Willson v. Black-Bird Creek Marsh Co.

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Willson v. Black-Bird Creek Marsh Co., 27 U.S. 245 (1829)

Facts: The state had permitted a private party to build a dam across a small, navigable creek (on which Congress had not acted), and Wilson, whose vessel was licensed under federal law, broke the dam.

Issue: May the state allow the private party to build the dam?

Holding: Yes, Congress had not yet enacted legislation dealing specifically with that waterway. The state law was intended to preserve property values and protect the public health, and was therefore a permissible exercise of state police power.