October Term, 1876
MR. CHIEF JUSTICE WAITE delivered the opinion of the court.
MR. JUSTICE FIELD and MR. JUSTICE STRONG dissented.
1. Under the powers inherent in every sovereignty, a government may regulate the conduct of its citizens toward each other, and, when necessary for the public good, the manner in which each shall use his own property.
2. It has, in the exercise of these powers, been customary in England from time immemorial, and in this country from its first colonization, to regulate ferries, common carriers, hackmen, bakers, millers, wharfingers, innkeepers, & c., and, in so doing, to fix a maximum of charge to be made for services rendered, accommodations furnished, and articles sold.
3. Down to the time of the adoption of the fourteenth amendment of the Constitution of the United States, it was not supposed that statutes regulating the use, or even the price of the use, of private property necessarily deprived an owner of his property without due process of law. Under some circumstances they may, but not under all. The amendment does not change the law in this particular: it simply prevents the States from doing that which will operate as such deprivation.
4. When the owner of property devotes it to a use in which the public has an interest, he in effect grants to the public an interest in such use, and must to the extent of that interest, submit to be controlled by the public, for the common good, as long as he maintains the use. He may withdraw his grant by discontinuing the use.
5. Rights of property, and to a reasonable compensation for its use, created by the common law, cannot be taken away without due process; but the law itself, as a rule of conduct, may, unless constitutional limitations forbid, be changed at the will of the legislature. The great office of statutes is to remedy defects in the common law as they are developed, and to adapt it to the changes of time and circumstances.
6. The limitation by legislative enactment of the rate of charge for services rendered in a public employment, or for the use of property in which the public has an interest, establishes no new principle in the law, but only gives a new effect to an old one.
7. Where warehouses are situated and their business is carried on exclusively within a State, she may, as a matter of domestic concern, prescribe regulations for them, notwithstanding they are used as instruments by those engaged in interstate, as well as in State, commerce; and, until Congress acts in reference to their interstate relations, such regulations can be enforced, even though they may indirectly operate upon commerce beyond her immediate jurisdiction.
8. The court does not hold that a case may not arise in which it may be found that a State has, under the form of regulating her own affairs, encroached upon the exclusive domain of Congress in respect to interstate commerce.
9. The ninth section of the first article of the Constitution of the United States operates only as a limitation of the powers of Congress, and in no respect affects the States in the regulation of their domestic affairs.
10. The act of the general assembly of Illinois, entitled 'An Act to regulate public warehouses and the warehousing and inspection of grain, and to give effect to art. 13 of the Constitution of this State,' approved April 25, 1871, is not repugnant to the Constitution of the United States.
ERROR to the Supreme Court of the State of Illinois.
The Constitution of Illinois, adopted in 1870, contains the following in reference to the inspection of grain, and the storage thereof in public warehouses: 'ARTICLE XIII.WAREHOUSES.
'SECTION 1. All elevators or storehouses where grain or other property is stored for a compensation, whether the property stored be kept separate or not, are declared to be public warehouses.
'SECTION 2. The owner, lessee, or manager of each and every public warehouse situated in any town or city of not less than one hundred thousand inhabitants, shall make weekly statements under oath before some officer designated by law, and keep the same posted in some conspicuous place in the office of such warehouse; and shall also file a copy for public examination in such place as shall be designated by law, which statement shall correctly set forth the amount and grade of each and every kind of grain in such warehouse, together with such other property as may be stored therein, and what warehouse receipts have been issued, and are, at the time of making such statement, outstanding therefor; and shall, on the copy posted in the warehouse, note daily such changes as may be made in the quantity and grade of grain in such warehouse; and the different grades of grain shipped in separate lots shall not be mixed with inferior or superior grades, without the consent of the owner or consignor thereof.
'SECTION 3. The owners of property stored in any warehouse, or holder of a receipt for the same, shall always be at liberty to examine such property stored, and all the books and records of the warehouse in regard to such property. 'SECTION 4. All railroad companies, and other common carriers on railroads, shall weigh or measure grain at points where it is shipped, and receipt for the full amount, and shall be responsible for the delivery of such amount to the owner or consignee thereof, at the place of destination.
'SECTION 5. All railroad companies receiving and transporting grain, in bulk or otherwise, shall deliver the same to any consignee thereof, or any elevator or public warehouse to which it may be consigned, provided such consignee, or the elevator, or public warehouse, can be reached by any track owned, leased, or used, or which can be used, by such railroad company; and all railroad companies shall permit connections to be made with their tracks, so that any such consignee, and any public warehouse, coalbank, or coalyard may be reached by the cars on said railroad.
'SECTION 6. It shall be the duty of the general assembly to pass all necessary laws to prevent the issue of false and fraudulent warehouse receipts, and to give full effect to this article of the Constitution, which shall be liberally construed, so as to protect producers and shippers. And the enumeration of the remedies herein named shall not be construed to deny to the general assembly the power to prescribe by law such other and further remedies as may be found expedient, or to deprive any person of existing commonlaw remedies.
'SECTION 7. The general assembly shall pass laws for the inspection of grain, for the protection of producers, shippers, and receivers of grain and produce.'
The provisions of the act of the general assembly of Illinois, entitled 'An Act to regulate public warehouses and the warehousing and inspection of grain, and to give effect to art. 13 of the Constitution of this State,' approved April 25, 1871, so far as the same have any direct bearing upon the questions involved in this case, are as follows:
'SECTION 1. Be it enacted by the people of the State of Illinois, represented in the general assembly, that public warehouses, as defined in art. 13 of the Constitution of this State, shall be divided into three classes, to be designated as classes A, B, and C, respectively.
