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Encyclopedia Dubuque


"Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.”
Marshall Cohen—researcher and producer, CNN

Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


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FANNING V. GREGOIRE. Argued before the United States Supreme Court in 1853 by Dubuque attorney Platt SMITH, the case involved the right to operate a ferry line from Dunleith (East Dubuque, Illinois) across the MISSISSIPPI RIVER to Dubuque. Only one carrier could have the franchise. In 1838 Timothy FANNING had acquired a territorial permit for twenty years. Charles H. GREGOIRE, a member of the family who had operated the main ferry line since 1838, had given up his territorial permit and obtained a Dubuque city license when Iowa became a state. This license was to begin on April 1, 1852.

Between 1852 and 1854 Gregoire arranged to sell his equipment and route to the ILLINOIS CENTRAL RAILROAD for $40,000. Fanning, in an attempt to obtain Gregoire's route, sued claiming that his territorial permit took precedence over a city license.

Smith representing Gregoire, successfully argued that the city license was an act of a new state and was superior to a territorial permit. The Court's decision in favor of Gregoire affirmed the legal status of Iowa and the rights of Iowa citizens against any claims made on colonial or territorial law.



Klein, Robert F. Dubuque: Frontier River City. Research Center for Dubuque Area History, Loras College, Dubuque, Iowa, 1984, p. 97

Fanning v. Gregoire 57 U.S. 524 (1853) Justia US Supreme Court. Online: https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/57/524/case.html