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Gibbons v. Ogden

Steamships: Navigating For The Future, A Fight Between Two Partners, Commerce Or Navigation?, Implications For The Future


Thomas Gibbons


Aaron Ogden

Appellant's Claim

That the exclusive right granted by the state of New York to Aaron Ogden to operate steamships within state waters was in conflict with the steamship license issued under an act of Congress to Thomas Gibbons.

Chief Lawyers for Appellant

Thomas A. Emmet, Thomas J. Oakley

Chief Lawyers for Appellee

William Wirt, Daniel Webster, David B. Ogden

Justices for the Court

Gabriel Duvall, William Johnson, John Marshall (writing for the Court), Joseph Story, Thomas Todd, Bushrod Washington

Justices Dissenting

None (Smith Thompson did not participate)


Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

2 March 1824


That a state cannot grant exclusive rights to navigate in its waters, because this is a breach of Congress' right to regulate interstate commerce, as guaranteed by the Constitution.


This was the first case ever to go to the Supreme Court under the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

The case of Gibbons v. Ogden has been called "the emancipation proclamation of American commerce." The ruling in this case established the importance of commerce between the states, and of any technological advance that might enable commerce between the states.

Related Cases

  • Shreveport Rate Cases, 234 U.S. 342 (1914).
  • Mulford v. Smith, 307 U.S. 38 (1939).
  • National League of Cities v. Usery, 426 U.S. 833 (1976).

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1918 to 1940