'SECTION 2. Public warehouses of class A shall embrace all warehouses, elevators, or granaries in which grain is stored in bulk, and in which the grain of different owners is mixed together, or in which grain is stored in such a manner that the identity of different lots or parcels cannot be accurately preserved, such warehouses, elevators, or granaries, being located in cities having not less than one hundred thousand inhabitants. Public warehouses of class B shall embrace all other warehouses, elevators, or granaries in which grain is stored in bulk, and in which the grain of different owners is mixed together. Public warehouses of class C shall embrace all other warehouses or places where property of any kind is stored for a consideration.
'SECTION 3. The proprietor, lessee, or manager of any public warehouse of class A shall be required, before transacting any business in such warehouse, to procure from the Circuit Court of the county a license, permitting such proprietor, lessee, or manager to transact business as a public warehouseman under the laws of this State, which license shall be issued by the clerk of said court upon a written application, which shall set forth the location and name of such warehouse, and the individual name of each person interested as owner or principal in the management of the same, or, if the warehouse be owned or managed by a corporation, the names of the president, secretary, and treasurer of such corporation shall be stated; and the license shall give authority to carry on and conduct the business of a public warehouse of class A in accordance with the laws of this State, and shall be revocable by the said court upon a summary proceeding before the court, upon complaint of any person in writing setting forth the particular violation of law, and upon satisfactory proof to be taken in such manner as may be directed by the court.
'SECTION 4. The person receiving a license as herein provided shall file, with the clerk of the court granting the same, a bond to the people of the State of Illinois, with good and sufficient surety, to be approved by said court, in the penal sum of $10,000, conditioned for the faithful performance of his duty as a public warehouseman of class A, and the full and unreserved compliance with all laws of this State in relation thereto.
'SECTION 5. Any person who shall transact the business of a public warehouse of class A without first procuring a license as herein provided, or who shall continue to transact any such business after such license has been revoked (save only that he may be permitted to deliver property previously stored in such warehouse), shall, on conviction, be fined in a sum not less than $100 for each and every day such business is so carried on; and the court may refuse to renew any license, or grant a new one to any of the persons whose license has been revoked, within one year from the time the same was revoked.'
'SECTION 15. Every warehouseman of public warehouses of class A shall be required, during the first week of January of each year, to publish in one or more of the newspapers (daily, if there be such) published in the city in which such warehouse is situated, a table or schedule of rates for the storage of grain in the warehouse during the ensuing year, which rates shall not be increased (except as provided for in sect. 16 of this act) during the year; and such published rates, or any published reduction of them, shall apply to all grain received into such warehouse from any person or source; and no discrimination shall be made, directly or indirectly, for or against any charges made by such warehouseman for the storage of grain. 'The maximum charge of storage and handling of grain, including the cost of receiving and delivering, shall be for the first thirty days or part thereof two cents per bushel, and for each fifteen days or part thereof, after the first thirty days, onehalf of one cent per bushel; provided, however, that grain damp or liable to early damage, as indicated by its inspection when received, may be subject to two cents per bushel storage for the first ten days, and for each additional five days or part thereof, not exceeding onehalf of one per cent per bushel.'
On the twentyninth day of June, 1872, an information was filed in the Criminal Court of Cook County, Ill., against Munn & Scott, alleging that they were, on the twentyeighth day of June, 1872, in the city of Chicago, in said county, the managers and lessees of a public warehouse, known as the 'North western Elevator,' in which they then and there stored grain in bulk, and mixed the grain of different owners together in said warehouse; that the warehouse was located in the city of Chicago, which contained more than one hundred thousand inhabitants; that they unlawfully transacted the business of public warehousemen, as aforesaid, without procuring a license from the Circuit Court of said county, permitting them to transact business as public warehousemen, under the laws of the State.
To this information a plea of not guilty was interposed.
From an agreed statement of facts, made of the record, it appears that Munn & Scott leased of the owner, in 1862, the ground occupied by the 'Northwestern Elevator,' and erected thereon the grain warehouse or elevator in that year, with their own capital and means; that they ever since carried on, in said elevator, the business of storing and handling grain for hire, for which they charged and received, as a compensation, the rates of storage which had been, from year to year, agreed upon and established by the different elevators and warehouses in the city of Chicago, and published in one or more newspapers printed in said city, in the month of January in each year, as the established rates for the year then next ensuing such publication. On the twentyeighth day of June, 1872, Munn & Scott were the managers and proprietors of the grain warehouse known as 'The Northwestern Elevator,' in Chicago, Ill., wherein grain of different owners was stored in bulk and mixed together; and they then and there carried on the business of receiving, storing, and delivering grain for hire, without having taken a license from the Circuit Court of Cook County, permitting them, as managers, to transact business as public warehousemen, and without having filed with the clerk of the Circuit Court a bond to the people of the State of Illinois, as required by sects. 3 and 4 of the act of April 25, 1871. The city of Chicago then, and for more than two years before, had more than one hundred thousand inhabitants. Munn & Scott had stored and mixed grain of different owners together, only by and with the express consent and permission of such owners, or of the consignee of such grain, they having agreed that the compensation should be the published rates of storage.
