Gibbons vs Ogden

Aaron Burress & Bryce Greene


Aaron Ogden filed a complaint in the Court of Chancery of New York asking the court to stop Thomas Gibbons from using the the waterways he used. Eventually both that court and The New York Error Court both were in favor of Ogden and issued an injunction to restrict Gibbons from operating his steamboat. Following this Gibbons appealed for Supreme Court arguing that the monopoly conflicted with federal law.


The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Gibbons. The sole deciding factor of this was Congresses power to promulgate the law at issue was Commerce Clause. This led to the Supreme Court stating that Gibbons federal license was a legitimate exercise of the regulation of commerce provided in Article 1 section 8 of the constitution. Due to the Supremacy Clause all state laws and ruling were overruled by Congress.


Due to this final decision, State-licensed monopolies on island waterways ended and business competition was greatly encouraged. This also led to Chief Justice Roger B. Taney to go a step further and remove and eliminate all State-licensed monopolies completely (in Charles River Bridge v. Warren Bridge). The Gibbons decision showed the supremacy of the National Government in all matters that affect interstate and foreign commerce. Which later led to Marshall Courts board reading of the Commerce Clause and later extended to include federal regulation of railways, airlines, pipelines, television stations, telephone communication, and even racial segregation.