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Dartmouth College v. Woodward (1818)

This case ruled that New Hampshire could not seize Dartmouth College to turn the institution into a state school. The school’s private charter with the British Crown involved private property and was a contract. Chief Justice John Marshall invoked the Contracts Clause of Article I, section 10: “the legislature of a state shall pass no act impairing the obligation of contracts.”

A young Daniel Webster argued on behalf of Dartmouth. The case touched on constitutional principles including economic rights and federalism, and civic values including industry and justice.