Books, Reviews, Prints

American Hero

John Marshall, Chief Justice of the United States

By David Bruce Smith
Illustrations by Clarice Smith

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About American Hero

John Marshall was a good son, a kind older brother, a loving father and husband, and a dear friend to many. He was a soldier for the Revolutionary Army, a successful lawyer, a congressman, and Secretary of State. Most importantly, he was Chief Justice of the United States. As Chief Justice, John Marshall made the Supreme Court the strong and powerful body it is today. Richly illustrated in graphite and watercolor, American Hero tells the life story of the founding father history almost forgot—John Marshall, the Great Chief Justice.


David Bruce Smith
Clarice Smith
40 pages
Age Range
Grade Level

Praise for American Hero

John Marshall reveals a great man and a great judge who was a warm and admirable human being. It is a book young readers will enjoy -- and so will their parents.
— Thomas Fleming
Author of First in Their Hearts: A Life of George Washington
With their evocative words and pictures, David Bruce Smith and Clarice Smith recount the story of a great American life and bring the past alive on the page. This is a book for children and parents to enjoy – and to learn from – together.
— Adam Goodheart
Author of 1861: The Civil War Awakening
This is a fascinating tale of a boy growing up in the late 18th century, a beautifully illustrated celebration of the joy of a life with few amenities and no modern luxuries. David Bruce Smith’s captivating story telling ability and Clarice Smith’s wonderful paintings lovingly capture the flavor of the life and the story of children in that period. Young readers will delight in the cunning way young John spends his time, triggering questions about the roles of important figures in American history. This is a perfect book for 2nd, 3rd and 4th-graders. It is a perfect teacher’s tool for teaching about and preparing for President’s Day, a Presidential Election and the concept of democracy, as it captures the critical notion of the separation of powers and the role of the judiciary. Through vivid descriptions and outstanding drawings, this authentic portrayal of late 18th century life will allows young readers to relate to the story through their own lives.
— Ayelet “Ellie” Lichtash
Founder & Head of School, Alef Bet Montessori School
American Hero by David Bruce Smith is a bewitching introduction to John Marshall, America’s greatest judge.  With its graceful illustrations, the deftly-crafted book conveys a warm sense of how different daily life was when America began, and a glimpse of the man who was a true hero in war and peace.  Perfect for new readers.
— David O. Stewart
Author of The Summer of 1787: The Men Who Invented the Constitution
At a time when our nation struggles to impart to our children the stories of the extraordinary men and women who embodied the principles of democracy we have enjoyed for over two centuries, we are fortunate at the combined brilliance of David Bruce Smith and Clarice Smith to breathe new life into an essential Founding Father, John Marshall.  This is a beautifully written treatment of an epic life made real for children's minds.  In an era with so many competing media exist to distract the young audience, a book so richly enhanced with exquisite art draws children powerfully to the life of our most important Chief Justice.  The richness of the artwork makes a vivid portrait of this important American, a life lived before photography, and removes the remoteness of time. The combination of inspired prose and beautiful art is pure elegance to draw in eager young readers.  This is a story made relevant to young minds by demonstrating how actions from a long time ago, that still resonate in our lives today, originated from real men and women.  David Bruce Smith has written a book that belongs in the library of every elementary school in the country.
— John Danielson
Chief of Staff, The United States Department of Education, 2001-2003

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