Gibbons v. Ogden
Backgroud Information: In 1824, the state of New York gave Robert R. Livingston and Robert Fulton a monopoly over the steamboat business. Aaron Ogden bought interest into the monopoly so he could make money off of his steamboat business. Thomas Gibbons started a rival boating business so Aaron Ogden sued Gibbons. The state of New York found Thomas Gibbons guilty, but he felt this was unconstitutional so he took his case to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court reversed the ruling and allowed Gibbons to have his business.

Constitutional Significance: This case has significance because the ruling provided by the state of New York is, in fact, un-Constitutional. In Article I, Section VIII it states that "Congress has the power to regulate commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian Tribes." New Yorks monopoly violated and interfered with Congress' power to regulate commerce among the states. This ruling kept states from deciding who could have business and who could trade with states. The Supreme Court's decision to over rule the decision made by New York was unanimous.

Decision/Precedent Set by this case: This decision set the precedent of states not being able to control commerce. Although states do have some powers, when it comes to trade and commerce, Congress is supreme and has the ultimate rule. This ruling also started to break up a lot of monopolies that were created because more and more people saw that it was unconstitutional.

Important Concepts Related to this case: The most important concept related to this case is that Congress has the power to regulate trade among the different states, no matter what the state ruling is.


Thomas Gibbons
Thomas Gibbons
Aaron Ogden
Aaron Ogden