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What Kind of Nation: Thomas Jefferson, John…

What Kind of Nation: Thomas Jefferson, John Marshall, and the Epic…

by James F. Simon

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5021. What Kind of Nation Thomas Jefferson, John Marshall, and the Epic Struggle to Create a United States, by James F. Simon (read 6 May 2013) This is a kind of popular history of the effort by John Marshall to make the Federal government stronger than Jefferson thought it should be. The history of the conflict between Jefferson's ideas as to the strength of the Federal Government and Marshall's views is well told. Since Marshall was on the Supreme Court from 1801 till he died in 1834 his views prevailed--I think to the benefit of the country. All the big Marshall cases, from Marbury v. Madison on, are discussed, as well as the Aaron Burr treason trial. I found the book made the events that it related easy to understand and full of interest. ( )
  Schmerguls | May 6, 2013 |
The title does not fully reflect the author's priorities. This book focuses on John Marshall and three of his major decisions. As Thomas Jefferson happened to be president at that time and often took an opposing viewpoint to Marshall, the title is still merited, even if the two men's opinions were in far greater agreement than the author makes believe. The book is divided into eleven chapters, starting with the conflict between Adams and Jefferson before giving an excellent summary of the two protagonists' careers. The main part of the book is devoted to three decisions of Marshall: Marbury v. Madison, the impeachment of Justice Chase and the trial of Aaron Burr.

Despite their different political views, Jefferson and Marshall had a lot in common. After all, they were both Virginians, Marshall's mother being Thomas Jefferson's cousin, lawyers and brilliant thinkers, working to help the nascent United States of America and its government machine grow. Both played Calvinball with the Constitution. Marshall was, for over a month, both chief justice and secretary of state - a clear violation of the separation of powers principle and did not recuse himself from Marbury v. Madison despite having his and his brother's fingers all over the case. Jefferson acquired the Louisiana territory in an extra-constitutional manner. Together, they achieved to create some sort of balance between the judicial and executive service, shown in Marshall's elegant handling of America's dirty founding father, Aaron Burr. The checks, Marshall imposed on Jefferson, were just the sort the Adams presidency lacked - which might explain the difference of their long-term impact. ( )
  jcbrunner | Nov 9, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0684848716, Paperback)

The bitter and protracted struggle between President Thomas Jefferson and Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall defined the basic constitutional relationship between the executive and judicial branches of government. More than one hundred fifty years later, their clashes still reverberate in constitutional debates and political battles.

In this dramatic and fully accessible account of these titans of the early republic and their fiercely held ideas, James F. Simon brings to life the early history of the nation and sheds new light on the highly charged battle to balance the powers of the federal government and the rights of the states. A fascinating look at two of the nation's greatest statesmen and shrewdest politicians, What Kind of Nation presents a cogent, unbiased assessment of their lasting impact on American government.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:07 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

A re-creation of the battle between a President and a Chief Justice reveals how John Marshall's view that a strong federal government and an independent judiciary provide the best protection for the Constitution and the people still exists today.

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