Most of the cases I studied in law school reside in the cobwebs of my memory like dusty books on a long forgotten shelf. Gibbons v. Ogden, however, is not one of them. The landmark Supreme Court decision striking down state laws that restrict trade among the states remains eerily fresh. Little did I know that Cornelius Vanderbilt played a major role in the events that led to that 1824 decision. Thomas Gibbons needed a captain for his steamboats running between New York and Brunswick, N.J. Vanderbilt, a tall, gruff, muscular sailor with experience in those waters, filled the bill. Despite earning $3,000 a year from his own sailing vessels, Vanderbilt knew the future lay with steamships. He sold his boats and went to work for Gibbons. There was one small problem: the New York State Legislature had given a monopoly on steamboat navigation in New York waters to Robert Fulton and Robert Livingston and threatened to confiscate any ships violating the law. Vanderbilt ignored the law and steamed into various piers in New York, always a step ahead of the authorities. Aaron Ogden, Livingston's successor, sued Gibbons. Gibbons retained the greatest lawyer of the time, Daniel Webster, who argued that the power to regulate commerce was the exclusive province of the Constitution. Supreme Court Chief Justice Marshall agreed: “The acts of the Legislature of the State of New York, granting to Robert R. Livingston and Robert Fulton the exclusive navigation of all the waters within the jurisdiction of that State, with boats moved by fire or steam, for a term of years, are repugnant to that clause of the constitution of the United States, which authorizes Congress to regulate commerce. . .?