Gibbons v. Ogden

Why is the case important?

Gibbons v. Ogden Brief The central theme of this case was the power reserved by the Constitution to the federal government to regulate interstate commerce through the Commerce Clause.


The New York legislature enacted a statute granting Fulton and Livingston an exclusive right to operate a steamboat in New York waters. Thereupon, Fulton and Livingston licensed Ogden to operate a ferry between New York and New Jersey. Later, Gibbons began operating a ferry, licensed under a statute enacted by Congress that necessarily entailed Gibbons entering into New York waters, thereby violating Ogden’s monopoly. Ogden obtained an injunction against Gibbons from a New York court.

Key Players

1 Appellants : Gibbons, possessor of a federal license for “coasting trade” which granted him a right to travel along the New York-Elizabethtown waterway path.
2 Appellees : Ogden, possessor of a New York State steam-boat license which granted exclusive rights to transport passengers along the waterway between New York and Elizabethtown.


Does the Commerce Clause give Congress authority over interstate navigation?


Justice Marshall concluded that regulation of navigation by steamboat operators and others for purposes of conducting interstate commerce was a power reserved to and exercised by the Congress under the Commerce Clause. As interstate navigation fell under interstate commerce, New York could not interfere with it, and the law was therefore invalid. In a concurring opinion, Justice William Johnson argued that the national government had exclusive power over interstate commerce, negating state laws interfering with the exercise of that power. Justice Thompson did not participate in the discussion or decision of the case.

What was the effect of the supreme court case Gibbons v. Ogden?


The student should note that chief Justice John Marshall (J. Marshall) in his holding is not saying that commerce that is completely internal and that does not affect other States is subject to regulation by Congress under the Commerce Clause. Gibbons v. Ogden Summary The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Gibbons, who was in possession of a federal license for The “coasting trade”, and asserted that his right to transport passengers across The New York-Elizabethtown waterway superseded that of Ogden, who merely possessed a New York State license authorizing him to transport a steam-boat across The waterway. This was because, under The Commerce Clause, The federal government maintained The power to regulate interstate commerce, including The “coasting trade” and other transportation across waterways.

Daniel Webster for Gibbons, William Wirt Attorney General of the United States, for Gibbons, Thomas Addis Emmet for Ogden, Thomas J. Oakley for Ogden
Ferry line between Elizabeth, New Jersey, and New York City
Aaron Ogden
Thomas Gibbons
Marshall Court
22 US 1 (1824)
Feb 8, 1824 Feb 5, 1824 Feb 6, 1824 Feb 7, 1824 Feb 9, 1824
Mar 2, 1824