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The seventh section of the "case stated" asserted: That at and before the commencement of the war in 1756, and during its whole continuance, and at the time of the treaty of February 10th, 1763, the Indian tribes or nations ...
Indians were only the ostensible issue of the case.
The real issue was: who would get to inherit the legacy of the crown?
Marshall celebrated federalism as a basis for cohesion and westward expansion of the United States.
He led the Supreme Court through a convoluted period of post-revolutionary politics to establish the notion of national Constitutional law under which a "separation of powers" might govern and protect the security of private property.
Marshall's opinion would adopt this device of a transient "American Indian sovereignty," an indigenous sovereignty capable of effacing itself or of being effaced.
His opinion in would ensconce this as a key feature of federal law.acquir[ed] direct or indirect control of tribal politics, ..[and] often determined the outcome of treaty negotiations. The rise of the half-breeds to power, the rewards they received, and their efforts on behalf of tribal reform gave rise to bitter opposition.What is crucial is that we understand the starting point.The beatification of the fourth Chief Justice as the "definer of a nation" indicates the wider context in which the Indian cases were decided.were revested in the crown of England; whereupon the colony became a royal government ...and so continued until it became a free and independent State...." The only encroachment noted on the geographical limits and extent of the colony was that they "were altered and curtailed by the treaty of February 10th, 1763, between Great Britain and France, and by the letters patent granted by the King of England, for establishing the colonies of Carolina, Maryland, and Pennsylvania." Next, the litigants provided a capsule history of the French and Indian War, from "some time previous to the year 1756," when "the French government, laying a claim to the country west of the Allegheny or Appalachian mountains ...In each instance, what was at issue in the cases centered not on the Indians, but on competing groups of white men for lands in Illinois, claimed by the plaintiffs under a purchase and conveyance from the Piankeshaw Indians, and by the defendant, under a grant from the United States.It came to the Court on a "case stated," upon which there was a judgment below for the defendant.These cases came to the Court in the later years of Marshall's tenure as Chief Justice (1801 -1835), after he had an already well-established reputation as an "ardent nationalist" and "a kind of mythical being." Whether or not the "myth" already included the image of Marshall as a friend to the indigenous peoples of the continent, it is clear that these three opinions were in later years to have that effect.From the perspective developed in this essay, the "myth" of Marshall as a champion of indigenous peoples is problematic.