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every vessel arriving in that port, whether called on to perform any service or not, Steamship Company v. Port Wardens, 6 Wall. 31; and of a law of Texas, which required every vessel arriving at the quarantine station of any town on the coast of Texas to pay five dollars for the first hundred tons, and one and a half cents for each additional ton. Peete v. Morgan, 19 id. 581. So, when a law of New York required all vessels of a certain class which should enter the port of New York, or load or unload, or make fast to any wharf therein, to pay a certain rate per ton, this was held to be an unconstitutional imposition, because it applied to all vessels, whether they used a wharf or not. Inman Steamship Co. v. Tinker, 94 U. S. 238. All these were clear cases of duty on tonnage as distinguished from wharfage; and the terms of the ordinances and laws in question were very different from those of the ordinance now under consideration. We think it very clear that the ordinance in question cannot be regarded as imposing any other charge than that of wharfage. The fact that the rates charged are graduated by the size or tonnage of the vessel is of no consequence in this connection. This does not make it a duty of tonnage in the sense of the Constitution and the acts of Congress. So we have expressly decided in several recent cases. Cannon v. New Orleans, 20 Wall. 577; Packet Company v. Keokuk, 95 U. S. 80; Packet Company v. St. Louis, 100 id. 423'; Guy v. Baltimore, id. 434; Packet Company v. Catlettsburg, 105 id. 559. When the Constitution declares that "No State shall, without the consent of Congress, lay any duty of tonnage ;" and when Congress, in sect. 4220 of the Revised Statutes, declares that "No vessel belonging to any citizen of the United States, trading from one port within the United States to another port within the United States, or employed in the bank, whale, or other fisheries, shall be subject to tonnage tax or duty, if such vessel be licensed, registered, or enrolled," they mean by the phrases, " duty of tonnage," and "tonnage tax or duty," a charge, tax, or duty on a vessel for the privilege of entering a port; and although usually levied according to tonnage, and so acquiring its name, it is not confined to that method of rating the charge. It has nothing to do with wharfage, which is a charge against a vessel for using or lying
at a wharf or landing. The one is imposed by the government, the other by the owner of the wharf or landing. The one is a commercial regulation, dictated by the general policy of the country upon considerations having reference to its commerce or revenue; the other is a rent charged by the owner of the property for its temporary use. It is obvious that the mode of rating the charge in either case, whether according to the size or capacity of the vessel, or otherwise, has nothing to do with its essential nature. It is also obvious that since a wharf is property, and wharfage is a charge or rent for its temporary use, the question whether the owner derives more or less revenue from it, or whether more or less than the cost of building and maintaining it, or what disposition he makes of such revenue, can in no way concern those who make use of the wharf and are required to pay the regular charges therefor; provided, always, that the charges are reasonable and not exorbitant.
It is undoubtedly a general rule of law, in reference to all public wharves, that wharfage must be reasonable. A private wharf, that is, a wharf which the owner has constructed and reserves for his private use, is not subject to this rule; for, if any other person wishes to make use of it for a temporary purpose, the parties are at liberty to make their own bargain. That such wharves may be had and owned, even on a navigable river, is not open to controversy. It was so decided by this court in Dutton v. Strong, 1 Black, 23, and in Yates v. Milwaukee, 10 Wall. 497. Whether a private wharf may be maintained as such, where it is the only facility of the kind in a particular port or harbor, may be questioned. Sir Matthew Hale says: "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 wharves only licensed by the King, according to the statutes of 1 Eliz., cap. 11, 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 inhanced to an immoderate rate, but the duties must be reasonable and moderate, though settled by the King's license or charter." Har grave's L. T. 77.
Be this, however, as it may, it is an undoubted rule of universal application that wharfage for the use of all public wharves must be reasonable. But then the question arises, by what law is this rule established, and by what law can it be enforced? By what law is it to be decided whether the charges imposed are, or are not, extortionate? There can be but one answer to these questions. Clearly it must be by the local municipal law, at least until some superior or paramount law has been prescribed. At Parkersburg it is the law of West Virginia. The rule referred to is a rule of the common law undoubtedly, but it has force in West Virginia because the common law is the law of that State, and not because it is the law of the United States. The courts of the United States do not enforce the common law in municipal matters in the States because it is Federal law, but because it is the law of the State.
