to Mr. Preston
Washington , June 13, 1879.
The undersigned, Secretary of State of the United States, has the honor to acknowledge the receipt of the note of Mr. Preston, envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary of Hayti, of the 28th ultimo.
In answer to that part of it which relates to the authentication by consular officers of Hayti in this country of the invoices of the cargoes of vessels bound to the ports of that republic, the undersigned has the honor to state that the charge of one per cent. on values for that proceeding is, after the most deliberate consideration, believed to be unduly exorbitant and tantamount to an export tax, which it does not comport with the dignity of this government to allow to be exacted by any foreign authority in the United States.
It seems plain that even if the exaction, in the form in which it is imposed, however moderate its amount may be, were once to be acquiesced in, this would be a bar to any objection which this government might make if the consular fee were to be much augmented. The inexpediency of subjecting exports from this Country to Hayti to a tax of the kind may be further illustrated by the fact that, owing to the dangers of the sea and other causes, many cargoes do not reach their destination.
The Government of the United States is, by its Constitution, expressly prohibited from levying an export tax. This right of sovereignty having, therefore, been denied, that government cannot allow it to be exercised here, in substance or in form, by any foreign power.
The right of the Haytian Government, at its discretion, so far as this? may not have been limited by treaty, to impose duties on the cargoes of vessels from this country arriving in Haytian ports, is not denied.
It is true that it is an axiom in political economy that all duties are ultimately paid by the consumer. This truism, however, does not counteract or mitigate the grievance of winch we complain in this case, that the consular [Page 596] fee exacted in our ports is in its form derogatory to the sovereignty of the United States. It is hoped, therefore, that the Haytian Government will see the expediency of changing its regulation upon that subject without any unnecessary delay.
The undersigned avails himself of this occasion to offer to Mr. Preston a renewed assurance of his very high consideration.