John Marshall is the greatest judge in American history. As Chief Justice of the Supreme Court for thirty-four years—a record that still stands—he impressed, charmed, and defied colleagues, skeptics and enemies, transforming an institution to which the founding fathers had given relatively little thought into a pillar of the nation. In 1801 when Marshall became Chief Justice the job lacked “dignity,” as one contemporary put it, while the judiciary was, in the words of another, the “weakest” branch of the federal government. When Marshall died in 1835, he and the Court he led had rebuked two presidents and a dozen states, and laid down principles of law and politics that still apply. Now, when the Supreme Court makes the news every day it sits, and every time a new justice must be appointed, there is no question of its prominence—a prominence it owes, in the first instance, to Marshall, the man who made it.