to Mr. Lowell.
Washington , November 12, 1877.
Sir: In the dispatch from Mr. Hall, the United States consul-general at Havana, of which a copy accompanies my No. 27, of this date, reference is made to the Spanish system of readmeasurement by local officers of vessels bearing American registers, which is shown during a given period during the past year to have resulted in assigning to certain [Page 769] American vessels a tonnage some 34 per cent, in excess of that ascertained in the United States. It is not unlikely that the same discrepancy may occur to a greater or less extent in other instances where officers of the Spanish service readmeasure American vessels for the purpose of assessing tonnage-taxes thereon, notwithstanding the proven identity of the system of admeasurement prescribed by the laws of the two countries, in common with England, Germany, and other nations, and which is known as the Moorsom system.
The difficulty, so far as Cuba is concerned, is believed to have been already remedied by a royal order of the ministry of ultramar, of the 30th of July last, admitting vessels of the United States into the ports of the island without readmeasurement, on exhibition of their national register, or “certificados de argues,” which shall be taken to set forth their true tonnage for the purposes of assessing taxation. It is stated in that royal order that the measure is adopted provisionally in consideration of the good desires of the American Government toward that of Spain in the matter until the pending negotiation for the reciprocal admission of tonnage certificates between the two countries shall be settled.
The friendly disposition of the Spanish Government in this matter, and its action in regard to American shipping in Cuban ports, is appreciated, and it is hoped that the Government of His Majesty may speedily concur in the adoption of the general measure providing for the reciprocal admission of tonnage certificates, to which this government gave its official consent more than a year ago, and which is so much needed in the interest of the commercial intercourse between the two countries.
I am, &c.,