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SECTION 2. WHAT IS FOREIGN AND INTERSTATE COMMERCE.
THE DANIEL BALL.
SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES. 1871.
Appeal from the Circuit Court for the Western District of Michigan.
[By an act of Congress passed in 1838, 5 Stat. 304, amended in 1852, 10 Stat. 61, it was provided that steam vessels engaged in transporting passengers or merchandise upon "the bays, lakes, rivers, or other navigable waters of the United States" should be licensed and inspected. In 1868, the Daniel Ball, a steam vessel which had not been so licensed or inspected, was navigating the Grand River between the cities of Grand Rapids and Grand Haven, both in the State of Michigan. It was carrying goods coming from or going to points outside of Michigan, but was not operating in connection with any railway or steamship line although at both Grand Haven and Grand Rapids there were railways or steamship lines which were engaged in interstate traffic. A libel filed against the vessel for operating without Federal license or inspection having been dismissed by the District Court, the Circuit Court reversed the decision. The owner of the vessel appealed.]
MR. JUSTICE FIELD . . delivered the opinion of the
Two questions are presented in this case for our determination. First: Whether the steamer was at the time designated in the libel engaged in transporting merchandise and passengers on a navigable water of the United States within the meaning of the acts of Congress; and,
Second: Whether those acts are applicable to a steamer engaged as a common carrier between places in the same State, when a portion of the merchandise transported by her is destined to places in other States, or comes from places without the State, she not running in connection with or in continuation of any line of steamers or other vessels, or any railway line leading to or from another State.
Upon the first of these questions we entertain no doubt. The doctrine of the common law as to the navigability of waters has no application in this country. Here the ebb and flow of
the tide do not constitute the usual test, as in England, or any test at all of the navigability of waters. . Those rivers
must be regarded as public navigable rivers in law which are navigable in fact. And they are navigable in fact when they are used, or are susceptible of being used, in their ordinary condition, as highways for commerce, over which trade and travel are or may be conducted in the customary modes of trade and travel on water. And they constitute navigable waters of the United States within the meaning of the acts of Congress, in contradistinction from the navigable waters of the States, when they form in their ordinary condition by themselves, or by uniting with other waters, a continued highway over which commerce is or may be carried on with other States or foreign countries in the customary modes in which such commerce is conducted by water.
If we apply this test to Grand River, the conclusion follows that it must be regarded as a navigable water of the United States. From the conceded facts in the case the stream is capable of bearing a steamer of one hundred and twenty-three tons burden, laden with merchandise and passengers, as far as Grand Rapids, a distance of forty miles from its mouth in Lake Michigan. And by its junction with the lake it forms a continued highway for commerce, both with other States and with foreign countries, and is thus brought under the direct control of Congress in the exercise of its commercial power.
That power authorizes all appropriate legislation for the protection or advancement of either interstate or foreign commerce, and for that purpose such legislation as will insure the convenient and safe navigation of all the navigable waters of the United States, whether that legislation consists in requiring the removal of obstructions to their use, in prescribing the form and size of the vessels employed upon them, or in subjecting the vessels to inspection and license, in order to insure their proper construction and equipment. "The power to regulate commerce, "this court said in Gilman v. Philadelphia, 3 Wallace, 724, "comprehends the control for that purpose, and to the extent necessary, of all navigable waters of the United States which are accessible from a State other than those in which they lie. For this purpose they are the public property of the nation, and subject to all the requisite legislation of Congress."
But it is contended that the steamer Daniel Ball was only
engaged in the internal commerce of the State of Michigan, and was not, therefore, required to be inspected or licensed, even if it be conceded that Grand River is a navigable water of the United States; and this brings us to the consideration of the second question presented.
