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The Marshall Court (1801–35)

Introduction

Whom did John Marshall believe should be chief justice?

Marshall advised President John Adams that the appointment of chief justice should go to associate justice William Paterson, one of the drafters of the Judiciary Act of 1789 and a leading framer at the 1787 Philadelphia Convention that created the Constitution. However, President Adams did not offer the position to Paterson in part because Paterson was a close friend of Alexander Hamilton, with whom Adams did not see to eye to eye. Actually, Adams first offered the position to John Jay, the nation’s first chief justice, who had resigned in 1795 after serving nearly six years to become governor of New York. When Jay declined the appointment, many advised the president to select Paterson, the associate justice with the most seniority. Adams decided instead to nominate Marshall. When Marshall’s name was first proposed, many Federalist members of the Senate delayed his confirmation because they wanted Adams to nominate Paterson.



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