Gibbons v. Ogden



In 1824, the United States Supreme Court tried a case between several boat navigators in New York. The State of New York had granted Robert R. Livingston and Robert Fulton the exclusive right to navigate New York State waters. The two steam boat operators then bestowed the right to navigate waters between New York City and certain ports to Aaron Ogden. Another steam boat navigator, Thomas Gibbons, attempted to sail his boat in waters reserved to Ogden. Ogden took Gibbons to Court, filing an injunction to restrain Gibbons from sailing in the waters. The court affirmed Ogden's right to maintain the water. Gibbons appealed the decision several times, but every court in New York- including the highest court in the state, ruled against him. Finally, Gibbons appealed to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court ruled in his favor.

Opposing Viewpoints


Ogden: Ogden's lawyer stated that the states very often passed laws on interstate regulations, and that the state reserve concurrent power with Congress on all issues regarding interstate commerce.


Gibbons: Gibbon's lawyer argued that Congress had an exclusive right to regulate interstate commerce, as stated
in The Commerce Clause (Article I, Section 8) of the Constitution. Additionally, he stated that a congressional act called "An act for enrolling and licensing ships and vessels to be employed in the coasting trade and fisheries, and for regulating the same" also granted him the right to sail in the waters. He stated that this congressional act was superior to the privilege given by New York.


Who deserves to win? Ogden or Gibbons?
Who Deserves to win? Gibbons or Ogden? free polls 

The Supreme court ruled in Gibbon's favor.
It decided that a state may not enact legislation that contradicts a congressional law, even if the state law regulates an internal affair. Additionally, the court ruled that the Commerce Clause granted congress the ability to pass and enforce said congressional law.


This case was crucial because it established the supremacy of the federal government over the states. It opened the door for increased federal control over economic growth. This decision set a precedent that would be used in later years to protect corporations and other private institutions from local government. This decision was highly nationalistic because it led the way for a strong unification of the states economically by Congress and the federal government.