Aggressive Nationalism: McCulloch v. Maryland and the Foundation of Federal Authority in the Young…

Hardcover | August 28, 2007

byRichard E. Ellis

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McCulloch v. Maryland (1819) has long been recognized to be one of the most significant decisions ever handed down by the United States Supreme Court. Indeed, many scholars have argued it is the greatest opinion handed down by the greatest Chief Justice, in which he declared the act creatingthe Second Bank of the United States constitutional and Maryland's attempt to tax it unconstitutional. Although it is now recognized as the foundational statement for a strong and active federal government, the immediate impact of the ruling was short-lived and widely criticized. Placing the decision and the public reaction to it in their proper historical context, Richard E. Ellis finds that Maryland, though unopposed to the Bank, helped to bring the case before the Court and a sympathetic Chief Justice, who worked behind the scenes to save the embattled institution.Almost all treatments of the case consider it solely from Marshall's perspective, yet a careful examination reveals other, even more important issues that the Chief Justice chose to ignore. Ellis demonstrates that the points which mattered most to the States were not treated by the Court's decision:the private, profit-making nature of the Second Bank, its right to establish branches wherever it wanted with immunity from state taxation, and the right of the States to tax the Bank simply for revenue purposes. Addressing these issues would have undercut Marshall's nationalist view of theConstitution, and his unwillingness to adequately deal with them produced immediate, widespread, and varied dissatisfaction among the States. Ellis argues that Marshall's "aggressive nationalism" was ultimately counter-productive: his overreaching led to Jackson's democratic rejection of thedecision and failed to reconcile states' rights to the effective operation of the institutions of federal governance. Elegantly written, full of new information, and the first in-depth examination of McCulloch v. Maryland, Aggressive Nationalism offers an incisive, fresh interpretation of this familiar decision central to understanding the shifting politics of the early republic as well as the development offederal-state relations, a source of constant division in American politics, past and present.

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McCulloch v. Maryland (1819) has long been recognized to be one of the most significant decisions ever handed down by the United States Supreme Court. Indeed, many scholars have argued it is the greatest opinion handed down by the greatest Chief Justice, in which he declared the act creatingthe Second Bank of the United States constitu...

Richard E. Ellis is Professor of History at the University of Buffalo, SUNY. Among his published works are The Jeffersonian Crisis: Courts and Politics in the Young Republic (1971) and The Union at Risk: Jacksonian Democracy, State's Rights, and the Nullification Crisis (1987). He has held grants from The John Simon Guggenheim Foundat...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:256 pages, 6.3 × 9.09 × 1.1 inPublished:August 28, 2007Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195323564

ISBN - 13:9780195323566

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Table of Contents

Introduction1. The United States Supreme Court vs.the States2. The Second Bank of the United States3. The States vs. the 2BUS4. McCulloch v. Maryland5. Virginia's Response to McCulloch v. Maryland6. Ohio and the Bank of the United States7. Ohio and Georgia before the United States Supreme Court8. CodaEndnotesIndex

Editorial Reviews

"Richard Ellis always finds new ways of understanding familiar topics - with the added, singular virtue of being so right. A judicious historian, Ellis determinedly renders historical events in real time and place. John Marshall's McCulloch v. Maryland opinion--long a chestnut ofconstitutional interpretation and analysis--endures as a bold statement for perennial problems of federalism and constitutional interpretation (despite Justice Scalia's misguided disdain). Ellis effectively challenges Marshall's questionable determination to protect the Bank of the United States;but Ellis also properly recognizes that Marshall's striking language remains the standard for a wise, pragmatic, and evolving interpretation of the Constitution. We can be grateful for this extraordinary book."--Stanley Kutler, author of Privilege and Creative Destruction: The Charles River BridgeCase