Blogs > Cliopatria > General Marshall

May 14, 2005 10:33 pm

General Marshall

What this country needs is another General Marshall. No, not George Marshall, though he'd do fine.

We need another John Marshall.

I am not especially fond of his conservative approach to government--or his sympathy with the High Federalists who pushed through Congress the Alien and Sedition Acts. (He opposed them publicly but privately considered them meritorious.)

But as a man--as a high official--we have not seen his like in many a generation.

He was a general in the Revolution, a congressman from Virginia in the late 1790s and then in quick succession--secretary of war (though he never accepted the post he was confirmed by the Senate), secretary of state and chief justice of the Supreme Court. And he was qualified for each of those posts.

He actually complained to John Adams, who appointed him to war, state and the Supreme Court, that he wasn't qualified to be secretary of war--and even that is proof of his sterling qualities. When's the last time you heard of a person declining a high office because they felt they lacked the qualifications?

All this comes to mind as I am reading James Simon's What Kind of Nation: Jefferson, Marshall, and the Epic Struggle to Create a United States. If you have a few hours to spare I highly recommend the book. But I warn you. It may make you depressed.

To reflect on where we started and where we have ended up ... well, it's nothing anybody would want to dwell on too long.

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Stephen Tootle - 5/24/2005

I have always had a soft spot for W.H. Taft myself, for many of the same reasons.