No. 453.
Mr. Seward to Mr. Lowell.

No. 44.]

Sir: The contents of your dispatch No. 25 respecting the admeasurement of vessels having been communicated to the Secretary of the Treasury, that officer has addressed this Department with reference to the matter in terms which I quote below:

The case stands as follows: The government of Spain, having adopted the Moorsom system, provided her vessels with documents, showing that they had been admeasured under that system. Spain was, therefore, added to the list of countries mentioned in article 137 of the Revised Customs Regulations of 1874, and the proper instructions were issued to collectors of our ports by-circular No. 92, dated July 11, 1877, under which they were to accept such Spanish registers and recognize the tonnage therein expressed.” But the article cited requires, and the circular required, that if the Spanish law exempts any part of a vessel not exempt by our laws, as, generally, the laws of other foreign countries do, such parts of Spanish vessels were to be admeasured and added to the tonnage expressed in the register. This is the practice of all our ports in the case of all nations which have adopted the Moorsom system; and presuming that there are parts of vessels exempted by the laws of Spain from admeasurement, which our laws require to be admeasured, this department sees no good reason to make an exception to that practice in favor of Spain.

If, however, it should appear that the papers of Spanish vessels show that the entire vessel is admeasured under Spanish laws, and that the tonnage they express is the total of an admeasurement of every part, there would be no need to admeasure any part, because none would be omitted. And in that case there would be no cause for modifying either the instructions to collectors or the regulations, as on the production, of evidence of such admeasurement to the proper customs officer he would accept a Spanish document as indicating the true tonnage of a vessel of that country.

You will please bring the substance of this communication from the Secretary of the Treasury to the attention of His Majesty’s government.

I inclose two copies of the circular of the Treasury Department of the 11th of July last referred to.

I am, &c.,

Acting Secretary.