U.S. Supreme Court

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    U.S. Supreme Court cases

  • Chisholm v. GA

    In 1777, Captain Robert Farquhar, a merchant of South Carolina, sold clothing to the colony of Georgia valued at $169,613.33. Shortly afterwards, Farquhar (a Loyalist) returned to England where he died in 1784. Georgia, like many other colonies during the American Revolution, passed a law "sequestering" or freezing debts owed to Loyalists. The executor of Farquhar's estate, Alexander Chisholm, argued that Georgia should pay since the contract had been agreed upon prior to the sequestering act. G
  • GA v. Brailsford

    Samuel Brailsford, a British subject and Loyalist during the American Revolution, had won a lower court judgment to recover property owned him by a Georgia citizen. After the Revolutionary War, Georgia passed a law permitting the confiscation of Loyalist property, which included debts owed to them. Georgia asked the Court to stop the recovery of what amounted to confiscated property. Justice James Iredell, in his capacity as circuit judge, denied Georgia's claim; the Court ruled that the federal
  • Fletcher v. Peck

    Following the American Revolution, Georgia claimed 35 million acres of land along the Yazoo River (most of modern Mississippi and Alabama.) On January 7, 1795, the Georgia legislature granted large tracts of Yazoo land to four land companies, including the Georgia Land Company, for the low price of 1 ½ cents per acre. Georgia voters were outraged when they learned that the land speculators had bribed all but one member of the legislature.
  • U.S. v. Hudson/Goodwin

    On May 7, 1806, the Connecticut Currant published allegations by Barzillai Hudson and George Goodwin that President Jefferson and the Congress had secretly voted $2,000,000 to bribe Napoleon Bonaparte so the United States could make a treaty with Spain. The co-defendants were indicted in federal Circuit Court of Connecticut for common law "seditious libel". The Circuit Court was divided on whether it had common law jurisdiction in the case, so it went to the Supreme Court to resolve the issue.
  • Dartmouth College v. Woodward

    On December 13, 1769, Dartmouth College of Hanover, New Hampshire received its royal charter to educate the "youth of the Indian tribes in this land ... and also English youth and any other" young men in the colony. On June 27, 1816, the New Hampshire state legislature, dominated by Democratic-Republicans, changed Dartmouth's charter without the consent of the college.
  • Martin v. Mott

    During the War of 1812, President James Madison called on state militias to join with federal troops to fight in the nation's defense against the invading British. Daniel Tompkins, the governor of New York, obeyed Madison's order, calling up a number of militia companies under the federal Militia Act of 1792 and the Act for Calling Forth the Militia of 1795. Jacob E. Mott, a private in one of the companies, refused, was court-martialed and fined $96.
  • Worcester v. Ga

    In 1830, the state legislature of Georgia passed an act requiring white residents living in Cherokee territory after March 31, 1831 to swear allegiance to Georgia and be licensed. The measure was directed against white missionaries who were helping the Cherokee. A group of ministers from the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions lived in New Echota, Cherokee Nation, which was claimed by Georgia as part of Gwinnett County.
  • Prigg v. PA

    Margaret Morgan, the slave of Margaret Ashmore of Maryland, escaped to Pennsylvania in 1832. Ashmore hired Edward Prigg and others to capture Morgan and return her to slavery. Five years later, Prigg located Morgan and obtained a warrant from the justice of the peace ordering the local constable to bring in Morgan and her four children, including one born in Pennsylvania. The local justice of the peace refused Prigg's request for a certificate of removal.
  • Scott v. Sandford

    Court dismissed Scott's suit for his freedom as an enslaved person who became free after having lived in the free soil state of Illinois and the free territory of what became the state of Minnessota. The Taney Court dismissed the case for lack of jurisdiction, but issued an explosively controversial opinion that addressed dramatically the issue of federal authority over slavery.
  • Minor v. Happersett

    Virginia Minor, a white married woman, attempted to register to vote in the national election for President and Vice-President. Reese Happersett, the state registrar of voters, turned Minor away on the grounds that Missouri law limited the vote to male citizens. What's more, the state denied married women the right to sue independently of their husbands.