Famous Friends of John Marshall

John Marshall and George Washington

George Washington strongly influenced and encouraged John Marshall in his youth. Marshall’s admiration of Washington only grew when Marshall was a lieutenant in the Third Virginia Regiment in the Continental Line during the terrible winter at Valley Forge.

It was Marshall’s admiration and respect for Washington that lead him to run for the United States House of Representative in 1799. While focusing upon expanding his holdings in Oak Hill, Washington asked John Marshall to run for a seat, which Marshall reluctantly agreed to. Marshall won the race, even though his congressional district, including the city of Richmond, traditionally favored the Democratic-Republican Party. Some believe Marshall’s success came from his conduct during the XYZ Affair, as well as from his support of Patrick Henry.

After George Washington’s death, Marshall composed a biography of his revered friend and his commander in chief, in an expression of John’s love and loyalty.



John Marshall and John Adams

In 1797, President John Adams convinced John Marshall to serve as an envoy to France, where he became involved in the difficult so-called XYZ Affair. Upon returning, Adams offered him a seat on the Supreme Court. Marshall declined the offer and chose instead to run for and was elected to the U. S. House of Representatives in 1799. On May 12, 1800, Adams nominated Marshall to the post of Secretary of State. The Senate confirmed him unanimously the next day.

Marshall genuinely felt he was qualified for the office of the Secretary of State, and decided to accept the appointment. Marshall was also influenced by the government’s decision to move to Washington, on the banks of the Potomac, which was much closer to Richmond and only sixty miles Oak Hill.



John Marshall and Thomas Jefferson

John Marshall and Thomas Jefferson were two cousins who just didn’t get along. Jefferson in particular made Marshall’s 1799 campaign for The United States House of Representatives a bitter one. Marshall’s opponent, John Clopton, was not a formidable candidate. However, Clopton had Thomas Jefferson’s power and influence on his side. Jefferson fervently hated Marshall. Perhaps one reason was the fact that Marshall had married Jefferson’s former flame, Mary Willis Ambler. Despite Jefferson’s powerful influence, Marshall narrowly won the seat.

Jefferson’s rival with Marshall continued during Jefferson’s heated campaign for presidency against President John Adams. During the campaign, Adams appointed John Marshall as the Chief Justice of the United States. Jefferson was outraged by the appointment, seeing as he expected to confer the honor to someone from his own party. In the end, the presidential election was decided by the House of Representatives, who decided in favor of Thomas Jefferson. On March 4th, Marshall bitterly administered the oath of office to Jefferson.


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