Trustees of Dartmouth College v. Woodward, 17 U.S. (4 Wheat.) 518 (1819), was a landmark decision in United States corporate law from the United States Supreme Court dealing with the application of the Contracts Clause of the United States Constitution to private corporations. The case arose when the president of Dartmouth College was deposed by its trustees, leading to the New Hampshire legislature attempting to force the college to become a public institution and thereby place the ability to appoint trustees in the hands of the governor of New Hampshire. The Supreme Court upheld the sanctity of the original charter of the college, which predated the creation of the State.
The decision settled the nature of public versus private charters and resulted in the rise of the American business corporation and the American free enterprise system.
In 1769, King George III of Great Britain granted a charter to Dartmouth College that spelled out the purpose of the school, s