Law school launches John Marshall Lecture Series highlighting chief justice’s ties to Raleigh

image of John Marshall

RALEIGH — Campbell Law School Dean J. Rich Leonard will discuss the time John Marshall, fourth chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (1801-1835), spent in Raleigh as a circuit judge at the inaugural John Marshall Lecture at noon on Jan. 31, at the law school.

Dean Leonard’s lecture on Chief Justice Marshall kicks off Campbell Law School’s 10/40 “From the Capital to the Creek” anniversary celebration — recognizing the 10th anniversary of moving to downtown Raleigh from Buies Creek and the 40th anniversary of its first graduating class.

Photo of Dean J. Rich Leonard sitting in former U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Marshall's chair, which has been donated to the law school.
Dean J. Rich Leonard sitting in former U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Marshall’s chair, which has been donated to the law school.

“In the early 1800s, Chief Justice Marshall traveled to Raleigh twice a year, for 33 years, to convene the North Carolina Circuit Court and preside over the courts in the Fifth Circuit of Virginia and North Carolina,” Dean Leonard wrote in his law review article. “It’s amazing to dive into this little-known facet of U.S., North Carolina, and Raleigh history and discover the impact this important man had on our community.”

In addition to his travels and the legacy he built in the legal community, Marshall’s remarkable history in Raleigh even extends to where he relaxed after a hard day’s work.

In 2017, Dean Leonard met the Chief Justice’s great-great-granddaughter who entrusted the dean with a storied piece of Americana in the form of Marshall’s rocking chair, which research reveals to have most likely been built by the Day Brothers. The Day Brothers were pre-Civil War free African-American brothers, who were North Carolina’s premier furniture makers.

“What gets me most excited about this chair is the continued judicial history behind it,” Dean Leonard explains. “Marshall was an early and strong supporter of the American Colonization Society, which helped with the founding of Liberia as a state for freed slaves. The elder Day Brother would return to Africa where he, too, would sit on his country’s highest court as a Chief Justice.”

A reception featuring the unveiling of the John Marshall chair’s permanent exhibit in the Campbell Law Library will follow the inaugural John Marshall Lecture, which will be held in Room 105. Registration is available at Mobile Cause.