Munn & Scott had complied in all respects with said act, except in two particulars: first, that had not taken out a license, nor given a bond, as required by sects. 3 and 4; and, second, they had charged for storage and handling grain the rates established and published in January, 1872, which were higher than those fixed by sect. 15.
The defendants were found guilty, and fined $100.
The judgment of the Criminal Court of Cook County having been affirmed by the Supreme Court of the State, Munn & Scott sued out this writ, and assign for error:
1. Sects. 3, 4, 5, and 15 of the statute are unconstitutional and void.
2. Said sections are repugnant to the third clause of sect. 8 of art. 1, and the sixth clause of sect. 9, art. 1, of the Constitution of the United States, and to the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.
Mr. W. C. Goudy, with whom was Mr. John N. Jewett, for the plaintiffs in error.
The plaintiffs in error could not safely take a license and give a bond, as required by sects. 3 and 4 of the act, because they would thereby waive the right to question the validity of the act. Cooley on Const. Lim. 181; Baker v. Braman, 6 Hill, 511; Ferguson v. Landrum, 1 Bush (Ky.), 548; Home Ins. Co. v. Security Ins. Co., 23 Wis. 171.
1. The third, fourth, fifth, and fifteenth sections of the act, under which the plaintiffs in error were convicted and fined, are repugnant to the third clause, s 8, art. 1, of the Constitution of the United States, which confers upon Congress power to regulate commerce with foreign nations and among the several States. Ward v. Maryland, 12 Wall. 418; Case of the State Freight Tax, 15 id. 232; Gibbons v. Ogden, 9 Wheat. 1; Brown v. Maryland, 12 id. 419; Osborne v. Mobile, 16 Wall. 479; Woodruff v. Parham, 8 id. 123; Wilson v. Blackbird Creek Marsh Co., 2 Pet. 245; Gilman v. Philadelphia, 3 Wall. 713; License Cases, 5 How. 504; Bartemeyer v. Iowa, 18 Wall. 129; City of New York v. Miln, 11 Pet. 102.
2. These sections are also repugnant to the sixth clause of sect. 9, art. 1, of the Constitution, which ordains that no preference shall be given by any regulation of commerce or revenue to the ports of one State over those of another.
3. They are also repugnant to that part of the first section of art. 14 of the amendments to the Constitution of the United States which ordains that no State shall deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law, nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws: 5 Webster's Works, 487; Coke's Inst. 4650; Murray's Lessee v. Hoboken Land and Imp. Co., 18 How. 272; Hoke v. Henderson, 4 Dev. (N. C.) 15; Taylor v. Porter, 4 Hill, 146; Wynehamer v. People, 13 N. Y. 393; Cooley on Const. Lim. 351 et seq.; Pumpelly v. Green Bay Co., 13 Wall. 166; Sinnickson v. Johnson, 2 Harr. (N. J.) 129; Gardner v. Newburgh, 2 Johns. Ch. 162; also cases cited in note, 13 Wall. 179; Green v. Biddle, 8 Wheat. 1; Bronson v. Kinzie, 1 How. 311; Cooley on Const. Lim. 290; Walker v. Whitehead, 16 Wall. 314; Rowley v. Hooker, 21 Ind. 144; Ogden v. Saunders, 12 Wheat. 259; Willard v. Longstreet, 2 Doug. (Mich.) 172; Gantly's Lessee v. Ewing, 3 How. 707; and are not within the limits of the police power of the State: 4 Black. Com. 162; Bentham (Edin. ed.), part ix. 157; Cooley on Const. Lim. 572, 577; Thorpe v. I. & M. Railroad Co., 27 Vt. 149; Com. v. Alger, 7 Cush. 84; 2 Kent, Com. 340; People v. I. & M. Railroad Co., 9 Mich. 307; Lake View v. Rosehill Cem. Co., 6 Chicago Legal News, 120; Benson v. Mayor, 10 Barb. 245; Vanderbilt v. Adams, 7 Cow. (N. Y.) 449; Broom's Legal Maxims, 357.
They do not regulate the use of property for the future, but deprive the plaintiffs in error of property in existence, and used by them for years prior to the passage of the law. Wynehamer v. People, 13 N. Y. 378; Com. v. Alger, 7 Cush. (Mass.) 84; Bartemeyer v. Iowa, 18 Wall. 129.
The following authorities are directly in point against the exercise of such power: Cooley on Const. Lim. 393; Doe ex dem. Gaines v. Buford, 1 Dana (Ky.), 490; Webb v. Baird, 6 Ind. 17; and the examples of legislation in regard to usury, ferries, mills, hackmen, &c., are not precedents justifying it: 7 Bac. Abr. 188 (ed. 1807); Angell on Highways, ss 47, 48; Birset v. Hart, Willes, 508; Mills v. County of St Clair, Mills v. County of St Clair, 23 Ill. 369; 15 Vin. Abr. 398; Hix v. Gardner, Bulst. 195.
The sections in question are repugnant to the provision of the Fourteenth Amendment, that no State shall deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. Cooley on Const. Lim. 391; Walley's Heirs v. Keenedy, 2 Yerg. (Tenn.) 554.
The provisions of the Constitution of Illinois in regard to warehouses do not affect the questions. Railroad Company v. McClure, 10 Wall. 511; Home of the Friendless v. Rouse, 8 id. 430; The Washington University v. Rouse, id. 439.
