Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Life of George Washington by John Marshall

Objects: The Life of Washington, Vol. I-V
Object ID: 1998.2.1-5

George Washington was not only considered a military and revolutionary hero, but a man of great personal integrity, duty, honor and patriotism. Known for his roles as the head of the Continental Army and as our nation’s first president; he helped create a legacy of strength and national purpose.
Upon Washington’s death in 1799, at the age of 67, his personal notes and files were left to his nephew, Bushrod Washington. As a friend of the first president, John Marshall announced Washington's death, offered the eulogy, chaired the committee that arranged the funeral and led the commission that planned a monument in the nation's capital. Washington had known Marshall's father, Thomas, through his early surveying career, and during a young Marshall's military service, he developed his own friendship with the commander-in-chief. Due to the close relationship that Marshall shared with George Washington, Bushrod asked Marshall to write the official biography for his uncle. Marshall began writing Washington’s biography in 1801 and continued to add to the manuscript for five years. The resulting biography resulted in five volumes totaling more than 3,200 pages of dates and dates of his personal, political and military life. 
            Born on September 24, 1755 to Thomas and Mary, John Marshall grew up in an adequately educated household that held significant social, religious and political status in Prince William County of Virginia (currently Fauquier County).  Marshall’s formal education began in 1767 from a traveling minister who lived in the household; providing Marshall with readings and teachings. John later went on to receive a more thorough education at the academy of Reverend Archibald Campbell. Marshall also did a six week study at William and Mary College in 1780 where he attended the law lectures of George Wythe.
           During his political activity in the late 1700’s, as Marshall’s private law practice flourished, he served in the House of Delegates and became the leader of the Federalist Party. During this time, Marshall managed to meet and marry Mary Ambler in 1783.  On January 20, 1801, President Adams nominated Marshall to be Chief Justice of the United States with the Senate unanimously confirming the nomination on January 27.  John Marshall was sworn in on February 4, 1801 and served as Chief Justice for thirty-four years.
            The five volume biography that John Marshall wrote is a prized addition to the Wilton library. Not only was Marshall a Randolph decedent of William I, but George Washington was considered to be a good friend of the family.  It was even reported that the Randolph’s entertained Washington at Wilton for three nights when Washington attended the Second Virginia Convention in 1775.

A first edition set of this Washington biography by Randolph family descendant John Marshall can be seen in our current museum exhibition: The Randolph Family Reunion November 2012 through February 2014.

Gordon, Douglas H. "John Marshall: The Fourth Chief Justice." American Bar Association Journal. 41.8 (1995): 698-702, 766-771. Print. <http://www.jstor.org/stable/25719292>.    

 Freidel, Frank, and Hugh Sidey. "The Presidential biographies ." The White House . White House Historical Association, n.d. Web. 24 Oct 2013. <http://www.whitehouse.gov/about/presidents/georgewashington>. 

"John Marshall." Library of Virginia. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Oct 2013. <http://www.lva.virginia.gov/exhibits/marshall/>.

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