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JOHN MARSHALL SWORN IN AS COUNCILOR In the “ Calendar of Virginia State Papers and Other Manuscripts, from January, 1782, to December 31, 1784,” in the Capitol at Richmond, is to be found the following anouncement:
City of Richmond, ss :
This day personally appeared before me, one of the Aldermen of the said City, John Marshall, Esq'r, and took the Oaths of fidelity and a Privy Counsellor as prescribed by law.
Certified under my Hand this thirtieth day of November, 1782.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN MARSHALL
“ I was born on the 24th of September, 1755, in the county of Fauquier in Virginia. My father, Thomas Marshall, was the eldest son of John Marshall, who intermarried with a Miss Markham, and whose parents migrated from Wales, and settled in the county of Westmoreland in Virginia, where my father was born. My mother was named Mary Keith; she was the daughter of a clergyman of the name of Keith who migrated from Scotland, and intermarried with a Miss Randolph on James River.
“I was educated at home, under the direction of my father, who was a planter, but was often called from home as a surveyor. From my infancy I was destined for the bar; but the contest between the mother country and her colonies drew me from my studies and my father from the superintendence of them; and in September 1775, I entered into the service as a subaltern. I continued in the army until the year 1781, when, being without a command, I resigned my commission, in the interval between the invasions of Virginia by Arnold and Phillips.
“In the year 1782, I was elected into the legislature of Virginia; and in the fall session of the same year was chosen a member of the executive council of that State.
"In January, 1783, I intermarried with Mary Willis Ambler, the second daughter of Mr. Jacquelin Ambler, then treasurer of Virginia, who was the third son of Mr. Richard Ambler, a gentleman who had migrated from England, and settled at Yorktown in Virginia. “In April
, 1784, I resigned my seat in the executive council, and came to the bar, at which I continued, declining any other public office than a seat in the legislature, until the year 1797, when I was associated with General Pinckney and Mr. Gerry in a mission to France. In 1798, I returned to the United States; and in the spring of 1799 was elected a mem
ber of Congress, a candidate for which, much against my inclination, I was induced to become by the request of General Washington.
“At the close of the first session, I was nominated, first to the Department of War, and afterwards to that of state, which last office I accepted, and in which I continued until the beginning of the year 1801, when Mr. Ellsworth having resigned, and Mr. Jay having declined his appointment, I was nominated to the office of Chief Justice, which I still hold.
“I am the oldest of fifteen children, all of whom lived to be married, and of whom nine are now living. My father died when about seventy-four years of age; and my mother, who survived him about seven years, died about the same age. I do not recollect all the societies to which I belong, though they are very numerous. I have written no book, except the Life of Washington, which was executed with so much precipitation as to require much correction."
A pamphlet entitled “ An Address on the Life, Character and Influence of Chief Justice Marshall, delivered at Richmond on the fourth day of February, 1901, at the request of the State Bar Association of Virginia and the Bar Association of the City of Richmond, by Horace Gray," contains the above autobiography. Justice Gray says that his earliest knowledge of the existence of such an autobiography was obtained from a thin pamphlet, published at Columbus, Ohio, in 1848, which was found in an old bookstore in Boston. It contained, — besides Marshall's famous speech in Congress on the case of Jonathan Robbins - only a letter, entitled " Autobiography of John Marshall.” The internal evidence of its genuineness is very strong; and its authenticity is put almost beyond a doubt by a facsimile,- at present in the Virginia State Library,- of a folio sheet in Marshall's handwriting, which, although it contains neither the whole of the letter nor its address, bears the same date, and contains the principal paragraph of the letter, word for word, with the corrections of the original manuscript, immediately followed by his signature. Justice Gray says that in his researches, incited by the invitation to speak on the life of Marshall, he found a letter from Chief Justice Marshall, dated Richmond, March 22, 1818, and addressed to Joseph Delaplaine, Esq., Phila
delphia. Delaplaine was then publishing, in numbers, his
Repository of the Lives and Portraits of Distinguished American Characters," which was discontinued soon afterward, without ever including Marshall. The letter purports to have been written in answer to one requesting some account of my birth, parentage, and so on,” and the autobiography was the result. It reads as if it was meant for publication, and no doubt would have been published if the “Repository” had ever been completed.
THE WILL OF CHIEF JUSTICE MARSHALL The will of John Marshall is on file in Richmond, Virginia. It is in many respects a singular will. The estate consists chiefly of land, part of which is known as the famous “Grenway Court," which was the forest home of Lord Fairfax. George Washington surveyed this land, and was quite often a guest at the place. Sallie E. Marshall Hardy says that the Chief Justice bought part of this property; the rest he received as a fee for arranging the dispute between the State of Virginia and Lord Fairfax's heir,– Dr. Fairfax, of England, - who, it was claimed, was an “alien enemy during the Revolutionary War, and therefore had forfeited his inheritance."
The will is dated April 9, 1832, and has five codicils, of which the last was written but a short time before his death. The codicils are dated as follows: August 13, 1832; March 29, 1834; July 3, 1834; November 6, 1834; July 3, 1835; and at the end of each the following sentence appears: “This codicil was wholly written by myself.- J. Marshall.” The will, - which was probated in Richmond, in July, 1835,- is in his own characteristic handwriting.
“I, John Marshall, do make this my last will and testament, entirely in my own handwriting, this ninth day of April, 1832. I owe nothing on my own account,” and so on.
Then he arranged for the disposal of an estate he held in trust and for the settlement of a suit for some property which he purchased and for the note of a friend which he had endorsed. The settlement of the suit did not take place until about forty years after the death of Marshall, so great was the
law's delay, and when it was settled the multiplicity of heirs was so great that each one received but eleven dollars as a share of several thousands.
The estate was equally divided between his five sons and an only daughter. He leaves the share of his daughter in trust,
“I have long thought that the provision intended by a parent for a daughter ought, in common prudence, to be secured to herself and children, so as to protect her and them from distress, whatever casualties may happen. Under this impression, without derogating from the esteem and affection I feel for my son-in-law, I give to my nephew, Thomas M. Anbler, in trust, to apply the annual profits to the maintenance of my daughter and her family and for the education of her children, for her and their separate use, not to be subject to the control of her husband or to the payment of his debts." He then recommends that the son-in-law be employed as agent to manage the daughter's estate, and in the event that he should survive her, there was to be paid to him one-half of the annual profits for his own use, out of the profits of the property bequeathed to the daughter and her offspring.
John Marshall had a very deep love and lasting reverence for his wife, who died several years before he did. Part of the will shows that he remembered her slightest wish, for at her request he gives to one of her friends the dividends on ten bank shares during life," as a token of my wife's gratitude for long and valuable attentions." That part of the will is as follows:
My beloved wife requested me while living to hold in trust for our daughter one hundred bank-shares, to pay the dividends to her during my life and to secure the same to her and her children when Providence should call me, also, from this world. In compliance with the wish of her whose sainted spirit has fled from the sufferings inflicted on her in this life, I give,” and so on. “My daughter will never forget that this is the gift of the best and most affectionate of mothers." He gives to each of his grandsons named John one thousand acres of land, and adds:
“ If at the time of my death either of my sons should have no son named John, then I give the land to any son he may have named Thomas in token of my love for my father and