History 8-2, Assignment Seven, The Judicial Branch in Antebellum America




Assignment Seven
Four Important Supreme Court Cases, 1800-1860

Deadline, April 19, 80 Points

Click here to go back to the web site for History 8-1.




How did the decisions of the Supreme Court shape America in the years prior to the Civil War?

How do those decisions still affect us?






For this assignment your group will prepare a brief lesson about one of the four court cases we will explore be exploring.

You need to do two things:

  1. Prepare your lesson for the class. Be sure to address the questions below.
  2. Answer all the questions on the handout.

You will receive two grades on this assignment. One will be for your lesson and the other will be for the completed assignment. You need to do them both.



Essential Case Questions

Scott v. Sandford
How might this case have contributed to the causes of the Civil War? Explain your answer.

Marbury v. Madison
Legal scholars often say this is the most powerful Supreme Court decision in the history of America. What might make it so? Explain your answer.

Gibbons v. Ogden
How did this case contribute to expanding the powers of Congress and interpreting the Elastic Clause? Explain your answer.

McCulloch v. Maryland
How did this case expand the powers of Congress? How did it affect the relationship between the states and the national government? Explain your answer.


Things to teach the clas about your case

Marbury v. Madison
How did this case begin?
Who were the Midnight Justices?
What did Marbury want the Court to do?
Upon what did Marbury base his claim?
What was the challenge facing the Court?
What powerful precedent came from this decision?

McCulloch v. Maryland
How did this case begin?
What did the State of Maryland want the bank of the United States to do?
Upon what did the State of Maryland base its claim?
What part of the Constitution did the Court use as the basis for its decision?
What famous saying by John Marshall came from the Court’s decision?

Gibbons v. Ogden
How did this case begin?
What special license was involved?
What did the State of New York do that began this case? 
What turned out to be the central constitutional issue of this case?
How did the precedents from this case affect the history of America?

Scott v. Sandford
What was Scott’s background?
Upon what did he base his claim for freedom?
What did Taney decide?
How did opponents claim that Taney had exceeded the bounds of the case?
How did this case increase the tensions over slavery?
How might this case have contributed to the Civil War?

Linked Documents

Marbury v. Madison


McCulloch v. Maryland


Gibbons v. Ogden


Scott v. Sandford



Here is the fill in the blank portion of the assignment


Word Bank

    Judicial Commission
    The Missouri Compromise of 1820
    John Marshall
    Roger Taney
    State Law
    The power to tax is the power to destroy.
    Midnight Justices
    Contributed to the Civil War.
    Monopoly granted by the State of New York
    Writ of Mandamus
    Bank of the United States
    Steamboat Traffic on the Hudson River
    Thomas Jefferson
    Once free, always free.
    The Judiciary Act of 1789
    Judicial Review
    Enslaved people had not right to legal remedy.
    Interstate Commerce
    Scott v. Sandford
    William Marbury
    McCulloch v. Maryland
    James Madison
    Gibbons v. Ogden



  1. In the case of ________________________ the Court held that commerce between the states was under the control of ________________________ and not ________________________.
  2. ________________________ was a powerful legal scholar who established some of the most powerful Supreme Court ________________________ in America’s history.
  3. ________________________ was the Chief Justice in the case of ________________________. This decision is widely seen as leading directly to the conflicts surrounding the Civil War.
  4. ________________________ led the Court in the decision of Gibbons v. Ogden. This decision held that ________________________ had the power to regulated interstate ________________________.
  5. ________________________ was the President who ordered ________________________ not to deliver the commissions to the ________________________. 
  6. ________________________ called upon the Court to deliver a ________________________, essentially forcing the United States government to deliver his position as a justice.
  7. In the case of ________________________ the state wanted to tax the Bank of the United States. Chief Justice ________________________ famously declared that the ________________________ ________________________. And said that the legal actions of ________________________ could not be regulated by ________________________.
  8. In the case of ________________________, ________________________ declared that enslaved people had no right to legal remedy. He also declared that _______________________________________________ was unconstiutional and that ________________________ could not be appled in the doctrine of ________________________
  9. The case of ________________________ orginally began with ________________________ ________________________ to control ________________________ ________________________, but it became the basis for the power of ________________________ to control interstate shipping.
  10. Many legal scholars view the decision by ________________________ in the case of ________________________ to be the most powerful case in the history of the United States. This is generally due to the fact that this case established the concept of ________________________.
  11. The case of ________________________ began when President John Adams appointed a group of judges, now called collectively ________________________ in the last hours of his presidency. The incoming President, ________________________, ordered his new Secretary of State, ________________________, not to delived the appointments. One of the appointees, ________________________ sued for his appointment. he cited the ________________________ is his call for a ________________________ to force the federal government to give him his appointment








  • Links
  • Printed files
  • Click here to open a copy of the assignment.
  • Media files
    Click here for the link to the short documentary about Marbury v. Madison.

    Click here to view the short video about McCulloch v. Maryland.

    This is the link to the video about Gibbons v. Ogden.

    Click here to see the video about the Dred Scott v. Sandford case.

  • Online files

Landmark Cases Reading Materials Links

Marbury v. Madison
McCulloch v. Maryland
Gibbons v. Ogden
Scott v. Sandford