We have said that the reasonableness of wharfage must be determined by the local law until some paramount law has been prescribed. By this we mean, that until the local law is displaced or overruled by paramount legislation adopted by Congress, the courts have no other guide, no other law to administer on the subject than the local or State law. Our system of government is of a dual character, State and Federal. The States retain general sovereignty and jurisdiction over all local matters within their limits; but the United States, through Congress, is invested with supreme and paramount authority in the regulation of commerce with foreign nations and among the several States. This has been held to embrace the regulation of the navigable waters of the United States, of which the Ohio River is one. In the exercise of this authority over navigable waters Congress has, from the commencement of the government, erected light-houses, break-waters, and piers, not only on the sea-coast, but in the navigable rivers of the country; and has improved the navigation of rivers by dredging and cleaning them, and making new channels and jetties, and adopting every other means of making them more capable of meeting the growing and extending demands of commerce. It has extended its supervision in an especial manner to the Ohio River. Amongst other things, it has overcome the obstacle presented by the falls at Louisville by the construction of an
expensive canal. It has created ports of delivery along the river, of which the city of Parkersburg itself is one, and others are at Pittsburgh, Wheeling, Cincinnati, Louisville, Madison, Jeffersonville, New Albany, Evansville, Paducah, and Cairo. It has regulated the bridges which have been thrown across the river by authority of the States. It authorized the Wheeling bridge to stand, after this court had declared it to be a nuisance; requiring the officers of all vessels to regulate their pipes and chimneys so as not to interfere with the bridge, 10 Stat. 112; thus extending its common protection to commerce by land and commerce by water. It required the Newport and Cincinnati bridge to be removed or placed at a greater height above the water, after having been constructed in accordance with the laws of the States and of the United States. 16 id. 572.
Now wharves, levees, and landing-places are essential to commerce by water, no less than a navigable channel and a clear river. But they are attached to the land; they are private property, real estate; and they are primarily, at least, subject to the local State laws. Congress has never yet interposed to supervise their administration; it has hitherto left this exclusively to the States. There is little doubt, however, that Congress, if it saw fit, in case of prevailing abuses in the management of wharf property, -abuses materially interfering with the prosecution of commerce, — might interpose and make regulations to prevent such abuses. When it shall have done so, it will be time enough for the courts to carry its regulations into effect by judicial proceedings properly instituted. But until Congress has acted, the courts of the United States cannot assume control over the subject as a matter of Federal cognizance. It is Congress, and not the Judicial Department, to which the Constitution has given the power to regulate commerce with foreign nations and among the several States. The courts can never take the initiative on this subject.
There are cases, it is true, which are so national in their character, and in which it is so essential that a general or national rule should exist, that any interference by the State legislatures therewith is justly deemed to be an invasion of the power and authority of the general government; and in such cases the courts will interpose to prevent or redress the
commission of acts done or attempted to be done under the authority of such unconstitutional laws. In such cases, the non-action or silence of Congress will be deemed to be an indication of its will that no exaction. or restraint shall be imposed. Such is the import of the various passenger cases in which this court has pronounced unconstitutional any tax, duty, or other exaction imposed by the States upon emigrants landing in the country. Such is also the import of those cases in which it has been held that State laws imposing discriminating burdens upon the persons or products of other States are unconstitutional; it being deemed the intent of Congress that inter-state commerce shall be free, where it has not itself imposed any restrictions thereon. See Passenger Cases, 7 How. 283, 462; Cooley v. Board of Wardens, 12 id. 299, 319; Gilman v. Philadelphia, 3 Wall: 713; Crandall v. State of Nevada, 6 id. 42; Ward v. Maryland, 12 id. 418, 432; Case of the State Freight Tax, 15 id. 232, 279; Welton v. State of Missouri, 91 U. S. 275; Henderson v. Mayor of New York, 92 id. 259, 272; People v. Compagnie Générale Transatlantique, ante, p. 59.
But the case before us is not one of the kind referred to. Though the use of public wharves may be regulated by Congress as a part of the commercial power, it certainly does not belong to that class of subjects which are in their nature national, requiring a single uniform rule, but to that class which are in their nature local, requiring a diversity of rules and regulations. To quote the words of Mr. Justice Curtis in Cooley v. Board of Wardens, 12 How. 299, 319, "The power to regulate commerce embraces a vast field, containing not only many, but exceedingly various subjects, quite unlike in their nature; some imperatively demanding a single uniform rule, operating equally on the commerce of the United States in every port; and some, like the subject now in question [which was pilotage], as imperatively demanding that diversity which alone can meet the local necessities of navigation. . . Whatever subjects of this power are in their nature national, or admit only of one uniform system, or plan of regulation, may justly be said to be of such a nature as to require exclusive legislation by Congress. That this cannot be affirmed of laws