John Marshall Collects His Pay As Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court

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The Compensation Act of 1789 set the salary of a chief justice of the Supreme Court at $4,000, and it remained that amount until 1819 when it was raised to $5,000. So John Marshall received $4,000 in his early years in that office, and the salary was paid in quarterly payments of...

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John Marshall Collects His Pay As Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court

The Compensation Act of 1789 set the salary of a chief justice of the Supreme Court at $4,000, and it remained that amount until 1819 when it was raised to $5,000. So John Marshall received $4,000 in his early years in that office, and the salary was paid in quarterly payments of $1,000 each.

Autograph document signed, Washington, March 30, 1813, to William Whann, the Cashier of the Bank of Columbia, being a check or pay order to collect his salary. “When my quarter salary which will become due on the first of April shall be received, you will please to pay to James Brown esquire or bearer the sum of one thousand dollars.”

This brief order illustrates how federal salaries were collected back then. The funds became available at a bank depository, which was the Bank of the United States until its charter ran out in 1811. Thereafter much of its business was conducted by the Bank of Columbia, until the Second Bank of the United States was up and running in 1817. The federal employee – in this case John Marshall – wrote to the cashier of the bank – in this case William Whann – with instructions on how to dispose of it. John Brown was Marshall’s trusted secretary, so we would speculate that this James Brown was a kinsman of his and acting as a personal assistant to Marshall. So we would suggest that Marshall wanted to collect this salary for his own use.

This is our first document of Marshall collecting his salary as Chief Justice.

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