There is undoubtedly an internal commerce which is subject to the control of the States. The power delegated to Congress is limited to commerce "among the several States," with foreign nations, and with the Indian tribes. This limitation necessarily excludes from Federal control all commerce not thus designated, and of course that commerce which is carried on entirely within the limits of a State, and does not extend to or affect other States. Gibbons v. Ogden, 9 Wheaton, 194, 195. In this case it is admitted that the steamer was engaged in shipping and transporting down Grand River, goods destined and marked for other States than Michigan, and in receiving and transporting up the river goods brought within the State from without its limits; but inasmuch as her agency in the transportation was entirely within the limits of the State, and she did not run in connection with, or in continuation of, any line of vessels or railway leading to other States, it is contended that she was engaged entirely in domestic commerce. But this conclusion does not follow. So far as she was employed in transporting goods destined for other States, or goods brought from without the limits of Michigan and destined to places within that State, she was engaged in commerce between the States, and however limited that commerce may have been, she was, so far as it went, subject to the legislation of Congress. She was employed as an instrument of that commerce; for whenever a commodity has begun to move as an article of trade from one State to another, commerce in that commodity between the States has commenced. The fact that several different and independent agencies are employed in transporting the commodity, some acting entirely in one State, and some acting through two or more States, does in no respect affect the character of the transaction. To the extent in which each agency acts in that transportation, it is subject to the regulation of Congress.
It is said that if the position here asserted be sustained, there is no such thing as the domestic trade of a State; that Congress may take the entire control of the commerce of the country, and extend its regulations to the railroads within a
State on which grain or fruit is transported to a distant market.
We answer that the present case relates to transportation on the navigable waters of the United States, and we are not called upon to express an opinion upon the power of Congress over interstate commerce when carried on by land transportation. And we answer further, that we are unable to draw any clear and distinct line between the authority of Congress to regulate an agency employed in commerce between the States, when that agency extends through two or more states, and when it is confined in its action entirely within the limits of a single State. If its authority does not extend to an agency in such commerce, when that agency is confined within the limits of a State, its entire authority over interstate commerce may be defeated. Several agencies combining, each taking up the commodity transported at the boundary line at one end of a State, and leaving it at the boundary line at the other end, the Federal jurisdiction would be entirely ousted, and the constitutional provision would become a dead letter.
LORD v. STEAMSHIP COMPANY.
SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES. 1881.
Error to the Circuit Court of the United States for the District of California.
[Section 4283 of the United States Revised Statutes provided that the liability of the owner of any vessel for any loss of goods shipped thereon or for any collision or damage incurred without the privity or knowledge of the owner should not exceed the interest of the owner in the vessel and the freight then pending. The steamship Ventura employed in navigation between San Francisco and San Diego, both in California, was totally lost with all her freight and cargo. In a suit against her owner as a common carrier to recover the value of the goods lost, the owner pleaded exemption under the above statute. The court charged that if the loss occurred solely through the negligence of the master and without the privity knowledge or
neglect of the owner, the latter was exonerated by the statute even though the goods were being transported between two points in California. Judgment was given for the defendant and a writ of error was sued out.]
The single question presented by the assignment of errors is, whether Congress has power to regulate the liability of the owners of vessels navigating the high seas, but engaged only in the transportation of goods and passengers between ports and places in the same State. It is conceded that while the Ventura carried goods from place to place in California, her voyages were always ocean voyages.
Congress has power "to regulate commerce with foreign nations and among the several States, and with the Indian tribes" (Const., art. 1, § 8), but it has nothing to do with the purely internal commerce of the States, that is to say, with such commerce as is carried on between different parts of the same State, if its operations are confined exclusively to the jurisdiction and territory of that State, and do not affect other nations or States or the Indian tribes. This has never been disputed since the case of Gibbons v. Ogden, 9 Wheat. 1. The contracts sued on in the present case were in effect to carry goods from San Francisco to San Diego by the way of the Pacific Ocean. They could not be performed except by going not only out of California, but out of the United States as well.
Commerce includes intercourse, navigation, and not traffic alone. This also was settled in Gibbons v. Ogden, supra. "Commerce with foreign nations," says Mr. Justice Daniel, for the court, in Veazie v. Moor, 14 How. 568, "must signify commerce which, in some sense, is necessarily connected with these nations, transactions which either immediately or at some stage of their progress must be extraterritorial."
The Pacific Ocean belongs to no one nation, but is the common property of all. When, therefore, the Ventura went out from San Francisco or San Diego on her several voyages, she entered on a navigation which was necessarily connected with other nations. While on the ocean her national character only was recognized, and she was subject to such laws as the commercial nations of the world had, by usage or otherwise, agreed on for the government of the vehicles of commerce occupying this common property of all mankind. She was navigating