No. 53.
Mr. Delfosse to Mr. Evarts.

Sir: I am instructed by the Government of the King to transmit to you the inclosed circular, whereby it invites the’ Government of the United States to a conversion of the local dues now collected in the port of Antwerp in accordance with the stipulations of the treaty for the redemption of the Scheldt dues.

The new regulation, which is projected in consequence of the revision of the system of admeasuring Belgian vessels, is but a simple conversion, without any augmentation, of existing dues, and in no wise impairs the engagement entered into with the powers that signed the treaty not to permit the re-establishment of the local dues at Antwerp.

The Government of the King would be very glad to be made acquainted as speedily as possible with the views of the Government of the United States as regards the subject of this circular, to which are annexed—

A copy of the proposed regulations for the admeasurement of seagoing vessels.
The text of the revised articles of the regulations of June 22, 1861.

I should therefore be very grateful to you, Mr. Secretary of State, if you would cause these papers to receive as prompt attention as the convenience of the Department will permit.

Accept, Mr. Secretary of State, the assurance of my very high consideration.



The governments represented at the International Conference, held at Constantinople in 1873, recognized, in principle, the utility of the adoption, by all maritime powers, of a uniform system of admeasurement of sea-going vessels, and they came to an agreement, practically, on two essential points, namely: the capacity of the standard ton (110 English cubic feet) and the method of measuring the gross ton.

The Belgian Government, having decided to revise its own system of admeasurement, has adopted, on these points, the unanimous views of the members of the conference. It has also accepted the method recommended by them for the measurement of the net tonnage of sail-vessels. As regards the computation of the net tonnage of steam vessels, on which subject differences of opinion prevailed among the members of the international assembly, it has thought proper to pronounce in favor of the special deductions allowed by the system of the sontes fixes. *

The Government of the United States of America will become familiar with the nature of the new Belgian system by perusing the accompanying proposed regulations.

The change made in the capacity of the official ton in Belgium, as well as in the method of admeasurement, rendered it necessary to remodel the local dues at Antwerp, which are collected according to the tonnage of the vessels. This revision was made by the government, with the assistance of the communal administration of Antwerp.

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Although the point in question is a simple conversion of dues, involving no increase of those now collected, the Government of the King has decided not to enforce the new regulations and the tariff arising therefrom until after it shall have invited the States which signed the treaty of July, 1863, for the redemption of the Scheldt dues, to examine the perfect legality of the projected measure; its design has been thereby to prevent any ulterior objection to the character of the revision, and to give evidence of the strict good faith with which it proposes to respect the engagement contracted by it towards the powers in question, not to permit the re-establishment of the local dues at Antwerp.

The Government of the United States of America will therefore be pleased to compare with the former text the new wording (inclosed) of articles 1, 4, and 10 of the regulations of June 22, 1861, relative to the collection of navigation dues, and to notify, as speedily as possible, the Government of the King of its adhesion to the proposed revision.

A communication identical with the present one is addressed to each one of the States that have contributed to the redemption of the Scheldt dues.

Those of them which have adopted or which propose to adopt the Moorsom system of admeasurement will be pleased to observe that the enforcement of the new regulations will enable the Belgian Government to dispense with the remeasurement of such vessels as have been measured according to this system in the country to which they belong.

revised articles of the regulations of june 22, 1861, relative to the collection of navigation-dues at antwerp.

Article 1. Sea-going sail-vessels and steamers entering the basins or the canals shall pay a single duty to the city, according to the following tariff:

Tonnage of the vessels (tons of 2 m. cubic, 83-100). Duty per ton (not including the additional ones).
85 tons and under 0.47
86 to 128 tons 0.53
129 to 171 tons 0.58
172 to 214 tons 0.64
215 to 257 tons 0.76
258 tons and upwards 0.82

Article 4. Sea-going steamers loading or unloading in the harbor, at the docks or at a wharf in the river, shall pay per ton—

For each of the first ten voyages 0.26
For each of the ten following 0.18
For each subsequent voyage 0.12

To secure a diminution of dues, the voyages must take place within the course of the year after the date of the first arrival.

Article 10. On payment of the dues required for stay in the basins, vessels may remain there three months. After that time they will pay six centimes per ton for each month. A month begun shall be paid for in full.

Note.—The regulations for the admeasurement of vessels are not printed, because they do not differ essentially from the Moorsom system, which is found in the Revised Statutes of the United States, and also in the customs regulations of the Treasury Department for 1874.

  1. Sonte, a magazine or store-room. Sonte a Carbon, coal-hole or coal-bunker.