Mr. James K. Edsall, AttorneyGeneral of Illinois, contra.
1. The statute is not a regulation of commerce within the purview of the Constitution. Woodruff v. Parham, 8 Wall. 123; Hinson v. Lott, id 148; Osborne v. Mobile, 16 id. 479; Nathan v. Louisiana, 8 How. 73; People v. Saratoga & Rens. Railroad Co., 15 Wend. 135; Gibbons v. Ogden, 9 Wheat. 1; SlaughterHouse Cases, 16 Wall. 36; Gilman v. Philadelphia, 3 id. 713; City of New York v. Miln, 11 Pet. 102; Crandall v. State of Nevada, 6 Wall. 35; Brown v. Maryland, 12 Wheat. 419; License Cases, 5 How. 504.
2. If the statute is in any sense a regulation of interstate commerce, it belongs to that class of powers which may be exercised by the State in the absence of conflicting congressional legislation. Cooley v. Board of Wardens of the Port of Philadelphia, 12 How. 299; Gilman v. Philadelphia, supra; Wilson v. Blackbird Creek Marsh Co., 2 Pet. 245; Crandall v. State of Nevada, supra; License Cases, supra.
3. The statute is not repugnant to that clause of the Constitution which prohibits giving a 'preference to the ports of one State over those of another.' That clause imposes a limitation only upon the powers of Congress.
4. The statute does not deprive persons of their property without due process of law. Cooley on Const. Lim. 541; SlaughterHouse Cases, supra; Sharpless v. Mayor of Philadelphia, 27 Pa. St. 166; Grant v. Courter, 24 Barb. (N. Y.) 232; Commonwealth v. Tewksbury, 11 Met. 55; Commonwealth v. Alger, 7 Cush. (Mass.) 84; Met. Board of Police v. Barrett, 34 N. Y. 667; Bartemeyer v. Iowa, 18 Wall. 133.
5. Warehousemen for the storage of grain in the manner the business is conducted at Chicago are engaged in a public employment, as distinguished from ordinary business pursuits. In this regard they occupy a position similar to common carriers, who are held to 'exercise a sort of public office,' and have public duties to perform. N. J. Steam Nav. Co. v. Merchants' Bank, 6 How. 344; Sanford v. Railroad Company, 24 Penn. St. 381; Coggs v. Bernard, 2 Ld. Raym. 909; C. & N. W. Railroad Co. v. The People, 56 Ill. 377.
Like common carriers, they are required by law to receive grain from all persons, and store the same upon equal terms and conditions. Rev. Stat. of Ill. (of 1874), p. 821, s 101; Ross v. Johnson, 5 Burr. 2827; Low v. Martin, 18 Ill. 288; Steinman v. Wilkins, 7 Watts & S. (Pa.) 466, 468.
Although the ownership of the property is private, the use may be public in a strict, legal sense; hence, in adjudicated cases, the terms 'public wharves,' 'public roads,' 'public houses,' and 'public warehouses,' are of frequent occurrence, although the property may be the subject of private ownership. Dutton v. Strong, 1 Black, 32; Ives v. Hartley, 51 Ill. 523; Olcott v. The Supervisors, 16 Wall. 678.
6. Whenever any person pursues a public calling, and sustains such relations to the public that the people must of necessity deal with him, and are under a moral duress to submit to his terms if he is unrestrained by law, then, in order to prevent extortion and an abuse of his position, the price he may charge for his services may be regulated by law. Commonwealth v. Duane, 98 Mass. 1; State v. Perry, 5 Jones (N. C.) L. 252; State v. Nixon, id. 258; Bac. Abr. tit. 'Carriers,' D.; Murray's Lessee et al. v. Hoboken Land and Imp. Co., 18 How. 272; Kirkham v. Shawcrass, 6 T. R. 17; 2 Peake N. P. C. 185; 10 M. & W. 415; Ogden v. Saunders, 12 Wheat. 259; Mills v. County Commissioners, 4 Ill. 53; Trustees of Schools v. Tatman, 13 id. 37.
If grain warehousemen in Chicago 'pursue a public employment,' or 'exercise a sort of public office,' and sustain such relations to the public that all the grain consigned to 'the greatest grain market in the world' must necessarily pass through their hands, the State of Illinois, in virtue of its unquestionable power to regulate its internal commerce, may enact laws prescribing maximum rates of storage. The storage of grain offered for sale in the markets of a State most clearly pertains to its internal or domestic commerce.
MR. CHIEF JUSTICE WAITE delivered the opinion of the court.
The question to be determined in this case is whether the general assembly of Illinois can, under the limitations upon the legislative power of the States imposed by the Constitution of the United States, fix by law the maximum of charges for the storage of grain in warehouses at Chicago and other places in the State having not less than one hundred thousand inhabitants, 'in which grain is stored in bulk, and in which the grain of different owners is mixed together, or in which grain is stored in such a manner that the identity of different lots or parcels cannot be accurately preserved.'
It is claimed that such a law is repugnant
1. To that part of sect. 8, art. 1, of the Constitution of the United States which confers upon Congress the power 'to regulate commerce with foreign nations and among the several States;'
2. To that part of sect. 9 of the same article which provides that 'no preference shall be given by any regulation of commerce or revenue to the ports of one State over those of another;' and
3. To that part of amendment 14 which ordains that no State shall 'deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law, nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.'
We will consider the last of these objections first.
Every statute is presumed to be constitutional. The courts ought not to declare one to be unconstitutional, unless it is clearly so. If there is doubt, the expressed will of the legislature should be sustained.
The Constitution contains no definition of the word 'deprive,' as used in the Fourteenth Amendment. To determine its signification, therefore, it is necessary to ascertain the effect which usage has given it, when employed in the same or a like connection.
While this provision of the amendment is new in the Constitution of the United States, as a limitation upon the powers of the States, it is old as a principle of civilized government. It is found in Magna Charta, and, in substance if not in form, in nearly or quite all the constitutions that have been from time to time adopted by the several States of the Union. By the Fifth Amendment, it was introduced into the Constitution of the United States as a limitation upon the powers of the national government, and by the Fourteenth, as a guaranty against any encroachment upon an acknowledged right of citizenship by the legislatures of the States.
When the people of the United Colonies separated from Great Britain, they changed the form, but not the substance, of their government. They retained for the purposes of government all the powers of the British Parliament, and through their State constitutions, or other forms of social compact, undertook to give practical effect to such as they deemed necessary for the common good and the security of life and property. All the powers which they retained they committed to their respective States, unless in express terms or by implication reserved to themselves. Subsequently, when it was found necessary to establish a national government for national purposes, a part of the powers of the States and of the people of the States was granted to the United States and the people of the United States. This grant operated as a further limitation upon the powers of the States, so that now the governments of the States possess all the powers of the Parliament of England, except such as have been delegated to the United States or reserved by the people. The reservations by the people are shown in the prohibitions of the constitutions.
When one becomes a member of society, he necessarily parts with some rights or privileges which, as an individual not affected by his relations to others, he might retain. 'A body politic,' as aptly defined in the preamble of the Constitution of Massachusetts, 'is a social compact by which the whole people covenants with each citizen, and each citizen with the whole people, that all shall be governed by certain laws for the common good.' This does not confer power upon the whole people to control rights which are purely and exclusively private, Thorpe v. R. & B. Railroad Co., 27 Vt. 143; but it does authorize the establishment of laws requiring each citizen to so conduct himself, and so use his own property, as not unnecessarily to injure another. This is the very essence of government, and has found expression in the maxim sic utere tuo ut alienum non laedas. From this source come the police powers, which, as was said by Mr. Chief Justice Taney in the License Cases, 5 How. 583, 'are nothing more or less than the powers of government inherent in every sovereignty, . . . that is to say, . . . the power to govern men and things.' Under these powers the government regulates the conduct of its citizens one towards another, and the manner in which each shall use his own property, when such regulation becomes necessary for the public good. In their exercise it has been customary in England from time immemorial, and in this country from its first colonization, to regulate ferries, common carriers, hackmen, bakers, millers, wharfingers, innkeepers, &c., and in so doing to fix a maximum of charge to be made for services rendered, accommodations furnished, and articles sold. To this day, statutes are to be found in many of the States some or all these subjects; and we think it has never yet been successfully contended that such legislation came within any of the constitutional prohibitions against interference with private property. With the Fifth Amendment in force, Congress, in 1820, conferred power upon the city of Washington 'to regulate . . . the rates of wharfage at private wharves, . . . the sweeping of chimneys, and to fix the rates of fees therefor, . . . and the weight and quality of bread,' 3 Stat. 587, sect. 7; and, in 1848, 'to make all necessary regulations respecting hackney carriages and the rates of fare of the same, and the rates of hauling by cartmen, wagoners, carmen, and draymen, and the rates of commission of auctioneers,' 9 id. 224, sect. 2.
From this it is apparent that, down to the time of the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment, it was not supposed that statutes regulating the use, or even the price of the use, of private property necessarily deprived an owner of his property without due process of law. Under some circumstances they may, but not under all. The amendment does not change the law in this particular: it simply prevents the States from doing that which will operate as such a deprivation.
This brings us to inquire as to the principles upon which this power of regulation rests, in order that we may determine what is within and what without its operative effect. Looking, then, to the common law, from whence came the right which the Constitution protects, we find that when private property is 'affected with a public interest, it ceases to be juris privati only.' This was said by Lord Chief Justice Hale more than two hundred years ago, in his treatise De Portibus Maris, 1 Harg. Law Tracts, 78, and has been accepted without objection as an essential element in the law of property ever since. Property does become clothed with a public interest when used in a manner to make it of public consequence, and affect the community at large. When, therefore, one devotes his property to a use in which the public has an interest, he, in effect, grants to the public an interest in that use, and must submit to be controlled by the public for the common good, to the extent of the interest he has thus created. He may withdraw his grant by discontinuing the use; but, so long as he maintains the use, he must submit to the control.
Thus, as to ferries, Lord Hale says, in his treatise De Jure Maris, 1 Harg. Law Tracts, 6, the king has 'a right of franchise or privilege, that no man may set up a common ferry for all passengers, without a prescription time out of mind, or a charter from the king. He may make a ferry for his own use or the use of his family, but not for the common use of all the king's subjects passing that way; because it doth in consequence tend to a common charge, and is become a thing if public interest and use, and every man for his passage pays a toll, which is a common charge, and every ferry ought to be under a public regulation, viz., that it give attendance at due times, keep a boat in due order, and take but reasonable toll; for if he fail in these he is finable.' So if one owns the soil and landingplaces on both banks of a stream, he cannot use them for the purposes of a public ferry, except upon such terms and conditions as the body politic may from time to time impose; and this because the common good requires that all public ways shall be under the control of the public authorities. This privilege or prerogative of the king, who in this connection only represents and gives another name to the body politic, is not primarily for his profit, but for the protection of the people and the promotion of the general welfare.
