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Ware v. Hylton


WARE V. HYLTON, 3 Dall. (3 U.S.) 199 (1796), 4 to 0. In this case the Supreme Court decided that federal laws have precedence over state laws. The Treaty of Paris (1783) provided that British creditors could recover debts without interference from state law. A Virginia statute absolved its citizens of responsibility if they paid such debts into the state treasury, thus confiscating the amounts due. The Court's decision in Ware v. Hylton nullified this statute. There were four opinions, but the most important was that of Justice Samuel Chase, who held that all state laws in conflict with federal treaties were "prostrate" before them. John Marshall, in his only appearance as an advocate before the Supreme Court, unsuccessfully argued the case for Virginia.


Casto, William R. The Supreme Court in the Early Republic: The Chief Justiceships of John Jay and Oliver Ellsworth. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1995.

Goebel, Julius, Jr. Antecedents and Beginnings to 1801. Vol.1 of History of the Supreme Court of the United States, edited by the United States Permanent Committee for the Oliver Wendell Holmes Devise. New York: Macmillan, 1971.

Stephen B.Presser

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