Skip to main content

License Cases


LICENSE CASES (Thurlow v. Massachusetts, Fletcher v. Rhode Island, Peirce v. New Hampshire), 5 How. (46 U.S.) 504 (1847). In six opinions, with no majority, the United States Supreme Court upheld state statutes regulating the sale of alcoholic beverages that had been brought in from other states. The statutes were quadruply controversial: they involved temperance and prohibition, they impinged on interstate commerce, they interfered with property rights, and they were surrogates for the states' power to control enslaved persons and abolitionist propaganda. All eight sitting justices sustained the statutes on the basis of the states' police powers, but they disagreed on the problems of conflict between Congress's dormant power to regulate interstate commerce and concurrent state regulatory authority.


Swisher, Carl B. The Taney Period, 1836–1864. New York: Macmillan, 1974.

William M.Wiecek

See alsoInterstate Commerce Laws .

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"License Cases." Dictionary of American History. . 21 Jul. 2018 <>.

"License Cases." Dictionary of American History. . (July 21, 2018).

"License Cases." Dictionary of American History. . Retrieved July 21, 2018 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.