(Almost) Hidden DC: Chief Justice John Marshall

Washington, D.C.,  is a city of monuments and memorials, some of the best of them just off a very well beaten track.  Steps away from busy streets are statuary and other works of art representing people and events, minor and major, from America’s past.  When next in the City, check these gems out.

John Marshall may not be America’s first Chief Justice but he is certainly one of the most well known, and the longest serving, as well.  Appointed by John Adams as he was about to leave office in 1801, Marshall served for over 30 years, defining the Court as a co-equal branch of government.  Marshall wrote most of the opinions issued by his Court, including Marbury v Madison, which enshrined their right to declare a law passed by Congress as unconstitutional, initiating the concept of judicial review.  It is said that Marshall wrote the law but was not especially steeped in its precedents.  He once said to Associate Justice Joseph Story, “There, Story; that is the law of this case; now go and find the authorities.”

The bronze statue of Marshall at Constitution Ave and 4th Street, NW, executed by William Wetmore Story is one of  three castings.  Story, coincidentally, is the son of the Justice mentioned above.  The 1883 original is in the basement of the Court and the third is in Philadelphia.


Sources:  Almanac of American History (AS,Jr.),  Goode’s Washington Sculpture, Wiki

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