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Great Falls Manufacturing Company, Great Falls, Conn’s Island, Potomac River, Benjamin Butler, aqueduct, dam, condemnation, taking, arbitration


The Great Falls Manufacturing Company owned extensive land and water rights at the Great Falls on the Potomac River at the time the United States decided to use the Great Falls as a water supply to the new capital in the City of Washington. In order to use its power of eminent domain, the federal government passed two Acts between 1858 and 1888. During that time, the United States and the Great Falls Manufacturing Company pursued 30 years of litigation to argue the just compensation that was due for the property taken at Great Falls. The 30 years ended in 1888 when the Supreme Court decided that it would not decide whether the second Congressional Act was unconstitutional since the company had waived that right. While the reasoning of this Supreme Court decision was slightly questionable, the potential effect on future takings victims were extreme.


Law | Legal History | Property Law and Real Estate