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The Madeira Society: A Toast To John Marshall

May 24, 2017 by Scott Layman

Photos by Laura Frayser

In November, Madeira Society members gathered at Tuckahoe Plantation for food, fellowship, and of course, Madeira. Tad Thompson, JMF Board Member and Tuckahoe owner, offered a history of the house, followed by Judge Roger Gregory, also a JMF Board Member, who introduced William & Mary President Taylor Reveley, keynote speaker. In his talk, Reveley pondered the what ifs.

Thompson, Reveley and Brian Hager.

“I’ve always been fascinated by “what if” questions – what if the Commonwealth of Virginia had gradually begun abolishing slavery in the Old Dominion early in the 19th century, well before the Civil War? What if during that terrible conflict Robert E. Lee had won the battle of Gettysburg? What if the great European powers of the early 20th century had not engulfed themselves in a devastating, pointless world war? What if the USA had avoided major military involvement in Vietnam and later Iraq?

Velda Edwards Gregory and Judge Roger Gregory.

“And what if John Marshall’s mother had borne a mere 14 children not the 15 she actually bore, and if John had been the child she never had? The fact that Marshall’s mother managed to survive 15 full-term pregnancies in the 18th century is powerful testimony to the strength of his maternal line and genetic inheritance. Or what if John Marshall had died during the Revolutionary War? He saw his fair share of combat, and he had to survive Valley Forge.”

Taylor Reveley and Tad Thompson

Reveley offered a colorful account of Marshall’s life, from the Blue Ridge Mountain foothills of Fauquier County to the Supreme Court, and the many stops and points of service in between. In answering the question “What accounts for Marshall’s success as Chief Justice?” Reveley noted Marshall’s comparative advantages of a first-rate intellect, the blessing of boundless energy and finally, the gift of the “common touch.”

Strings duet courtesy of Trinity Episcopal School.

King, Judge Gregory and Reveley.

Jeni Reedy and David and Patricia King.

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