Philadelphia: C.P. Wayne, 1804-1807. First edition. Half calf over marbled boards, rebound to style and preserving early marbled endpapers. Complete with all five volumes plus the scarce atlas. Collating xxii, 488, 45, [1, blank]; viii, 560, 72; viii, 580, 28; viii, 626, , 16, 33-36 (final notes from Volume V but bound out of order); vii, [1, blank], 779, [1, blank], 32: complete, including frontis, titles, and atlas with all 10 maps and 22 page subscriber's list. Scattered foxing and toning throughout, with offsetting in Volume I from frontis. Small closed tear to outer left margin of plate V not affecting text or images.
John Marshall was an eminent statesman and jurist. He put his burgeoning law career on hold to fight in the Revolutionary War, thus making a profound impact in political and legal history for the next fifty years. He was a close confidant of George Washington and other leading political figures of the era, particularly those who embraced a strong Federal government. President John Adams nominated Marshall as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, serving from 1801-1835.
Early in his tenure as Chief Justice, Marshall began a biography of George Washington. The project turned into a multi-volume work that would also offer a history of the United States and a defense of Federalism, which was under attack during the Jefferson administration. Departing from the mythological and apocryphal treatment that characterizes the other prominent biography of George Washington from the first decade of the nineteenth century, Mason Weems' The Life of Washington, Marshall's biography of George Washington quotes liberally from other important historical works of time, such as William Gordon's history of the American revolution. While Marshall would end up revising the Life of Washington for an abridged work, published posthumously, Marshall's Life of Washington is a foundation of American political biography. (Item #3501)