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U.S. Supreme Court

Fertilizing Company v. Hyde Park, 97 U.S. 659 (1878)

Fertilizing Company v. Hyde Park

97 U.S. 659


An Act of the General Assembly of Illinois approved March 8, 1867, incorporating the Northwestern Fertilizing Company, with continued succession and existence for the term of fifty years, authorized and empowered it to establish and maintain in Cook County, Illinois, at any point south of the dividing line between Townships 37 and 38, chemical and other works,

"for the purpose of manufacturing and converting dead animals and other animal matter into an agricultural fertilizer and into other chemical products, by means of chemical, mechanical, and other processes,"

and to establish and maintain depots in the City of Chicago, in said county,

"for the purpose of receiving and carrying off from and out of said city any and all offal, dead animals, and other animal matter which it might buy or own, or which might be delivered to it by the city authorities and other persons."

The works, owned by the proprietors thereof before they were incorporated, were located within the designated territory at a place then swampy and nearly uninhabited, but now forming a part of the Village of Hyde Park, and the company established and maintained depots in Chicago. In March, 1869, the legislature passed an act revising the charter of that village and granting to it the largest powers of police and local government -- among them to "define or abate nuisances which are, or may be, injurious to the public health," provided that the sanitary and police powers thereby conferred should not be exercised against the Northwestern Fertilizing Company in said village until the full expiration of two years from and after the passage of said act. Nov. 29, 1872, the village authorities adopted the following ordinance:

"No person shall transfer, carry, haul, or convey any offal, dead animals, or other offensive or unwholesome matter or material into or through the Village of Hyde Park. Any person who shall be in charge of or employed upon any train or team carrying or conveying such matter or material into or through the Village of Hyde Park shall be subject to a fine of not less than five nor more than fifty dollars for each offense,"

and, Jan. 5,1873, caused the engineer and other employee of a railway company, which was engaged in carrying the offal from the city through the village to the chemical works to be arrested chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 97 U. S. 660

and tried for violating the ordinance. They were convicted and fined fifty dollars each, whereupon the company filed this bill to restrain further prosecutions and for general relief.


1. That nothing passed by the charter of the company but what was granted in express terms or by necessary intendment.

2. That the charter, although, until revoked, a sufficient license, was not a contract guaranteeing that the company, notwithstanding its business might become a nuisance by reason of the growth of population around the place originally selected for its works, should for fifty years be exempt from the exercise of the police power of the State.

3. That the charter affords the company no protection from the enforcement of the ordinance.

The Northwestern Fertilizing Company, a corporation created by an Act of the Legislature of Illinois approved March 8, 1867, filed its bill in equity to restrain the Village of Hyde Park, in Cook County, Illinois, from enforcing the provisions of an ordinance of that village which the company claims impairs the obligation of its charter. The bill also prayed for general relief. The supreme court of that state affirmed the decree of the Circuit Court of Cook County dismissing the bill, whereupon the company sued out this writ of error.

The charter of the company and the ordinance complained of are, with the facts which gave rise to the suit, set forth in the opinion of the Court. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 97 U. S. 663

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