And, again, as to wharves and wharfingers, Lord Hale, in his treatise De Portibus Maris, already cited, says: 'A man, for his own private advantage, may, in a port or town, set up a wharf or crane, and may take what rates he and his customers can agree for cranage, wharfage, housellage, pesage; for he doth no more than is lawful for any man to do, viz., makes the most of his own. . . . If the king or subject have a public wharf, unto which all persons that come to that port must come and unlade or lade their goods as for the purpose, because they are the wharfs only licensed by the queen, . . . or because there is no other wharf in that port, as it may fall out where a port is newly erected; in that case there cannot be taken arbitrary and excessive duties for cranage, wharfage, pesage, &c., neither can they be enhanced to an immoderate rate; but the duties must be reasonable and moderate, though settled by the king's license or charter. For now the wharf and crane and other conveniences are affected with a public interest, and they cease to be juris privati only; as if a man set out a street in new building on his own land, it is now no longer bare private interest, but is affected by a public interest.'
This statement of the law by Lord Hale was cited with approbation and acted upon by Lord Kenyon at the beginning of the present century, in Bolt v. Stennett, 8 T. R. 606.
And the same has been held as to warehouses and warehousemen. In Aldnutt v. Inglis, 12 East, 527, decided in 1810, it appeared that the London Dock Company had built warehouses in which wines were taken in store at such rates of charge as the company and the owners might agree upon. Afterwards the company obtained authority, under the general warehousing act, to receive wines from importers before the duties upon the importation were paid; and the question was, whether they could charge arbitrary rates for such storage, or must be content with a reasonable compensation. Upon this point Lord Ellenborough said (p. 537): 'There is no doubt that the general principle is favored, both in law and justice, that every man may fix what price he pleases upon his own property, or the use of it; but if for a particular purpose the public have a right to resort to his premises and make use of them, and he have a monopoly in them for that purpose, if he will take the benefit of that monopoly, he must, as an equivalent, perform the duty attached to it on reasonable terms. The question then is, whether, circumstanced as this company is, by the combination of the warehousing act with the act by which they were originally constituted, and with the actually existing state of things in the port of London, whereby they alone have the warehousing of these wines, they be not, according to the doctrine of Lord Hale, obliged to limit themselves to a reasonable compensation for such warehousing. And, according to him, whenever the accident of time casts upon a party the benefit of having a legal monopoly of landing goods in a public port, as where he is the owner of the only wharf authorized to receive goods which happens to be built in a port newly erected, he is confined to take reasonable compensation only for the use of the wharf.'
And further on (p. 539): 'It is enough that there exists in the place and for the commodity in question a virtual monopoly of the warehousing for this purpose, on which the principle of law attaches, as laid down by Lord Hale in the passage referred to [that from De Portibus Maris already quoted], which includes the good sense as well as the law of the subject.'
And in the same case Le Blanc, J., said (p. 541): 'Then, admitting these warehouses to be private property, and that the company might discontinue this application of them, or that they might have made what terms they pleased in the first instance, yet having, as they now have, this monopoly, the question is, whether the warehouses be not private property clothed with a public right, and, if so, the principle of law attaches upon them. The privilege, then, of bonding these wines being at present confined by the act of Parliament to the company's warehouses, is it not the privilege of the public, and shall not that which is for the good of the public attach on the monopoly, that they shall not be bound to pay an arbitrary but a reasonable rent? But upon this record the company resist having their demand for warehouse rent confined within any limit; and, though it does not follow that the rent in fact fixed by them is unreasonable, they do not choose to insist on its being reasonable for the purpose of raising the question. For this purpose, therefore, the question may be taken to be whether they may claim an unreasonable rent. But though this be private property, yet the principle laid down by Lord Hale attaches upon it, that when private property is affected with a public interest it ceases to be juris privati only; and, in case of its dedication to such a purpose as this, the owners cannot take arbitrary and excessive duties, but the duties must be reasonable.'
We have quoted thus largely the words of these eminent expounders of the common law, because, as we think, we find in them the principle which supports the legislation we are now examining. Of Lord Hale it was once said by a learned American judge, 'In England, even on rights of prerogative, they scan his words with as much care as if they had been found in Magna Charta; and the meaning once ascertained, they do not trouble themselves to search any further.' 6 Cow. (N. Y.) 536, note.
In later times, the same principle came under consideration in the Supreme Court of Alabama. That court was called upon, in 1841, to decide whether the power granted to the city of Mobile to regulate the weight and price of bread was unconstitutional, and it was contended that 'it would interfere with the right of the citizen to pursue his lawful trade or calling in the mode his judgment might dictate;' but the court said, 'there is no notive . . . for this interference on the part of the legislature with the lawful actions of individuals, or the mode in which private property shall be enjoyed, unless such calling affects the public interest, or private property is employed in a manner which directly affects the body of the people. Upon this principle, in this State, tavernkeepers are licensed; . . . and the County Court is required, at least once a year, to settle the rates of innkeepers. Upon the same principle is founded the control which the legislature has always exercised in the establishment and regulation of mills, ferries, bridges, turnpike roads, and other kindred subjects.' Mobile v. Yuille, 3 Ala. N. S. 140.
