BLTC Press Titles


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Tao Te Ching

Lao Tzu, James Legge (trans.)


The Count of Monte Cristo

Alexandre Dumas


My Man Jeeves

P. G. Wodehouse


The Secret Doctrine, Volume I Cosmogenesis

H. P. Blavatsky


Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States

by Joseph Story

Excerpt:

A tax upon a bill of lading of goods transported upon the high seas is a regulation of commerce, and therefore void. Almy v. California, 24 How. 169. See Woodruff v. Parham, 8 Wall. 138. A tax on railroad and stage companies for every passenger carried out of the State by them, is not void as a regulation of commerce in the absence of any conflicting regulation by Congress. But it is void as opposed to the free right of the government to transport troops through all parts of the Union, by the usual and most expeditious modes of transportation, and to the right of citizens to approach the great departments of the government, the ports of entry through which commerce is conducted, and the various federal offices in the States. Cn,ndull v. Nevada, 6 Wall. 35. The legislation of Congress on the subject of the transfer of mortgages of vessels enrolled and licensed supersedes the legislation of the States on the subject. White's Bank v. Smith, 7 Wall. 646. The power of the federal government to make improvements in navigable waters, when called into exercise, is not only paramount but exclusive. United States v. Duluth, 1 Dillon, 469.

A review of the cases will show, that of late the Supreme Court has recognized a clear distinction between those cases in which State regulations are admissible, and those in which they are not. Whatever subjects of the power over commerce are in their nature national, or admit of one uniform system or plan of regulation, are to be regarded as within the exclusive control of Congress; but other subjects, which are to be regulated in view of local circumstances and facts, and which can usually be best regulated by State legislation, are subject to such legislation, so far as it does not interfere with any action of Congress. In this last category belong the regulation of pilots, the construction of bridges over navigable waters, &c. See Crandall v. Nevada, 6 Wall. 42; Steamship Co. v. Portwardens, Id. 31; Ex parte McNiel, 13 Wall.

materially enhanced by excluding the waters from them and the adjacent low and marshy grounds, and the health of the inhabitants be improved. Measures calculated to produce these objects, provided they do not come into collision with the power of the general government, are undoubtedly within those which are reserved to the States.1

§ 1074. In the next place, to what extent, and for what objects and purposes the power to regulate commerce may be constitutionally applied.

§ 1075. And, first, among the States. It is not doubted that it extends to the regulation of navigation, and to the coasting trade and fisheries, within, as well as without any State, wherever it is connected with the commerce or intercouse with any other State, or with foreign nations.2 It extends to the regulation and government of seamen on board of American ships; and to conferring privileges upon ships built and owned in the United States in

1 Willson v. Blackbird Creek Company, 2 Peters's R. 245.

* Gibbons v. Ogden, 9 Wheat. R. 189 to 198; Id. 211 to 215; 1 Tuck. Black. Comm. App. 247 to 249; Id. 250. [See also The Chusan, 2 Story C. C. 456; The Wilson, 1 Brock. 423; United States v. Coombs, 12 Pet. 72; and cases cited in note to § 1072, ante. And acts done on land which interfere with, obstruct, or prevent commerce or navigation may be made punishable by act of Congress under its general authority to make all laws necessary and proper to execute its delegated powers. United States V. Coombs, supra.

The case of Gibbons v. Ogden should be considered in connection with the more recent case of Veazie v. Moor, 14 How. 568. In the former the laws of New York, which assumed to grant to certain parties the exclusive right to navigate all the waters within the jurisdiction of that State, with boats propelled by steam, for a term of years, were declared inoperative as against the laws of the United States regulating the coasting trade, and consequently could not restrain vessels licensed to carry on the coasting trade under the laws of the United States from navigating those waters in the prosecution of that trade. In the latter case a similar exclusive right t6 navigate the upper waters of a river lying wholly within the limits of the State granting it, separated from tidal waters by falls impassable for purposes of navigation, and not forming a part of any continuous track of commerce between two or more States, or with a foreign country, was held not repugnant to the Constitution or any law of the United States. Mr. Justice Daniel, delivering the opinion of the court, says : —


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