• Last updated on November 11, 2022

By upholding an 1845 federal law expanding internal navigation, the Supreme Court substantially increased federal control of inland waterways.

Chief Justice Roger Brooke TaneyTaney, Roger Brooke;Genesee Chief v. Fitzhugh[Genesee Chief v. Fitzhugh] wrote the 8-1 majority opinion expanding federal admiralty authority over navigable inland freshwater rivers and lakes, thereby setting aside the earlier reliance on the British admiralty rule that the central government controlled only tidal waters. Taney found that a rule sufficient for an island was not adequate for a nation with the continental expanse of the United States. Specifically, the Supreme Court sustained an 1845 federal statute that sought to expand internal navigation in the new era of steam-powered boats. Justice Peter V. Daniel dissented, arguing that the English rule should govern because it was in effect at the time the Constitution was adopted, a view that would have restricted the development of commerce.Admiralty and maritime law;Genesee Chief v. Fitzhugh[Genesee Chief v. Fitzhugh]

Admiralty and maritime law

British background to U.S. judiciary

Federalism

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