Osborne v. Mobile
83 U.S. 479 (1872)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Osborne v. Mobile, 83 U.S. 16 Wall. 479 479 (1872)

Osborne v. Mobile

83 U.S. (16 Wall.) 479

Syllabus

The State of Georgia chartered a company to transact a general forwarding and express business. The company had a business office at Mobile, in Alabama, and there did an express business which extended within and beyond the limits of Alabama, or rather there made contracts for transportation of that sort.

An ordinance of the City of Mobile was then in force requiring that every express company or railroad company doing business in that city and having a business extending beyond the limits of the state should pay an annual license of $500, which should be deemed a first-grade license; that every express or railroad company doing business within the limits of the state should take out a license called a second-grade license and pay therefor $100; and that every such company doing business within the city should take out a third-grade license, paying therefor $50. And it subjected any person or incorporated company who should violate any of its provisions to a fine not exceeding $50 for each day of such violation.

Held that the ordinance, in requiring payment for a license to transact in Mobile a business extending beyond the limits of the State of Alabama, was not repugnant to the provision of the Constitution, vesting in the Congress of the United States the power "to regulate commerce among the several states."

Osborne was the agent, at Mobile, Alabama, of the Southern

Page 83 U. S. 480

Express Company, incorporated by the State of Georgia, and as such transacted a general forwarding and express business within and extending beyond the limits of Alabama.

An ordinance of the City of Mobile was then in force, requiring that every express company or railroad company doing business in that city and having a business extending beyond the limits of the state should pay an annual license of $500, which should be deemed a first-grade license; that every express or railroad company doing business within the limits of the state should take out a license called a second-grade license, and pay therefor $100; and that every such company doing business within the city should take out a third-grade license, paying therefor $50. It subjected any person or incorporated company who should violate any of its provisions to a fine not exceeding $50 for each day of such violation.

On the 10th of February, 1869, Osborne was fined by the Mayor of Mobile for violating that ordinance in conducting the business of his agency without having paid the $500 and obtained the license required. He appealed to the circuit court of the state, which affirmed the judgment of the mayor. He then appealed to the Supreme Court of Alabama, and that court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court. A writ of error brought the case here.

The question was whether the ordinance, in requiring payment for a license to transact in Mobile a business extending beyond the limits of the State of Alabama, was repugnant to the provision of the Constitution vesting in the Congress of the United States the power "to regulate commerce among the several states."

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