September 24, 1755–July 6,1835
The life of John Marshall, founder of the modern American judiciary and longest serving Chief Justice of the United States, parallels the unfolding of the American experiment in self-government. Coming of age with the new nation, Marshall fought for independence, then served in all three branches of the federal government. During his thirty-four years as Chief Justice, Marshall made his most lasting contributions to the nation by developing the Court into what it is today—a co-equal branch of the federal government with powers to check and balance those of the executive and legislative divisions. John Marshall’s body of work strengthened a fragile early Republic, was later foundational to civil rights, and continues to uphold the Supreme Court’s authority to judge the constitutionality of state laws, acts of Congress, and those of the President.