McCulloch vs. Maryland
John Marshall was a prominent figure in the history of the United
States as the man who helped shape the Supreme Court to the power it
is today. His decisions strengthened the power of the federal
government in period of growth for our new nation and established a
greater purpose for the Supreme Court.
Born September 24, 1755 in Virginia, he went on to attend the college
of William and Marry, which became his only formal education. Early in
the revolutionary war, he served under the Third Virginia Continental
Regiment, rising through the ranks to lieutenant and captain. After
the war, he settled back in Virginia to become a lawyer. He became
active in the Virginia House of delegates and also the leader of the
Federalists party there, rivaling Thomas Jefferson. In 1797, Adams
sent him to France with two others for negotiations, which erupted
into the XYZ affair. He became known for his steadfastness in refusing
to pay bribes. In 1799, he is elected into the House of
Representatives and the following year, Adams appoints him as
Secretary of State. Before Adams term is over in 1801, he appoints
Marshall as one of the "midnight judges," where Marshall becomes Chief
Justice beginning his reign and contributions to the court.
One of Marshall's major rulings came with McCulloch vs. Maryland. The
basis of the case comes from when Maryland tries to tax a branch of
the Bank of the United States in an attempt to drive them out.
Specifically, Maryland forced a 15,000 annual tax on the bank notes.
McCulloch, the cashier of the Baltimore branch, refused to pay the tax
and Maryland filed suit against him. The Baltimore County Court
convicted McCulloch and fined him 2500. McCulloch then appealed, but
the Maryland Court of Appeals upheld the decision of the former court.
Finally, he appealed to the Supreme Court and the case was brought
before Marshall and the justices.
In the case, Marshall begins by using three reasons to support the
notion that Congress is given power to establish the Bank of the
United States. First, he states the supremacy of the government based
on the social contract between the government and people. Secondly, he
states, "Among the enumerated powers, we do not find that of
establishing a bank or creating a corporation. But there is no phrase
in the instrument which, like the articles of confederation, excludes
incidental or implied powers; and which requires that everything
granted shall be expressly and minutely described"and that "Although,
among the enumerated powers of government, we do not find the word
"bank" or "incorporation," we find the great powers, to lay and
collect taxes; to borrow money; to regulate commerce . . . But it may
with great reason be contended, that a government, entrusted with such
ample powers . . . must...