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Nationalism After the War of 1812 Essay

After the war of 1812, a surge of nationalism spread everywhere throughout America. Having unofficially won the war without even an official army, the people of America became very proud of themselves and how their great country established such a feat. The nationalism grew until John Marshall, an aggressive Chief Justice, further strengthened and expanded it. He was a devout Federalist appointed by John Adams years before his most famous case of Marbury vs. Madison in 1803. Being a Federalist he was a great rival to Thomas Jefferson. He served until 1835 and was the forth Supreme Court Justice.

His only legal schooling was six weeks attending lectures at the College of William and Mary, however when he took the bench in 1801, he changed the Judicial Branch as we know it. In fact, he made the branch the most powerful section of the government at that time.

His most significant early case was the famous Marbury v. Madison in 1803, which established the right of the court to declare the actions of local, state or federal governments invalid if they violate the Constitution. This process of declaring actions void was called Judicial Review and it made the Court equally as powerful as the legislative and executive branches of government.

Another important case was Martin vs. Hunter’s Lessee in 1816. The ruling by Marshall declared that the power of the Supreme Court extended to the State Courts. The court now had the right to directly review other courts decisions. Yet another case, Cohens vs. Virginia strengthened this right and extended the reach of the court all the way to the citizens of the U.S. and states. Marshall’s court became more and more powerful until it got the right to review almost all lower court decisions.

The famous Fletcher vs. Peck case ruled (in 1810) that the Supreme Court had the right to void State laws. The details behind the case were as follows: The Georgia legislature had issued extensive land grants in a deal with the Yazoo Land Company. It seemed suspicious so the company was taken to court. A subsequent legislative session repealed the grants because of theĀ corruption that had accompanied the original grant. The Supreme Court, with Marshall presiding, decided that the original action by the Georgia Assembly had constituted a valid contract, which could not be broken regardless of the corruption. This was the very first time that a State law was voided because it went against the Constitution.

Then, after the war of 1812 Marshall issued more decisions that strengthened the federal government and Federalist ideas. In the McCulloch vs. Maryland case, Marshall ruled that the state did not have the right to tax or regulate banks. This also encouraged economic expansion and development. In the Dartmouth vs. Woodward case it was declared that the states had no right to alter or impair contracts unilaterally. It also promoted business development.

The last important case was Gibbons vs. Ogden, which further strengthened federal power by ruling that the Constitution had specifically given Congress the power to regulate commerce.

Under John Marshall, the Supreme Court gained enough power to surpass the power of the other branches of the government. He also declared many laws and rulings that America still follows and lives under even today. Either way, he changed the Judicial branch forever, especially at that time and the world has never seen a more intelligent man presiding.

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