In this watershed ruling, the Supreme Court supported the federal license of a steamboat operator over a state monopoly license holder, thus expanding federal control through the Constitution’s commerce clause.
Aaron Ogden had a New York license giving him the exclusive right to operate a steamship between New Jersey and the port of New York City. The license had been purchased from Robert Fulton
In the Court’s first serious attempt to interpret the meaning of the commerce clause, the justices unanimously overturned the New York courts and ruled in favor of Gibbons. Writing the opinion for the Court, Chief Justice John Marshall
The issues of commerce raised by this steamboat ruling would become increasingly controversial during the next quarter century. After several inconclusive attempts to formulate an approach acceptable to various interests, the Court would finally arrive at an enduring compromise in Cooley v. Port Wardens of Philadelphia
Maurice G. Baxter, The Steamboat Monopoly: Gibbons v. Ogden. New York: Alfred Knopf, 1972. Levinson, Isabel Simone. “Gibbons v. Ogden”: Controlling Trade Between States. Springfield, N.J.: Enslow Publishers, 1999.
Commerce, regulation of
States’ rights and state sovereignty