No. 411.
Mr. Gibbs to Mr. Evarts.

No. 208.]

Sir: I have the honor to inclose copies of correspondence between this legation and Mr. Clayton, United States consul at Callao, in reference to a question of depositing ships’ registers in the captain of the port’s office in places where there is no United States consul.

The Italian minister has had quite a discussion with the Peruvian Government on this matter; but I have taken the ground that it is a law of the country, and as such must be obeyed. I inclose copy and translation of the decree.

If the Department thinks it necessary that I should take any further notice of the matter I will be happy to receive instructions regarding it.

I am, &c.,

[Page 719]
[Inclosure 1 in No. 208.]

Mr. Clayton to Mr. Gibbs.

No. 8.]

Sir: I have the honor to inclose herewith the copy of a letter received from Mr. John P. Turner, master of the American ship Jane Fish. The Jane Fish arrived here from New York on the 23d of August, 1877, with an assorted cargo for this port, and an engine and ten cars for Ancon, for which latter, port the ship cleared on the 7th of September from this port, and on arriving at Ancon his papers were examined by the custom-house authorities and permission given to discharge, which permission the captain of the port treats as a nullity, and demands from Captain Turner the register of the ship as the only condition of being allowed to discharge.

To avoid all delay and expense, Captain Turner gives up all his papers under protest, and refers the matter to this office, thereby invoking the protection of his government against what he thinks is an unlawful act on the part of the captain of the port at Ancon, in which opinion I concur with him; and, in referring the matter to you for such action as you may think proper, would deem it an act of presumption to enumerate the reasons for such an opinion to one as learned as you are in the custom and practice of maritime law.

I am, &c.,

  • Hon. Richard Gibbs,
    United States Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary, Lima.
[Inclosure 2 in No. 208.]

Mr. Gibbs to Mr. Clayton.

Sir: Your communication of 11th instant, with a copy of a letter from John L. Turner, master of the ship Jane Fish, was duly received.

I should have answered before this, but having been informed that the Italian chargé d’affaires was in communication with the minister of foreign affairs on the same subject, that is, the right of the captains of the port, where there is no consul to represent the vessel’s nationality, to demand the register of the master for deposit.

The minister of marine has answered the inquiries made in reference to the matter, which shows there is a decree of the 21st of June, 1828, that demands the deposit of the register in the captain of the port’s office. This decree was given for the reason that vessels left without going through the form of clearing. I inclose a copy of the decree for your information.

Yours, &c.,

[Inclosure 3 in No. 208.—Translation.]

Copy of decree relative to deposit of ships’ register in captain of port’s office.


Department of state, in the department of the treasury, Peruvian Republic, government house, in the capital, Lima, the 21st of June, 1828.

To the prefect of the department of ——:

Through the department of state, in the office of government and foreign relations, a supreme resolution has been communicated with yesterday’s date, which is as follows:

I inclose to you by supreme order, for the end that may offer, the license and the crew-list left in the hands of the general commander of marine, the captain of the American ship Galon, which sailed surreptitiously, from the port of Callao, and without receiving the last naval visit, which is practiced in all the ports of civilized nations. As those examples are being repeated, and it is necessary to place a legal obstacle to avoid it, the government has resolved that through the department under your charge rules may be given in order to have the national register of all merchant vessels anchoring in the ports of the republic in the captain of the port’s office, who shall be obliged to return them immediately after the last official naval visit.

[Page 720]

Your excellency is also aware that the liberty with which boats are sailing off to any distance contributes in fomenting smuggling. It is resolved that in future none of them can go beyond the line of vessels anchored without previous license, and under the penalty to be declared as smugglers.

Transferred to your excellency for your knowledge and consequent effects.

God guard your excellency.


(Collection of Laws, 1832, v. 3, page 120.)