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Irreconcilable Founders Spencer Roane, John Marshall, and the Nature of America's Constitutional Republic

Irreconcilable Founders Spencer Roane, John Marshall, and the Nature of America's Constitutional Republic / David Johnson.
Baton Rouge : Louisiana State University Press, [2021]
Baltimore, Md. : Project MUSE, 2021
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"Virginians dominated the early history of the United States. While historians have written scores of books about Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Patrick Henry, George Mason, George Wythe, and John Marshall, they have given Spencer Roane (1762-1822) comparatively scant attention. The lack of interest in Roane is remarkable since he was the philosophical leader of the Jeffersonians, architect of states' rights doctrine, legislator, essayist, and, for twenty-seven years, justice of the Virginia Supreme Court. He was the son-in-law of Patrick Henry, a confidant of Jefferson, founder of the Richmond Enquirer, and head of the "Richmond Junto." His opinions established judicial review of legislative acts ten years before Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall did the same in Marbury v. Madison, opened a narrow path for the emancipation of slaves, and brought down Virginia's state-sponsored church. Roane's descent into historical twilight is all the more curious given his fierce criticism - both from the bench and in the newspaper - of John Marshall's nationalistic decisions. Indeed, the debate between these two judges is perhaps the most comprehensive discussion of federalism outside of the arguments that raged over ratification of the U.S. Constitution. In "Irreconcilable Founders," David Johnson uses Roane's long-lasting conflict with John Marshall as ballast for the first-ever biography of this highly influential but forgotten justice and political theorist. According to him, Roane appears as an annoying gadfly in most studies of federalism during the early days of the republic mainly because his legal opinions gave way to those of Marshall. Equally to blame is the comparative inaccessibility of Roane's life: no single archive houses his papers and correspondence, no scholars have systematically reviewed his legal opinions, and no one has examined his essays as a whole. Bringing these and other disparate sources together for the first time, Johnson precisely limns Roane's career, personality, and philosophy. He also synthesizes the judge's wide-ranging jurisprudence and analyzes his predictions about the dangers of unchecked federal power and an activist Supreme Court. Many of Roane's views are echoed today with increasing frequency by conservative politicians and commentators, making an examination of his life and appraisal of the wisdom of his disregarded opinions all the more essential"-- Provided by publisher.
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May 24, 2021
Counting the cost
Very violent when aroused
Storm center of controversy
Virginia's most powerful politician
The Roane court
Duty bound to arrest evil
The spirit of a free man
Die in the last ditch
I love liberty better
He dared to think for himself.
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