I strongly believe that every American should be able to at least offer a reasonable argument on how to interpret the Constitution. Even if their opinion is merely whether it should be interpreted in an Originalist manner or as a living Constitution counts. They need to know how to do that so that all of our citizens can understand why certain laws or policies, such as gun control, are unconstitutional. Reading books about the Supreme Court, such as Without Precedent is a great way to do so.
Through building a national understanding of the Constitution, we can then begin to rediscover a national consensus on certain basic issues and rediscover our common national identity. The best way to build that national understanding, in my opinion, is to read about how the Founding Fathers and early Americans understood the Constitution. One book that I would certainly recommend for that is Without Precedent: Chief Justice John Marshall.
Summary of Without Precedent: Chief Justice John Marshall
Like many of the Founding Fathers, John Marshall lived a fulfilling and remarkable life.
The son of a frontiersman and a cousin of Thomas Jefferson, Marshall grew up in poverty but learned to be a proud individual and was educated, allowing him to develop both his exceptional personality and intellect.
When he was a young man, the American Revolution began and he volunteered as a rifleman in the 3rd Virginia Regiment, which served at the Battle of Trenton, as discussed in Washington’s Crossing, and remained with Washington at Valley Forge.
After Valley Forge, Marshall returned to Virginia and enrolled in Georgetown Law School and later was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates, beginning his political career.
Marshall went on to continue to influence America in its early days, picking up the Federalist mantle after the presidencies of His Excellency: George Washington and John Adams. He served as an ambassador to France, served as legal counsel for influential businessmen, and eventually ended up on the Supreme Court, which he transformed into the august and influential body that it is today; the body that could restore the now lost Constitution.
The final portion of Without Precedent: Chief Justice John Marshall is about Marshall’s tenure as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. While Chief Justice, he presided over incredibly important cases such as Gibbons v Ogden, McCulloch v Maryland, and Worcester v Georgia. Of course, there are many other vital cases for America that Marshall heard while on the court.
Analysis of Without Precedent: Chief Justice John Marshall
I thought Without Precedent: Chief Justice John Marshall was a thought-provoking book and I enjoyed reading it far more than I expected to.
Before starting Without Precedent: Chief Justice John Marshall, I knew quite little about John Marshall. Because I took a constitutional law course, I knew that he had been a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and that he was primarily responsible for turning the Court into an important body.
But, I didn’t know about his constant competition with Thomas Jefferson, Revolutionary War service, the time he spent in France during the Quasi-War, or that he was influential during the debates between the Federalists and Anti-Federalists.
So, I enjoyed learning about all of that. I think reading this book gave me a better perspective of the Federalist side of the debate over the Constitution and showed how dynamic and prescient America’s early leaders had to be to turn a group of former colonies into a hugely successful republic.
For example, Marshall constantly had to perform a balancing act during his time on the Supreme Court. On one hand, Marshall was a hugely influential proponent of property rights and America’s sovereignty, but his decisions also had to respect international law so as to keep America out of disastrous foreign wars.
Overall, Without Precedent: Chief Justice John Marshall is a book well worth reading. At times, the author, Joel Richard Paul, is less than objective and tends to favor Marshall too much or extrapolate details about his personal life that aren’t really supported by any available evidence. But, most of it is well-supported and certainly worth reading. Too much of our history has been forgotten because Americans have stopped caring about men we once regarded as heroes. That’s sad and unfortunate, but we can correct it by reading books such as Without Precedent: Chief Justice John Marshall that paint those men as heroes.
Give Without Precedent: Chief Justice John Marshall a read. It might seem dense and long at first, but if you give it a chance and care about early American politics, you’ll quickly get drawn into it!
Furthermore, and much more importantly, Without Precedent will give you a crash course in the thinking of early Americans on what the function of the Supreme Court should be and how they, the generation that created this glorious republic and its excellent Constitution, thought that it should be interpreted. If you’re a young conservative that wants to fight back against the unconstitutional actions of the enemies of freedom, such as Big Tech companies, then you need to understand the Constitution. Reading Without Precedent is a great way to start learning!
By: Gen Z Conservative