A man for all seasons: Historical memory and John Marshall

Daniel Frost, Keith E. Whittington

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The heroes of American politics are often represented as timeless figures, sometimes literally carved in stone. A growing literature on collective memory, however, has emphasized the ways in which historical reputations are socially constructed-and reconstructed-over time. This article considers Chief Justice John Marshall as a case study in this dynamic process of constructing historical reputation. Marshall stands above all others as "the great chief justice," but nonetheless his reputation has not always been secure. Surveying both citations to Marshall's key opinions and popular and scholarly discussions of the chief justice himself across time, the article shows how Marshall's reputation has been remade over time to fit the political needs of the moment. Marshall's durability as a historical figure has turned not on a single set of particularly timeless accomplishments but on the diversity of his contributions to the constitutional canon.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)575-602
Number of pages28
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science


  • Collective memory
  • John Marshall
  • Judicial reputation
  • U.S. Supreme Court history


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