Mr. Westenberg to Mr. Fish.
Sir: The Government of the United States some time since, as your excellency is aware, granted, by treaty, exemption from tonnage dues in American ports to Belgian steamers plying directly between the ports of the two countries; and, recently, the same exemption has been granted to the steamers of the North German Lloyd line, which sail directly between the ports of the United States and the city of Bremen.
In view of the privileges with which the Government of the United States has favored these two lines, which sail, respectively, under the Belgian and under the German flag, I take the liberty to address your excellency, with the request that the same favor may be granted to the steamers of the Dutch line between Rotterdam and New York.
In support of my request, I take the liberty to call the attention of your excellency to Article II, of the treaty of October 8, 1782, between the Netherlands and the United States, one of the first treaties of friendship and commerce concluded by the United States, whereby the privileges granted to the most favored nations are secured to subjects of the Netherlands in the United States, in the most explicit terms and in all respects, particularly in matters similar to the one in question.
The Dutch line, in favor of which I address your excellency, has [Page 715] been, established for a short time, and makes direct and regular trips between Rotterdam and New York, at present with two steamers, the Rotterdam and the Maas; it should, therefore, be classed in the same category with the steamers of the Belgian line and those of the North German Lloyd.
As regards the exemption from the payment of tonnage dues which is enjoyed by American steamers in the port of Bremen, and which, according to communications received, was one of the reasons for which the same privilege was granted to the North German Lloyd steamers in American ports, I can inform your excellency that this same exemption is also granted in the Netherlands, since, by a law passed as long ago as July 14, 1855, which was published in the official journal of the Kingdom of the Netherlands of that year, No, 105, tonnage dues on vessels entering Dutch ports were abolished, and there is no likelihood of their being re-established. There is, therefore, in this respect, a perfect similarity between the situation of American steamers, in the port of Bremen, and in the ports of the Netherlands, since they enjoy the same exemption in both.
I hope, therefore, that your excellency will be pleased to take into consideration the request which I have the honor to address to you, and, seeing its justice, will cause to be granted to the Dutch line of steamers between New York and Rotterdam the same exemption from the payment of tonnage dues which has been granted to the Belgian and North German Lloyd lines.
I gladly avail myself of this occasion to offer to you, Mr. Secretary of State, the renewed assurances of my very high consideration.
The minister of the Netherlands,