Dartmouth College Case

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Dartmouth College Case,

decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1819. The legislature of New Hampshire, in 1816, without the consent of the college trustees, amended the charter of 1769 to make Dartmouth College public. The trustees brought suit. Daniel Webster argued successfully that the amendment violated the Constitution because the state had impaired "the obligation of a contract." The opinion of the court, delivered by Chief Justice John Marshall, was that a charter was in effect inviolable. The decision made the contract clause of the Constitution a powerful instrument for the judicial protection of property rights against state abridgment. In 1837, Chief Justice TaneyTaney, Roger Brooke
, 1777–1864, American jurist, 5th chief justice of the United States (1836–64), b. Calvert co., Md., grad. Dickinson College, 1795. Early Life

Taney was born of a wealthy slave-owning family of tobacco farmers.
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, while not challenging the basic principle, ruled in the Charles River Bridge CaseCharles River Bridge Case,
decided in 1837 by the U.S. Supreme Court. The Charles River Bridge Company had been granted (1785) a charter by the state of Massachusetts to operate a toll bridge.
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 that a legislative charter must be construed narrowly and a corporation could claim no implied rights beyond the specific terms of a grant.
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References in periodicals archive ?
"A corporation is an artificial being, invisible, intangible, and existing only in contemplation of law." (Trustees of Dartmouth College v. Woodward, 1819, quoted by Justice Rehnquist, dissenting)
McGarvie discusses how the Supreme Court's decision in Trustees of Dartmouth College v. Woodward, 17 US (4 Wheat) 518, 522 (1819), utilized the Constitution's contract clause to provide the legal basis for separation of church and state.

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