No. 238.
Mr. Comly to Mr. Evarts .

No. 74.]

Sir: I have the honor to transmit correspondence with the Hawaiian foreign office upon the question whether the Hawaiian tariff upon American cotton goods made up into clothing is not in contravention of Article II of the reciprocity treaty.

The Hawaiian Government having asked an opinion from the Treasury experts at Washington, I refer the whole correspondence, and respectfully ask instructions.

I beg to direct especial attention, however, to the fact that this is not exactly a parallel case to one resting wholly upon an expert interpretation of the meaning of the phrase, as submitted by the Hawaiian Government.

In deciding upon the meaning of the phrase relating to cotton goods in this treaty, it seems to me the phrases relating to textile manufactures made of a combination of cotton, wool, &c., must be considered, and whether the use of the phrase “other than when ready-made clothing,” as applied to these textile combinations, and the omission of this phrase in the paragraph relating to all-cotton goods, does not imply that cotton goods, when ready-made clothing, ought not to pay duty.

The collector-general seeks to enlarge the meaning by injecting the phrase “other than when ready-made clothing” into the paragraph as to cotton goods where it does not occur. This he does, not because of anything in the treaty authorizing such interpretation, but because of the opinion of one of the commissioners that the words were meant to have been in the clause as to cotton goods also.

I have, &c.,

JAMES M. COMLY.
[Inclosure 1 in dispatch No. 74.]

Mr. Comly to Mr. Kapena.

No. 153.]

Sir: I am asked by importers of American goods, and by the United States consul, to submit to your excellency’s consideration the question whether the tariff collected by the Hawaiian custom-house upon all cotton manufactured into clothing, “the same being the growth, manufacture, or produce of the United States,” is not in contravention of Article II of the reciprocity treaty. For myself, I confess the question seems too plain for argument.” “Cotton and manufacturers of cotton, bleached and unbleached, and whether or not stained, painted, or printed,” must come in free. It is only when mixed with “wool, silk, or linen, or any two or more of them,” and not then unless when manufactured into “ready-made clothing,” that cotton can properly pay duty under the treaty. The mere statement of the point in the language of the treaty itself seems to me absolutely conclusive.

Renewing the assurances of my highest consideration and respect,

I am, &c.,

JAMES M. COMLY.

His Excellency John M. Kapena,
Minister of Foreign Affairs.

[Page 528]
[Inclosure 2 in dispatch No. 74.]

Mr. Kapena to Mr. Comly.

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communication of this date submitting to my consideration “the question whether the tariff collected by the Hawaiian custom-house upon all cotton manufactured into clothing, ‘the same being the growth, manufacture, or produce of the United States,’ is not in contravention of Article II of the reciprocity treaty.”

I have forwarded a copy of your dispatch to His Excellency S. K. Kaai, minister of finance, and await his answer, in order that I may fully reply to the question embraced in your letter now acknowledged.

With the highest respect, &c.,

JOHN M. KAPENA.

His Excellency James M. Comly,
United States Minister Resident.

[Inclosure 3 in dispatch No. 74.]

Mr. Wilder to Mr. Comly .

[With inclosure from collector-general.]

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge your dispatch under date of May 2, in which you ask whether the tariff collected by the Hawaiian custom-house upon all cotton manufactured into clothing, the same being the growth, manufacture or produce of the United States, is not in contravention of Article II of the reciprocity treaty.

The custom-house officials of this port have always considered the term “manufacture of cotton” could only be held to cover such goods as are imported in the same form as when they come from a cotton manufacturer’s hands, say, as piece goods, not after having passed through another process; a shirt, for instance, even if made wholly of cotton cloth, is not a manufacture of cotton, i. e. raw cotton; it is, made of cotton cloth, and as such, has not been admitted under the clause “manufacture of cotton.”

His Majesty’s Government have and desire to continue to give the reciprocity treaty the most liberal interpretation, and are open to argument on this point, and would be pleased to receive the interpretation placed upon this clause “cotton and manufactures of cotton, bleached and unbleached, and whether or not stained, painted or printed,” by the experts of the Treasury Department, at Washington.

I beg to hand you copy of a dispatch from the collector-general of customs, which clearly gives his reasoning upon this point.

Renewing the assurances of the highest respect and most distinguished consideration,

I have, &c.,

JAMES G. WILDER,
Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs.
[Inclosure in Mr. Wilder’s note of June 9.]

Sir: I am in receipt of your excellency’s communication, and would reply, that soon after the treaty went into effect some few of the importers took the ground that all articles of cotton, whether made up or in piece “if of the growth, manufacture, or produce of the United States” should be admitted free under the second article of the treaty. I then decided that nothing but piece goods could be admitted free. Any article made up must pay duty.

A few protests were filed and then the matter rested until November 15, 1877, when the minister of foreign affairs addressed me a letter, asking if any protests had been made, or if any ruling had been made on this point. I replied that the late minister of finance, Mr. Walker, had given me verbal instructions to the effect that the cabinet [Page 529] had decided that all cotton clothing, or cotton goods, made up, must pay duty. This seemed to be so well understood by the importers that none of them, to my knowledge, did anything more than file their protest.

The commissioners who negotiated the treaty said, that although the “words other than ready-made clothing” were not expressed here as in regard to wool and manufactures of wool, or textile manufactures, still such was the understanding and intention, that in neither case could anything other than piece goods he admitted free, or blankets, bed-spreads, and shawls, articles that are made at once, the same as apiece of calico or wool-pants stuff.

I can see no reason why cotton clothing should be admitted free and all other made dutiable. It seems as if the treaty showed plainly that made-up goods, in either cotton, wool, or textile fabrics, should not be free by its stipulations.

I have, &c.,

W. F. ALLEN,
Collector-General.

His Excellency Simon W. Kaai,
H. H. M. Minister of Finance, &c.

[Inclosure 4 in dispatch No. 74.]

Mr. Comly to Mr. Wilder.

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of yours of this date on the subject of the tariff on cotton goods.

As his majesty’s government express the wish to receive the interpretation of treasury experts at Washington, upon the disputed phrase, I have referred the question, and asked instructions.

Meantime I take the occasion to renew, &c.

JAMES M. COMLY.

His Excellency James G. Wilder,
Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs.