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Baltimore, Maryland, real Estate law, Sherman Antitrust Act, water rights, sewers


Politically, Garitee v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore was part of the larger on-going debate on the role of government. During the Gilded Age, the Federal Government assumed a laissez-faire stance toward business, but the Progressive Era that immediately followed witnessed a restraint of business through the passage of the Sherman Antitrust Act and the trust-busting administration of President Theodore Roosevelt.

State and city government produced the same debate, but in a somewhat different fashion. Baltimore’s government expanded in the 1870’s with the creation of City Hall, the City Library, the harbor board and several other municipal services. The health commissioners alone hired as many as six hundred city employees after a single snowstorm. The expansion of government brought about an era of economic liberalism under the Democratic mayoral administration of Joshua Vansant. Subsequent administrations were forced to curtail spending and restrict the expansion of government, bringing an economic depression to the city. William L. Garitee found himself caught in the middle of this debate. As a businessman, it would seem as if Garitee would hail the city’s expansion; however, he seemed to endure the negative effects of the growth, including hosting a dumping ground for the city. His lawsuit, thus, became a microcosm of the power struggle between the objectives of the government and the individual businessman. Overall, Garitee v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore challenged the role of and established limits on the powers of local government.


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