practice of the courts of the United States. It provided that the Supreme Court should consist of a Chief Justice, and of five Associate Justices who should