About the National Archives

Welcome Remarks for "John Marshall: The Man Who Made the Supreme Court"

McGowan Theater, National Archives Building, Washington, DC
November 13, 2018

Good afternoon, and welcome to the William G. McGowan Theater. I’m David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, and I’m pleased you could join us today, whether you are here in the theater or joining us through Facebook or YouTube.

Before we hear from Richard Brookhiser about his new biography of John Marshall, I’d like to tell you about two other programs happening this week in the McGowan Theater.

Tomorrow, our Veterans Day celebration continues with a program on support and resources available for Vietnam veterans called “Remembering Veterans: A Conversation of What Happens After Duty, Honor, Country.” Former Senator and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Congressman Sam Johnson will deliver remarks and will be joined by a panel of Vietnam veterans who are current and former representatives of the Vietnam Veterans of America, Disabled American Veterans, and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

And on Thursday, November 15, at 7 p.m., we will host the U.S. premiere of The Tokyo Trials, a documentary created in observance of the 70th anniversary of the Tokyo War Crimes Trial at the end of World War II.

Check our website, Archives.gov, or sign up at the table outside the theater to get email updates. You’ll also find information about other National Archives programs and activities.

Another way to get more involved with the National Archives is to become a member of the National Archives Foundation. The Foundation supports the work of the agency, especially its education and outreach programs. Visit its website—archivesfoundation.org—to learn more about the Foundation and join online.

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As you know, the National Archives preserves the records of the federal government—among them the most significant documents in our history and growth as a nation. In 2003, when we opened the Public Vaults exhibition upstairs, we asked the public to vote on a list of 100 milestone documents of American history. Three of those 100 are decisions issued by John Marshall’s Supreme Court: Marbury versus Madison, McCulloch versus Maryland, and Gibbons versus Ogden.

John Marshall is such a towering figure of the Supreme Court of the United States that many people believe he was the first Chief Justice. He was the fourth, but in his record-holding 34 years as Chief Justice, he was the most influential. The precedent-setting decisions issued by his court have stood for two centuries and shaped the role of the judicial branch of our government.

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Richard Brookhiser’s first article for National Review was published the day after his 15th birthday. He went to work for National Review after graduating from Yale and has stayed ever since.

For 20 years he wrote a column for the New York Observer and has also written for a number of magazines including The New Yorker, Cosmopolitan, Commentary, and Vanity Fair.

After writing about modern politicians, he turned to past political figures and became a historian of the founding period. He curated “Alexander Hamilton: The Man Who Made Modern America,” an exhibition at the New-York Historical Society, and wrote and hosted two films that aired on PBS: Rediscovering George Washington and Rediscovering Alexander Hamilton. He is currently a columnist for American History and has been awarded the National Medal of the Humanities and a Guggenheim fellowship.

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Richard Brookhiser.