This section is from the book "The Constitutional Law Of The United States", by Westel Woodbury Willoughby. Also available from Amazon: Constitutional Law.
The Charles River Bridge Co. v. Warren Bridge Co.28 case is another case in point. The facts of this famous case were these: The plaintiff company, under charter authority, had at great expense erected a bridge across the Charles River, over which it was authorized to charge tolls. The public interest seeming to demand it, the construction nearby of a second bridge was authorized, the immediate effect of which would, of course, be to divide the business of the first company and diminish its profits. The Supreme Court, by adopting the principle that all such charter grants are to be most strictly construed against the grantees, was able to hold that the charter to the first company not having expressly guaranteed an exclusive privilege, none was to be presumed. Chief Justice Taney, in his opinion, said: "The relative position of the Warren Bridge has already been described. It does not interrupt the passage over the Charles River Bridge, nor make the way to it or from it less convenient. None of the faculties or franchises granted to that corporation have been revoked by the Legislature; and its right to take the tolls granted by the charter remains unaltered. In short, all the franchises and rights of property enumerated in the charter, and there mentioned to have been granted to it, remain unimpaired. But its income is destroyed by the Warren Bridge; which, being free, draws off the passengers and property which would have gone over it, and renders their franchise of no value. This is the gist of the complaint. For it is not pretended that the erection of the Warren Bridge would have done them any injury, or in any degree affected their right of property, if it had not diminished the amount of their tolls. In order, then, to entitle themselves to relief, it is necessary to show that the legislature contracted not to do the act of which they complain; and that they impaired, or in other words, violated, that contract, by the erection of the Warren Bridge. The inquiry then is, does the charter contain such a contract on the part of the State? Is there any such stipulation to be found in that instrument ? It must be admitted on all hands, that there is none, - no words that even relate to another bridge, or to the diminution of their tolls, or to the line of travel. If a contract on that subject can be gathered from the charter, it must be by implication, and cannot be found in the words used. Can such an agreement be implied ? The rule of construction before stated is an answer to the question."
26 Rector of Christ Church v. Philadelphia Co., 24 How. 300; 16 L. ed. 602; Tucker v. Ferguson. 22 Wall. 527; 22 L. ed. 805; R. R. Co. v. Board of Super-visors. 93 U. S. 595: 23 L. ed. 814.
27 200U. S. 22; 26 Sup. Ct. Rep. 224; 50 L. ed. 353.
28 11 Pet. 420; 9 L. ed. 773.