New Jersey Disputes over Control of Streams and Creeks (Watercourses) and Other Disputes over Economic Interests

Nineteenth Century

Note: conflicts over the use of rivers and creeks (watercourses) by adjacent landowners (two farmers, a farmer and a mill owner, two mill owners) were among the most common ways in which economic development became a judicial problem in the early nineteenth century.

Merritt v. Parker (1795) -- an early and precedent setting dispute between a landowner and a dam builder.
Shields v. Arndt (1842) - two private parties dispute control of watercourse.
Holsman v. Boiling Spring (1862) -- protection of private right to enjoy from developer.
Morris Canal and Banking Company v. Martin John Ryerson (1859) -- nuisance suit over a dam; majority opinion and dissent.
Delaware and Raritan Canal and Camden and Amboy Railroad...v. The Camden and Atlantic Railroad Company.... (1863) -- the New Jersey equivalent of the Charles River Bridge case.

Note on further reading in this area:

William J. Novak, The People's Welfare: Law & Regulation in Nineteenth-Century America (Chapel Hill: Univ. of North Carolina Press, 1996) -- Novak argues that the "state" in the 19th century took a much more active rolew in regulsating private life and providing for the public welfare than others have suggested..  His strongest chapters are on the regulation of morality (Chapter 5) and public health (Chapter 6).  In both of these, he is concerned with both local and state regulation, and with court decisions that enforced (or, occasionally, overturned) that regulation. For New Jersey material, the reader should see footnote 113 in chapter 6 (found in the endnotes on pages 337-8).

Morton H. Horwitz, The Transformation of American Law, 1780-1860 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1977).  -- Horwitz is concerned with the ways courts transformed the English common law tradition to promote economic development.  Chapter 2, "The Transformation in the Conception of Property," deals directly with appellate court decisions concerning watercourses.

Stanley I. Kutler, Privilege and Creative Destruction: The Charles River Bridge Case (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott, 1971). Kutler's defense of Chief Justice Taney's role in reshaping constitutional doctrine to support economic development and public welfare.