John Marshall

Chief Justice John Marshall Benefits from Speculation that Bank of the United States Will Not be Rechartered

Chief Justice John Marshall Benefits from Speculation that Bank of the United States will not be Rechartered

 

JOHN MARSHALL, Autograph Letter Signed, to his son, James K. Marshall, September 18, 1832, [Richmond, Virginia.  2 pp., 6.25" x 7.5".

 

In this interesting letter to his son, U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall writes of the sale of some state bank stock. The bank stock has risen in value because speculators believed that the Second Bank of the United States would not be rechartered, when its twenty-year charter expired in 1836. In 1819, Marshall had led the Court in upholding the constitutionality of the bank. The recharter became a central issue in the presidential campaign of 1832, which pitted pro-bank National Republicans led by Henry Clay against anti-bank forces led by Andrew Jackson.

 

Complete Transcript

                                                                        September 18th 1832

My dear son

            After writing to you it occurred to me that the money for Mr Hicks and Mr Ambler might be required immediately, and that you might have written to them that it was deposited in bank. Under this impression I requested Mr Lynch, the broker, to sell two shares for the most he could get, but not to sell more than two for less than 112. This would leave you 111.50. He has departed somewhat from instructions and has sold thirteen shares for 111.75, leave you 111.25. I am confident that more cannot now be obtained, and am not sure that this price will hold. The rise is to be ascribed to the opinion that the bank of The United States will not be rechartered, and gentlemen speculate on a great rise in state stock when the present charter shall expire. All this is speculation.

            I was under the necessity of employing a broker as I could not, in the present state of things, have found a purchaser myself.

            The money is disposed of as you directed. $1256.25 to the credit of the Farmer’s bank in Winchester. Mr Nikervis gives notice to the cashier of that branch. As you mentioned your wish that notice should be given to that bank and said nothing of notice to Mr Hicks and Mr Ambler I have not written to them. Mr Hicks I presume will draw through the bank at Petersburg. You I imagine have arranged with both those gentlemen.

            I shall sell the remaining three shares at the same price if an opportunity offers unless you direct otherwise, and shall place the money to the credit of the Farmer’s bank in Winchester

            I shall not deduct the 25$ you mention. I wish to pay George Brook thirteen dollars and will thank you when convenient to pay him that sum for me and to take the receipt you will see on the next page.

            From Fauquier court house to Hanover court house I found the roads deep and indicating heavy rains. From Hanover court house to Richmond they became dryer and dryer, and I find to my very great surprize that though our river is full, much rain having fallen above, we have had none through the month of September and the latter part of August. From this cause combined with the cold weather, our latter corn has not filled.

            You may keep G. Brookes receipt till you come down or send it by your brother. I am rejoiced to hear of the general recovery.

                                                                        Your affectionate Father

                                                                        J Marshall

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[Top quarter of page removed as receipt mentioned above.

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[Address: James K. Marshall esquire / near Leeds Manor P. office / Fauquier

 

Historical Background

Neither the end of the 1832 presidential campaign between National Republican Henry Clay and Democrat Andrew Jackson, John Marshall wrote this letter to his son regarding the sale of some state bank stock to obtain funds to pay Mr. Hicks and Mr. Ambler. Through James H. Lynch, a broker, Marshall sold several shares of state bank stock that had risen in value because speculators believed that the Second Bank of the United States would not be rechartered. Two months later, Andrew Jackson, who opposed the recharter, was elected president, and in 1836 the Second Bank of the United States became private and was liquidated in 1841.

 

In 1819, Marshall had owned seventeen shares of stock in the Second Bank of the United States, but in that year, he sold the stock. James H. Lynch, who bought five of Marshall’s shares, “advised him, at the same time, not to sell; but he assigned as his reason for selling, that he did not choose to remain a stockholder in that institution, as questions would come before the Supreme Court of the United States in which the bank might be concerned.”  Later that year, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Bank in the landmark decision of McCulloch v. Maryland (1819), which asserted the implied powers of Congress and prohibited state action to impede valid exercises of power by the federal government.

 

In 1793, John Marshall, his brother James Markham Marshall, and their brothers-in-law Rawleigh Colston and John Ambler, formed a syndicate to purchase 160,380 acres of the former Manor of Leeds, owned by the British Lord Fairfax before the Revolutionary War. In 1806, they paid the last installment on the property and agreed to divide the property. During the first half of the nineteenth century, Marshall family members built elegant dwellings on the former manorial lands. John Marshall conveyed large tracts of land to his sons, including the farm known as Leeds to James Keith Marshall.

 

John Marshall (1755-1835) was born in Fauquier County on the Virginia frontier and studied law on his own as a young man.  He served in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War and rose to the position of captain in a Virginia regiment. After the war, he studied law with George Wythe at the College of William and Mary and was admitted to the bar in 1780. He married Mary Willis Ambler in 1783, and they had ten children, six of whom survived to adulthood. He served in the Virginia House of Delegates from 1782 to 1789 and again from 1795 to 1796. He built a home in Richmond, Virginia, in 1790, where he often returned for relaxation. He was a member of the Virginia convention to ratify the U.S. Constitution, which he strongly supported. He served as one of three commissioners appointed by President John Adams to negotiate with France in 1797, which devolved into the XYZ Affair, when Marshall and the other commissioners refused to pay bribes to the French. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1799, and in 1800, Adams appointed him as Secretary of State. In 1801, Adams nominated him as Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, a position he held until his death 34 years later. During his tenure, he participated in more than 1,000 decisions and wrote 519 opinions himself. His powerful opinions in pivotal cases established the U.S. Supreme Court as the final authority on the meaning of the Constitution.

 

James Keith Marshall (1800-1862) was born in Richmond, Virginia, and attended Harvard College but did not graduate. He married Claudia Hamilton Burwell, and they had eleven children, many of whom died in childhood. Marshall served as Fauquier County delegate in the Virginia General Assembly from 1839 to 1841 and in the Virginia Senate from 1854 to his death in 1862.

 

Condition: Mailing folds, top quarter of address leaf missing.

 

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