In the early 1830s, the city of Baltimore was developing as a bustling urban center and port. The city diverted the streams around John Barron’s successful wharf and lowered the water level, which negatively impacted his business. He sued the city to recover his financial losses.
In May, 1818, James William McCulloch was a cashier at the Baltimore branch of the Second Bank of the United States. McCulloch issued a series of bank notes on which the bank did not pay a Maryland state tax. The state treasurer quickly sued to recover the money and won a judgment in Maryland’s highest court. The Supreme Court soon accepted the case, which would have a profound impact in defining the principle of federalism, the reading of the Necessary and Proper Clause in the Constitution, and the national vision of the Marshall Court.
Justice Joseph Story: The Youngest Justice Appointed to the Court
Most lawyers in private practice at the age of 32 are preparing for potential consideration for, and transition to, partnership. At that same age, after a distinguished government and law firm career in Boston, Joseph Story took his seat on the United States Supreme Court in 1811, becoming the 18th Justice of the Supreme Court and the youngest justice appointed to the Supreme Court. Story served on the Court for almost thirty-four years, writing a large number of opinions and dissents. His tenure coincided with those of two of the longest serving Chief Justices in the Supreme Court’s history, John Marshall and Roger B. Taney.
Marbury v. Madison (1803) – A Landmark Decision Establishing The Supreme Court’s Role
In an effort to fill the Chief Justice vacancy on the Supreme Court before leaving office, President John Adams offered the position to John Jay, who declined, citing the lack of dignity and respect of the Supreme Court. Secretary of State John Marshall was with Adams when Adams received Jay’s rejection letter and, with time running out, Adams offered Marshall the Chief Justice position, which Marshall accepted. The Senate confirmed Marshall on January 27, 1801, and he became Chief Justice. However, a Democratic-Republican Party-led Congress repealed the Judiciary Act of 1801 (aka the “Midnight Judges Act”) and subsequently replaced it with the Judiciary Act of 1802, causing the Supreme Court to be on hiatus from December 1801 until February 1803.
Only once before the twenty-first century has America had three consecutive eight-year presidencies: the years 1801-25 in which three members of “the House of Virginia,” Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and James Monroe each won two general elections and served for eight years. Historians have called the end of this period “the Era of Good Feelings,” in part because Monroe won his second term without opposition with a single electoral vote cast for his secretary of state, John Quincy Adams.
JFK, Catholicism, and the 1960 Election
The American Founding ushered in a “new order for the ages” that included the unprecedented and remarkable natural right of liberty of conscience. The First Amendment protected this universal right of all humans and banned Congress from establishing an official religion. The Constitution also banned all religious tests for national office.
The election of 1956 saw Adlai Stevenson again tasked with the unenviable duty of an electoral contest against Dwight D. Eisenhower, which, it will come as no surprise, did not end in Stevenson’s favor. Eisenhower is well known to students of history and government, Stevenson, a one-term governor of Illinois, barely garners a mention in most books on the Cold War. Despite his loss, Stevenson was an important bridge between the New Deal policies of the Roosevelt administration and the Great Society of Lyndon B. Johnson. He articulated a progressive platform that would guide the Democratic Party for the coming decades in regards to domestic policy. Electoral defeat is quite common for ideologues and intellectuals on both ends of the ideological spectrum, but part and parcel with his intellectual bend came a truly unique rhetoric for the role of government in society.
Constituting America first published this message from Founder & Co-Chair Janine Turner over Memorial Day Weekend, 2010, the inaugural year of our organization. We are pleased to share it with you again, as we celebrate our 6th birthday!
On this Memorial Day weekend, I think it is appropriate to truly contemplate and think about the soldiers and families who have sacrificed their lives and loved ones, and given their time and dedication to our country.
FDR’s Third Term and the Twenty-Second Amendment
On November 5, 1940, Franklin Delano Roosevelt became the first and only U.S. president to be elected for more than two terms. A newspaper headline depicted the historic moment with a joke that captured the public’s ambivalence toward Roosevelt’s unprecedented break from tradition: “Safe on third!”
The 1916 Presidential election pitted incumbent Democratic President Woodrow Wilson against Republican Supreme Court Justice Charles Evans Hughes. The election was a very close one and had significant ramifications for the “progressive” movement.
In The Federalist No. 47 James Madison asserted that “accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands…may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.” Indeed, the importance of the separation of powers was so widely accepted by the American public in 1788 that Madison could confidently declare it to be “the sacred maxim of free government.” Today, however, government agencies routinely make, enforce, and adjudicate legally binding rules that have the full force and effect of laws passed by Congress. Such evidence leaves no doubt that there has been a revolutionary shift in the constitutional theory guiding American politics since the time of the American Founding. But how—and why—did this revolution come to be? The answer is to be found in a broad movement known as progressivism that came to dominate both the American academy and government in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century.