O'Connor v. Pittsburgh

Decision Date24 November 1851
Citation18 Pa. 187
PartiesO'Connor <I>versus</I> Pittsburgh.
CourtPennsylvania Supreme Court

We have had this cause reargued in order to discover, if possible, some way to relieve the plaintiff consistently with law; but I grieve to say we have discovered none. To the Commonwealth here, as to the king in England, belongs the franchise of every highway as a trustee for the public; and streets regulated and repaired by the authority of a municipal corporation, are as much highways as are rivers, railroads, canals, or public roads laid out by the authority of the quarter sessions. In England a public road is called the king's highway; and though it is not usually called the Commonwealth's highway here, it is so in contemplation of law, for it exists only by force of the Commonwealth's authority. Every railroad, canal, turnpike, or bridge company, has its franchise by grant from the state, and consequently with its original qualities and immunities adhering to it. Every highway, toll or free, is licensed, constructed, and regulated by the immediate or delegated action of the sovereign power; and in every Commonwealth the people in the aggregate constitute the sovereign. But it is the prerogative of a sovereign to be exempt from coercion by action; for jurisdiction implies superiority, and a sovereign can have no superior. At the declaration of American independence, prerogatives which did not concern the person, state, and dignity of the king, but such as had been held by him in trust for his subjects, were assumed by the people here and exercised immediately by themselves; among the rest, unwisely I think, the prerogative of refusing to do justice on compulsion. That a suit cannot be maintained against the state without its consent, is shown by the statute which enabled Pennsylvania claimants to sue the state for the value of lands ceded to Connecticut claimants within the seventeen townships in Luzerne county. But this prerogative would be unavailing if it could not protect the agents whom the Commonwealth has necessarily to employ. It was applied to the protection of a private corporation in the Monongahela Navigation v. Coons, and Henry v. The Allegheny Bridge; in which it was held that a chartered company to improve the...

To continue reading

Request your trial
64 cases
  • Mayle v. Pennsylvania Dept. of Highways
    • United States
    • Pennsylvania Supreme Court
    • July 14, 1978
    ...of the procedure allowing contract claims to be brought against the Commonwealth. Hutchinson v. Commonwealth, 6 Pa. 124, 127-28 (1847). In O'Connor, the Court held that were parts of the Commonwealth. In the hundred and twenty years following O'Connor, the immunities of local governments an......
  • State ex rel. Bd. of Com'rs of Hendricks Cnty. v. Bd. of Com'rs of Marion Cnty.
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court
    • November 8, 1907
    ...Depot Co., 169 U. S. 557, 18 Sup. Ct. 445, 42 L. Ed. 853;Williams v. Eggleston, 170 U. S. 304, 18 Sup. Ct. 617, 42 L. Ed. 1047;O'Connor v. Pittsburgh, 18 Pa. 187;Case of Phil. & Trenton Ry. Co., 6 Whart. (Pa.) 25,36 Am. Dec. 202. It was said by this court in Cones v. Board, etc. 137 Ind. 40......
  • State ex rel. Bd. of Com'rs of Hendricks Cnty. v. Bd. of Com'rs of Marion Cnty.
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court
    • June 24, 1908
    ...Depot Co., 169 U. S. 557, 18 Sup. Ct. 445, 42 L. Ed. 853;Williams v. Eggleston, 170 U. S. 304, 18 Sup. Ct. 617, 42 L. Ed. 1047;O'Connor v. Pittsburg, 18 Pa. 187;Case of Phil. & Trenton Ry. Co., 6 Whart. (Pa.) 25,36 Am. Dec. 202. It was said by this court in Cones v. Board, 137 Ind. 408, 409......
  • Mayle v. Pennsylvania Dept. of Highways
    • United States
    • Pennsylvania Supreme Court
    • August 31, 1978
    ...6 B. & S. 257, 295, 122 Eng.Rep. 1191, 1205 (Q.B.1865) (applying "the maxim that the King can do no wrong").8 O'Connor v. Pittsburgh, 18 Pa. 187, 189 (1851) (Gibson, C. J.). Even earlier, this Court had commented upon the necessity of the procedure allowing contract claims to be brought aga......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT