ABA Journal


The Modern Law Library

Author Describes Clash of Titans Jefferson and Marshall in ‘The Treason Trial of Aaron Burr’

Sep 24, 2012, 01:56 pm CDT


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By Patrick Lee on 2012 09 25, 6:35 pm CDT

There certainly was no love lost between Thomas Jefferson and his distant cousin John Marshall, as you can see in this Jefferson blog post:

The explanatory notes on these three blog posts contain information on Aaron Burr, also not another of Jeffersons favs:

By Patrick Lee on 2012 09 25, 7:59 pm CDT

Iron sharpening iron. Aaron Burr, husband to Jonathan Edwards’ daughter, a man of prodigious learning and articulation, arrested in his course, infamous almost ignored in the end, yet still attracting our attention today as a demonstration of the power of the American breed early on. Next to the titans, Marshall and Jefferson, neither of whom should warrant any disdain from any of us, we thank Dr. Newmyer for his tasty intro to the architects of our jurisprudence, the lawyers laying the foundations for the decisions, perhaps not so arbitrarily as one might suppose, the discipline of the profession in its tight restriction on construction laying a predicate that was extolled in the reverence until short-circuited by a subsequent crowd seeking to expose a short-coming to a ‘contemporary need’ abandoning the theological finding for the philosophical presumption. Law and religion, the foundation to our polity.

By gdp on 2012 09 28, 7:57 pm CDT

Awesome interview! Thomas Jefferson? Overcharging? Soliciting potentially false testimony with pre-signed blank pardons? Oh my Goodness.

By Tom Youngjohn on 2012 09 29, 4:19 am CDT

Correction - not married to Edwards’ daughter, but her son, an even closer tie.

By gdp on 2012 09 29, 11:10 am CDT

There may be good reason for the animosity between Marshall and Jefferson, having to do with their family ties.  Both Marshall and Jefferson counted as their maternal great-great grandparents William and Mary Randolph.  The Randolphs were a very wealthy and influential family in pre-Revolution Virginia.  William and Mary had a number of children, including Isham and Thomas Randoph. Isham was Jefferson’s grandfather, and Thomas was Marshall’s grandfather.  The big difference in these two branches of the Randolph family tree, though, was that Marshall’s mother had run off with an Scots Anglican parson named James Keith and the Randolph family disowned her.  So Marshall’s line was deprived of the wealth and influence that Jefferson’s line retained.  This is my family history, and the oral histories that have been handed down portray these two men as having been raised to dislike each other.  Jefferson and his parents were well accepted by the Randolphs, but Marshall and his family were persona non grata, in the Randolph clan.  Professor Jean Smith’s excellent biography of Marshall describes the conflict between these two men throughout their professional careers.

By Keith Elston on 2012 09 29, 7:33 pm CDT

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