More from the Corfield Notes

I’ve been studying a different part of Justice Washington’s notes on Corfield v. Coryell–the part on the Commerce Clause issue in the case. Washington’s starts out his entry with: “Governor Wolcott’s reasons against the Connecticut bill. The Constitution of the United States vests in Congress the right to regulate commerce among the states. This right is necessarily exclusive.” Who is Governor Wolcott, and what Connecticut bill is he talking about?

Some research reveals that Oliver Wolcott Jr. was the Governor of Connecticut and that he vetoed a bill that would have created a local steamboat monopoly like the one from New York that was struck down in Gibbons v. Ogden. Wolcott’s veto was apparently considered a well-reasoned analysis of the problem and I am endeavoring to find the text. It seems as if his argument was that states could only pass commercial laws that furthered the aims of Congress. (That isn’t the same as reading the power as exclusive, but perhaps there is some nuance I’m missing.) Anyway, more to come.

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1 Response

  1. Joe says:

    The name “Oliver Wolcott Jr. ” vaguely sounded familiar & see he was an early Federalist politician that pops up various places [see, e.g., Wikipedia entry]. One summary of materials involving his office includes this curious bit:

    “March 30, 1824 letter from James Hillhouse, New Haven, to Governor Oliver Wolcott, Jr., requesting that he send
    to the Governor of New York a requisition for the extradition of Brockhurst Livingston, accused of trying to blow up
    the Yale College Chapel. ”

    https://ctstatelibrary.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Antebellum.pdf

    There was a Justice Henry Brockholst Livingston. Don’t know if there is any connection.