Odgen V Gibbons (1824) Essay

2052 words - 8 pages

During the eighteen hundreds how did the simple transportation device of steamboats affect the political makeup in the United States government? Throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries the use of steamboats grew heavily throughout the nation of the United States, as well as world wide. During this time the United States was in desperate need of a new sufficient source of transportation, the steamboat allowed a large expansion of the growing nation, through its many natural waterways, as well as man made canals that were soon constructed. Serving as a great tool for businesses and the development of the United States economically and socially, these vessels also contributed to the evolution of the government and its politics. Becoming one of the fastest sources of transportation, the economical competition to control such a gold mine at the time was very high; and with such conflicts it is not unexpected that the issue of steamboat operations reached the powers of the Supreme Court. Here the controversial issues of a monopolistic power existing in the New York state region brought up turmoil, in the conflict between state licenses such as the one issued to the Fulton Company and federal licenses, which were to be resolved in the Supreme Court case of Odgen v Gibbons (1824). The issue of the constitutionality of the decision of the court as well as the ability of the steamboat to influence the politics of the United States in this era will be addressed. In order to properly observe the influences upon the politics at the time, the Supreme Court case as well as safety issues will be assessed and looked at.

The steam powered sailing vessel was originally created in the early seventeen hundreds, by a French man named Denis Papin. Yet his inventions were no where close to efficient and needed many mandatory modifications that came over time, with the aid of James Watt and Robert Fulton. It is believed by many people that Robert Fulton was the first to invent the steamboat, although he was truly the one to create the first competent vessel, designed and created well enough to make decent voyages, including fighting currents. In the oncoming future, there were still plenty of modifications to be made, but Fulton along with Robert R. Livingston brought their new steam ship plans to the United States from France; after Livingston obtained a New York state steam boat monopoly, in hope to control the water ways of one of the largest ports of the time. In 1798 Livingston received this monopoly allowing him the exclusive ability of "navigating all boats that might be propelled by steam, on all waters within the territory, or jurisdiction of the State, for the term of twenty years." Not only did this act give Fulton and Livingston the complete control of navigating the waters of New York State but the ability to also seize any other vessel operated by others with out the license that only these two men could distribute as well as the...

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