From the same source comes the power to regulate the charges of common carriers, which was done in England as long ago as the third year of the reign of William and Mary, and continued until within a comparatively recent period. And in the first statute we find the following suggestive preamble, to wit: 'And whereas divers wagoners and other carriers, by combination amongst themselves, have raised the prices of carriage of goods in many places to excessive rates, to the great injury of the trade: Be it, therefore, enacted,' &c. 3 W. & M. c. 12, s 24; 3 Stat. at Large (Great Britain), 481.
Common carriers exercise a sort of public office, and have duties to perform in which the public is interested. New Jersey Nav. Co. v. Merchants' Bank, 6 How. 382. Their business is, therefore, 'affected with a public interest,' within the meaning of the doctrine which Lord Hale has so forcibly stated.
But we need not go further. Enough has already been said to show that, when private property is devoted to a public use, it is subject to public regulation. It remains only to ascertain whether the warehouses of these plaintiffs in error, and the business which is carried on there, come within the operation of this principle.
For this purpose we accept as true the statements of fact contained in the elaborate brief of one of the counsel of the plaintiffs in error. From these it appears that 'the great producing region of the West and Northwest sends its grain by water and rail to Chicago, where the greater part of it is shipped by vessel for transportation to the seaboard by the Great Lakes, and some of it is forwarded by railway to the Eastern ports. . . . Vessels, to some extent, are loaded in the Chicago harbor, and sailed through the St. Lawrence directly to Europe. . . . The quantity [of grain] received in Chicago has made it the greatest grain market in the world. This business has created a demand for means by which the immense quantity of grain can be handled or stored, and these have been found in grain warehouses, which are commonly called elevators, because the grain is elevated from the boat or car, by machinery operated by steam, into the bins prepared for its reception, and elevated from the bins, by a like process, into the vessel or car which is to carry it on. . . . In this way the largest traffic between the citizens of the country north and west of Chicago and the citizens of the country lying on the Atlantic coast north of Washington is in grain which passes through the elevators of Chicago. In this way the trade in grain is carried on by the inhabitants of seven or eight of the great States of the West with four or five of the States lying on the seashore, and forms the largest part of interstate commerce in these States. The grain warehouses or elevators in Chicago are immense structures, holding from 300,000 to 1,000,000 bushels at one time, according to size. They are divided into bins of large capacity and great strength. . . . They are located with the river harbor on one side and the railway tracks on the other; and the grain is run through them from car to vessel, or boat to car, as may be demanded in the course of business. It has been found impossible to preserve each owner's grain separate, and this has given rise to a system of inspection and grading, by which the grain of different owners is mixed, and receipts issued for the number of bushels which are negotiable, and redeemable in like kind, upon demand. This mode of conducting the business was inaugurated more than twenty years ago, and has grown to immense proportions. The railways have found it impracticable to own such elevators, and public policy forbids the transaction of such business by the carrier; the ownership has, therefore, been by private individuals, who have embarked their capital and devoted their industry to such business as a private pursuit.'
In this connection it must also be borne in mind that, although in 1874 there were in Chicago fourteen warehouses adapted to this particular business, and owned by about thirty persons, nine business firms controlled them, and that the prices charged and received for storage were such 'as have been from year to year agreed upon and established by the different elevators or warehouses in the city of Chicago, and which rates have been annually published in one or more newspapers printed in said city, in the month of January in each year, as the established rates for the year then next ensuing such publication.' Thus it is apparent that all the elevating facilities through which these vast productions 'of seven or eight great States of the West' must pass on the way 'to four or five of the States on the seashore' may be a 'virtual' monopoly.
Under such circumstances it is difficult to see why, if the common carrier, or the miller, or the ferryman, or the innkeeper, or the wharfinger, or the baker, or the cartman, or the hackneycoachman, pursues a public employment and exercises 'a sort of public office,' these plaintiffs in error do not. They stand, to use again the language of their counsel, in the very 'gateway of commerce,' and take toll from all who pass. Their business most certainly 'tends to a common charge, and is become a thing of public interest and use.' Every bushel of grain for its passage 'pays a toll, which is a common charge,' and, therefore, according to Lord Hale, every such warehouseman 'ought to be under public regulation, viz., that he . . . take but reasonable toll.' Certainly, if any business can be clothed 'with a public interest, and cease to be juris privati only,' this has been. It may not be made so by the operation of the Constitution of Illinois or this statute, but it is by the facts.
We also are not permitted to overlook the fact that, for some reason, the people of Illinois, when they revised their Constitution in 1870, saw fit to make it the duty of the general assembly to pass laws 'for the protection of producers, shippers, and receivers of grain and produce,' art. 13, sect. 7; and by sect. 5 of the same article, to require all railroad companies receiving and transporting grain in bulk or otherwise to deliver the same at any elevator to which it might be consigned, that could be reached by any track that was or could be used by such company, and that all railroad companies should permit connections to be made with their tracks, so that any public warehouse, &c., might be reached by the cars on their railroads. This indicates very clearly that during the twenty years in which this peculiar business had been assuming its present 'immense proportions,' something had occurred which led the whole body of the people to suppose that remedies such as are usually employed to prevent abuses by virtual monopolies might not be inappropriate here. For our purposes we must assume that, if a state of facts could exist that would justify such legislation, it actually did exist when the statute now under consideration was passed. For us the question is one of power, not of expediency. If no state of circumstances could exist to justify such a statute, then we may declare this one void, because is excess of the legislative power of the State. But if it could, we must presume it did. Of the propriety of legislative interference within the scope of legislative power, the legislature is the exclusive judge.
