Fletcher v. Peck: Summary & Significance

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  • 0:00 Case Summary
  • 1:53 Significance
  • 2:23 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jessica Schubert

Jessica is a practicing attorney and has taught law and has a J.D. and LL.M.

Following this lesson, you will know the facts and the Supreme Court decision in the case entitled Fletcher v. Peck. Moreover, you will review and understand the significance of the case.

Case Summary

Fletcher v. Peck was a significant landmark decision made by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1810, one of the original cases in which the Supreme Court held that a state law was unconstitutional in addition to establishing the sanctity of legal contracts.

After the American Revolution ended, the State of Georgia claimed that they owned a 35-million-acre tract of land. This land was known as the Yazoo lands and was an Indian reservation. In the late 1700s, Georgia split the area into four separate tracts of land, which were sold to four different developers. The Georgia legislature approved the sale. The legislative act which authorized the sale was the Yazoo Land Act of 1795.

Subsequently, it was discovered that the sales were made in exchange for bribes. As a result, the Yazoo Act was repealed and the legislature then voided the sales. John Peck had purchased a tract of land from the State and later sold it to Robert Fletcher for $15,000. After the legislature voided the sale, Fletcher sued Peck, arguing that Peck did not own the land when he sold it to Fletcher.

After a series of court cases, the case finally went to the Supreme Court to review the sale and determine whether the Yazoo Act was constitutional. The case involved the determination of whether the Yazoo Act was constitutional and therefore the contract was void, or if the Act was unconstitutional and therefore Fletcher had clear ownership of the property.

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