Virginia v. Maryland

LOCATION: United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1957-1958)

CITATION: 355 US 269 (1957)
ARGUED: Dec 10, 1957
DECIDED: Dec 16, 1957

Facts of the case


Media for Virginia v. Maryland

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - December 10, 1957 (Part 2) in Virginia v. Maryland

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - December 10, 1957 (Part 1) in Virginia v. Maryland

Earl Warren:

Number 12, Original, Commonwealth of Virginia, plaintiff, versus the State of Maryland.

Mr. Hicks you may proceed?

C. F. Hicks:

May it please the Court, Mr. Chief Justice and associate justices.

The argument before the court today is about the latest in a series of events which are concerned with Potomac River for approximately 350 years.

Ever since the grant was made to Lord Calvert, the Lord Baltimore by the King of England in 1632, there has been dispute between Virginia and Maryland as to the Potomac River.

Felix Frankfurter:

But intermittently, intermittently you have settled it peacefully.

C. F. Hicks:

That's right Your Honor.

It has been peaceful and time in and time out it will flare up again.

In 1776, the independence of the colonists, the two states became sovereigns it flared up in one of these intermittent times and finally in 1784 the two states each appointed commissioners, two from Virginia and three from Maryland met at Mount Vernon in March 1785 and these five commissioners drew up what I will refer to today as the compact.

Felix Frankfurter:

May I say that each state has the right to be part of the commissioners of each side.

C. F. Hicks:

I think it is just so Mr. Justice Frankfurter.

The commissioners were outstanding men from the two states.

There was -- one of the commissioner was appointed by Virginia was James Madison.

He was the -- he was not President when the compact was growing up but Samuel Chase of Maryland, George Mason of Virginia, the author of Bill of Rights, both of these men were men were among commissioners.

Felix Frankfurter:

Edmund Randolph?

C. F. Hicks:

He was appointed, but he did not actually serve at the time the compact was drawn.

He was appointed as one of the commissioners but he did not meet with the commissioners at Mount Vernon 1785.

Felix Frankfurter:

And who else James Madison (Inaudible)

C. F. Hicks:

George Mason.

Felix Frankfurter:

George Mason.

C. F. Hicks:

And Alexander Henderson and from Maryland Samuel Chase, Thomas, Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer and Thomas Stone, these five were the five commissioners.

Now the main thing that Virginia had instructed its commissioners to seek when they met with the commissioners from the State of Maryland was ownership in the southern shore of the Potomac River in Virginia and in its citizens with full right of navigation, commerce and fishery in the river proper.

The main thing that the State of Maryland had instructed its commissioners to seek was free and unrestrained, untaxed navigation for its vessels in commerce through the Virginia capes.

When the compact was drawn up each state got it what it desired and what it sought and in 1786 each state by their general assembles sitting respectively in Annapolis and Richmond ratified and confirmed the compact of 1785 as drawn up and presented to them by these five commissioners.

The compact contained 13 paragraphs or provisions.

Paragraphs one through six, nine and 12 dealt with the respective rights of navigation and commerce between the two states on the Potomac River and on the Chesapeake Bay.

Paragraph seven and eight relate to property, riparian and fishing rights and regulations on the Potomac River and on the Pocomoke River.

Paragraph 10 related to -- or relates to criminal jurisdiction on the Potomac, Pocomoke and Chesapeake Bay.

Paragraph 11 concerns civil jurisdiction over these same bodies of waters and the ports thereon.

Paragraph 13 provides how the compact was to become effective and how it was to be ratified and the effect of it once it had been ratified by the two contracting states.