Neither is it a matter of any moment that no precedent can be found for a statute precisely like this. It is conceded that the business is one of recent origin, that its growth has been rapid, and that it is already of great importance. And it must also be conceded that it is a business in which the whole public has a direct and positive interest. It presents, therefore, a case for the application of a longknown and wellestablished principle in social science, and this statute simply extends the law so as to meet this new development of commercial progress. There is no attempt to compel these owners to grant the public an interest in their property, but to declare their obligations, if they use it in this particular manner.
It matters not in this case that these plaintiffs in error had built their warehouses and established their business before the regulations complained of were adopted. What they did was from the beginning subject to the power of the body politic to require them to conform to such regulations as might be established by the proper authorities for the common good. They entered upon their business and provided themselves with the means to carry it on subject to this condition. If they did not wish to submit themselves to such interference, they should not have clothed the public with an interest in their concerns. The same principle applies to them that does to the proprietor of a hackney carriage, and as to him it has never been supposed that he was exempt from regulating statutes or ordinances because he had purchased his horses and carriage and established his business before the statute or the ordinance was adopted.
It is insisted, however, that the owner of property is entitled to a reasonable compensation for its use, even though it be clothed with a public interest, and that what is reasonable is a judicial and not a legislative question.
As has already been shown, the practice has been otherwise. In countries where the common law prevails, it has been customary from time immemorial for the legislature to declare what shall be a reasonable compensation under such circumstances, or, perhaps more properly speaking, to fix a maximum beyond which any charge made would be unreasonable. Undoubtedly, in mere private contracts, relating to matters in which the public has no interest, what is reasonable must be ascertained judicially. But this is because the legislature has no control over such a contract. So, too, in matters which do affect the public interest, and as to which legislative control may be exercised, if there are no statutory regulations upon the subject, the courts must determine what is reasonable. The controlling fact is the power to regulate at all. If that exists, the right to establish the maximum of charge, as one of the means of regulation, is implied. In fact, the commonlaw rule, which requires the charge to be reasonable, is itself a regulation as to price. Without it the owner could make his rates at will, and compel the public to yield to his terms, or forego the use.
But a mere commonlaw regulation of trade or business may be changed by statute. A person has no property, no vested interest, in any rule of the common law. That is only one of the forms of municipal law, and is no more sacred than any other. Rights of property which have been created by the common law cannot be taken away without due process; but the law itself, as a rule of conduct, may be changed at the will, or even at the whim, of the legislature, unless prevented by constitutional limitations. Indeed, the great office of statutes is to remedy defects in the common law as they are developed, and to adapt it to the changes of time and circumstances. To limit the rate of charge for services rendered in a public employment, or for the use of property in which the public has an interest, is only changing a regulation which existed before. It establishes no new principle in the law, but only gives a new effect to an old one.
We know that this is a power which may be abused; but that is no argument against its existence. For protection against abuses by legislatures the people must resort to the polls, not to the courts.
After what has already been said, it is unnecessary to refer at length to the effect of the other provision of the Fourteenth Amendment which is relied upon, viz., that no State shall 'deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.' Certainly, it cannot be claimed that this prevents the State from regulating the fares of hackmen or the charges of draymen in Chicago, unless it does the same thing in every other place within its jurisdiction. But, as has been seen, the power to regulate the business of warehouses depends upon the same principle as the power to regulate hackmen and draymen, and what cannot be done in the one case in this particular cannot be done in the other.
We come now to consider the effect upon this statute of the power of Congress to regulate commerce.
It was very properly said in the case of the State Tax on Railway Gross Receipts, 15 Wall. 293, that 'it is not every thing that affects commerce that amounts to a regulation of it, within the meaning of the Constitution.' The warehouses of these plaintiffs in error are situated and their business carried on exclusively within the limits of the State of Illinois. They are used as instruments by those engaged in State as well as those engaged in interstate commerce, but they are no more necessarily a part of commerce itself than the dray or the cart by which, but for them, grain would be transferred from one railroad station to another. Incidentally they may become connected with interstate commerce, but not necessarily so. Their regulation is a thing of domestic concern, and, certainly, until Congress acts in reference to their interstate relations, the State may exercise all the powers of government over them, even though in so doing it may indirectly operate upon commerce outside its immediate jurisdiction. We do not say that a case may not arise in which it will be found that a State, under the form of regulating its own affairs, has encroached upon the exclusive domain of Congress in respect to interstate commerce, but we do say that, upon the facts as they are represented to us in this record, that has not been done.
The remaining objection, to wit, that the statute in its present form is repugnant to sect. 9, art. 1, of the Constitution of the United States, because it gives preference to the ports of one State over those of another, may be disposed of by the single remark that this provision operates only as a limitation of the powers of Congress, and in no respect affects the States in the regulation of their domestic affairs.
We conclude, therefore, that the statute in question is not repugnant to the Constitution of the United States, and that there is no error in the judgment. In passing upon this case we have not been unmindful of the vast importance of the questions involved. This and cases of a kindred character were argued before us more than a year ago by most eminent counsel, and in a manner worthy of their wellearned reputations. We have kept the cases long under advisement, in order that their decision might be the result of our mature deliverations.