In right to regulate? It consisted of interstate
In Americas time there have been many great men who have spent their lives creating this great country.
Men such as George Washington, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson fit these roles. They are deemed Americas founding fathers and laid the support for the most powerful country in history. However, one more man deserves his name to be etched into this list. His name was John Marshall, who decided case after case during his role as Chief Justice that has left an everlasting mark on todays judiciary, and even society itself. Through Cases such as Marbury v.
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Madison (1803) and McCulloch v. Maryland (1819) he established the Judicial Branch as an independent power. One case in particular, named Gibbons v.
Ogden (1824), displayed his intuitive ability to maintain a balance of power, suppress rising sectionalism, and unite the states under the Federal Government.Aaron Ogden, a captain of a ship passing through New York State to trade with other states, was stopped one evening by Thomas Gibbons. He addressed Ogden to cede his ship over to New York officials. Ogden, Gibbons argued, had not a license that permitted him to sail through these particular waters.
Therefore, he had a right to seize Ogdens ship. Ogden, on the other hand, claimed he had a federally approved license to navigate any waters in the United States. Gibbons declared the supremacy of the New York Steamboat Act, while Ogden stated the Federal Coasting Law as the rule.
The stage had been set for the Supreme Court.The case came to the Supreme Court as the infamous Federal versus State battle for power. Once again the question plagued Marshall whether to support Federalism, or keep States rights alive.Certain things became apparent to Marshall. The Constitution did give the federal government complete control over the nations commerce. (Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3) Also, the Federal Law, according to the Constitution, was the supreme law of the land. (Article 6, Clause 2) Marshall, a Federalist, had always supported a strong central government.
However, issues were arising in other parts of the country that would make him consider any decision he made further. A black slave had entered the State of South Carolina earlier and had incited a small but effective rebellion that was eventually suppressed by the State. Fearing a similar occurrence, the state of South Carolina passed the Negro Seamen Act. The Act regulated the entrance of free Negroes crossing into South Carolina. Later, in 1823, it was declared unconstitutional.Marshall eyed the Negro Seamen Act closely. What was this commerce, which the Federal Government had the reserved right to regulate? It consisted of interstate trade, but what did that equate to? He decided that commerce was not only trade, but also transportation and anything else that occurred with it.
Therefore, commerce was the trading and transportation of goods and property.The recent events in South Carolina made the Supreme Court uneasy, however. Slaves were considered property to be bought and sold by trading in the South. The Southern states felt they could regulate this trade. Yet, the right to regulate commerce and trade was a right reserved for only federal control, not the States, as described in the Constitution.
Henceforth, if Marshall and the Supreme Court ruled that Federal Law was supreme to govern interstate commerce in the case of Gibbons, it would also give the Federal Government the right to regulate slavery. Slavery had been the hotly debated issue ever since the country had been formed, and would be its undoing. Marshall knew this. He had to avoid the slavery-based sectionalism, while at the same time ruling that Federal Law was supreme. If he did not correctly leave the States their rights, they would possibly succeed from the Union, a disastrous blow to the formation of such a young country.
The case of Gibbons v. Ogden (1824) had become a national problem that had to be solved. It required a decision that went both ways, a compromise, so as to preserve a more perfect Union. Or, in the least, prevent sectionalism and succession.The decision finally came by John Marshall and his Supreme Court on March 2, 1824. Marshall had decided that because the Constitution declared Federal law supremacy, any law passed by Congress should be the superior force.
However, only those State laws that conflicted with Federal laws and jurisdiction, therefore deemed unconstitutional, should be rejected. Therefore, States had the power to regulate their own trade, such as the southern slaves, but the Federal Government had the final say, and ultimately, supreme power. Congress henceforth could control intra and interstate commerce as the Constitution specified.Marshalls decision was none other than extraordinary.
He had single-handedly prevented further debate over slavery (for the meantime, anyhow), and satisfied any contention with Federal jurisdiction. He had, once again, made a very historic decision that would see itself all the way through Americas lifespan.Historically, Marshall supported Federalism, as he had in other cases such as Marbury v. Madison (1803).
This would carry the country further from a loose collection of States into a National Power to be reckoned with. Also, by putting off the slavery issue again, he extended the amount of time before there eventually would be an outbreak over the issue. He and the others knew the day would come, but they would deal with it at that later time; probably by use of arms.For his contributions to the development of Federal power as displayed in this, Gibbons v.
Ogden (1824), and other cases, John Marshall has clearly devoted his life to the well being and formation of a better union. Just as the other well-known American men, he deserves a higher place in history for what he has done for all of America, throughout his time and into ours.