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vided, that the grant might receive such alterations from time to time, by the general assembly, as experience should evince to be necessary or expedient. The charter, with these provisions, was accepted by the company; and the expenses thereby required were incurred, the works completed, and the bridge and causeway approved by the commissioners. The first bridge having been carried away by a flood, in 1818, the general assembly, by an act passed in May of that year, made provision for the erection of a new bridge and causeway, and directed suitable and necessary alterations to be made in the construction thereof, which alterations were such as, when made, to supersede the necessity of the ferry; and to carry out fairly the provisions of the original charter, and to provide an indemnity for, and reimbursement of, the increased expenditures imposed by the prescribed alterations, it was provided, that the ferry should be discontinued. To this act was annexed a proviso, that it might, at any time thereafter, be altered, amended or repealed, by the general assembly, in the same manner, as the original act incorporating said bridge company. On a bill in chancery, brought by the Bridge Company, against East Hartford, for an injunction restraining the defendants from the further use of the ferry, it was held, 1. that the act of 1818 was a contract between the state and the corporation, not only granting privileges, but imposing burdens, and requiring continuing
duties attended with expense; 2. that the corporation having accepted the charter and complied with its requirements, the rights and duties of both parties became fixed and vested, and the legislature had no constitutional power to impair this contract, without the assent of the corporation, unless by virtue of an authority for that purpose, reserved in the charter itself; 3. that the charter ought to be so construed as to carry out the great objects intended by it, which were, first, to make a great and necessary public improvement, at great expense, and secondly, to reimburse those who should venture their money in the undertaking; 4. that the charter constituted a public pledge, that until the expenses of the corporation, with the stipulated interest, should be reimbursed, the general assembly would not make any regulations or orders materially affecting the prescribed revenues of the corporation; 5. that the subsequent reservation of power in the same section of the charter, is not to be construed so as to defeat the declared purpose of the general assembly, to preserve the granted privileges of the corporation inviolate until after it should be fully compensated for its disbursements; but it was to such alterations in the prescribed structure of the bridge and causeway, and perhaps in the mode of supervision and management, as experience should evince to be necessary or expedient, that the legislature, in this clause, had reference; 6. that the acts of 1836 and 1842, pur
porting to revive the ferry, without reference to the reimbursement of the corporation, and before it had been made, were repugnant to the constitution of the United States, as impairing the obligation of the contract, and were therefore void; 7. that the defendants having invaded the franchise of the plaintiffs, and continuing such invasion, the relief sought by the bill ought to be granted. [One judge dissenting.]"
It was decided by the supreme court of New Hampshire, that a legislative grant of authority to construct and maintain a bridge, within certain limits, gave to the grantees a franchise; and that the legislature could not authorize the construction of another bridge, within the prescribed limits, without provision for compensation to the first grantees.2
A common mode of partially obstructing navigation, is the construction of bridges, by the authority of the legislature, over navigable water, a mode, which, without such authority, cannot be justified, even by the riparian owners. It may be, that but little use has been made of the water in question for
1 The Hartford Bridge Company v. East Hartford, 16 Conn. R. 150. 2 Piscataqua Bridge v. New Hampshire Bridge Co. 7 N. Hamp. R. 35. Any person crossing Cayuga lake in New York, on the ice, within three miles of Cayuga bridge, is liable to pay toll to the bridge company, as if he crossed the bridge. But if he does not enter on the ice within three miles of the bridge, he is not liable for toll, unless his course is intended as an evasion of the statute. Cayuga Bridge Co. v. Stout, 6 Wend. (N. Y.) 85
navigable purposes, and that probably no settlement or place of business will be established at its head, or on its banks, and that the public would even be vastly more accommodated by a bridge, than by the unobstructed passage of the water; but nevertheless, the water being navigable and for common use, the legislature alone can authorize the interruption of it. If it could be urged, that the actual use of navigable water for navigable purposes is necessary to give it the character of public property; that would go to allow the occupation by individuals of many of the most important public privileges, in the early settlement of the country, before ports and places of deposit had become valuable.'
It is however well settled, that acts of the legislature of a state, authorizing the construction of bridges over navigable and all waters within its limits, are not unconstitutional. And it has been held, that there is nothing in the constitution of the United States, authorizing Congress to regulate commerce, or in any act of that body, which militates, in any degree, with the power of granting an exclusive right of building a bridge within the territory of a
1 Commonwealth v. Charlestown, 1 Pick. (Mass.) R. 180; Inhabitants of Arundel v. McCulloch, 10 Mass. R. 70; Commonwealth v. Coombs, 2 Ib. 492; Cox v. The State, 3 Black. (Ind.) R. 193; Att. Gen. v. N. Jersey Railroad Trans. Co. 2 Green (N. J.) Ch. R. 130.
2 Commonwealth v. Breed, 4 Pick. (Mass.) R. 460; Dyer v. Tuscaloosa Bridge, 2 Port. (Ala.) R. 296. See ante, pp. 44, 60 – 65, 86, et seq.
state.' The legislature, however, in the exercise of this authority in the construction of bridges, have ever manifested a solicitous regard for the navigation of the water over which they are to be thrown; and have exercised vigilance in requiring that bridges authorized by them shall be provided with suitable draws to allow the passage of vessels. In some cases, the passage of vessels of a description which before had been accustomed to pass has been entirely prevented. But the legislature are to judge whether the public convenience in general will not be more promoted by these partial obstructions and interruptions to navigation, and also upon what terms and
1 Per Parker, J., in delivering the opinion of the supreme court of New Hampshire, in Piscataqua Bridge Co. v. N. Hamp. Bridge Co. 7 N. Hamp. R. 35. That the legislature has exercised authority for the construction and regulation of bridges over arms of the sea and other waters, see Charles River Bridge v. Warren Bridge, 7 Pick. (Mass.) R. 344; and S. C. 11 Peters (U. S.) R. 420; Commonwealth v. Charlestown, 1 Pick. (Mass.) R. 180; Same v. Coombs, 2 Mass. R. 489; Wales v. Stetson, Ib. 146; Arundel v. McCulloch, 10 Mass. R. 70; Commonwealth v. Breed, 4 Pick. (Mass.) R. 460; Hood v. Dighton Bridge, 3 Mass. R. 263; Case of Meason's Estate, 4 Watts (Penn.) R. 341; State v Franklin, 9 Conn. R. 32; Perry v. Hyde. 10 Ib. 329; Brunder v. Chesterfield Justices, 5 Call (Va.) R. 556; Piscataqua Bridge v. New Hampshire Bridge, 7 N. Hamp. R. 35; State v. Compton, 2 Ib. 513; Schoolbred v. Corporation, &c. 2 Bay (S. C.) R. 65 ; Thompson v. Androscoggin Bridge, 5 Greenl. (Me.) R. 62; Dyer v. Tuscaloosa Bridge, 2 Port. (Ala.) R. 296; Wooster v. Van Vetchen, 10 Johns. (N. Y.) R. 467; Cayuga v. Stout, 7 Cow. (N. Y.) R. 33; Same v. Magee, 6 Wend. (N. Y.) R. 85; Schuylkill Bridge v. Fraily, 13 S. & Rawle (Penn.) R. 422; Chambersburg, &c. Co. v. Commissioners, 6 Ib. 229.