[Unit 4] Modified DBQ Practice Prompt

Practice analyzing sourcing and using a document as evidence. Use the passage below as evidence to support an evaluation of the causes and effects of policy debates in the early republic from 1800-1824. (That’s basically a prompt.) Include both usage (summary) and sourcing analysis (HIPP).

Source: Chief Justice John Marshall, Marbury v. Madison, 1803

"…If this court is not authorized to issue a writ of mandamus…It must be because the law is constitutional and therefore absolutely incapable of conferring the authority…Certainly, all those who have framed written constitution contemplate them as forming the fundamental and paramount law…and consequently…an act of the legislature repugnant to the constitution is void…”

As the American nation began, the oppressive treatment of Britain such as a various limiting acts on the colonies such as the Intolerable Acts of the 1760s caused a large amount of hesitance towards developing federal power. In his time at the supreme court, Justice John Marshall established precedents that granted the supreme court the power to declare laws unconstitutional as is stated in the Marbury v. Madison ruling in 1803. The policy debates that were resolved through the supreme court allowed for the federal power of the nation to grow that allowed for the success of the constitution (avoiding its failure as occured with the Articles of Confederation).

In this document, John Marshall, a midnight judge appointed by John Adams, is delivering the verdict of Marbury v. Madison. After the Revolution of 1800, when power switched from Federalist to Democratic-Republican hands, the judiciary court, led by Chief Justice John Marshall, maintained federalist influence in government. Marbury v. Madison was a landmark case that expanded the judicial branch’s power by setting the precedent of judicial review, wherein the Supreme Court could declare laws void if they violated the Constitution. This document supports the idea that, due to John Marshall and his Supreme Court, the role of government expanded.

Perla, nice work on summarizing what the document was about. Your Historical Context was relevant, but perhaps a bit too far away from the date of the prompt (1803). I’d stick with talking about debates over federal power (like you started to do) that existed after 1790 and before 1810 or so. So, for example, talk about the Jeffersonian reaction to Adams’ presidency (think Alien & Sedition Acts) or Jefferson’s presidency in general, since he was president during Marbury.

Caroline, your response used and analyzed the document well. You’d earn both points! I especially like how, in your last sentence, you tied in the usage of the document to an argument about the federal government.

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