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navigation, commerce, dormant commerce clause, Blackbird Creek, Blackbird Creek Marsh Company, New Castle County, takings, dam, bank


In 1822, Delaware authorized the Blackbird Creek Marsh Company to bank and drain the Blackbird Creek in New Castle County. Subsequently, Thompson Wilson and others destroyed the structure built by the marsh company. The marsh company subsequently sued Mr. Wilson for the damage to its property. The parties eventually appealed their dispute to the Supreme Court of the United States. The Court held that Delaware’s authorization to bank and dam the creek did not conflict with the federal government’s exclusive authority to regulate commerce between the several states. Ultimately, the Court decided Willson in a manner inconsistent with its earlier decision in Gibbons v. Ogden and subsequent decisions regarding navigation of U.S. waters. Additionally, Mr. Wilson likely chose not to bring a Fifth Amendment takings claim due to the lack of legal support for such a claim at the time.


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