No. 656.
Mr. Blaine to Mr. Fairchild.

No. 195.]

Sir: I inclose a copy of a letter from Messrs. Miller & Houghton, of 32 South street, New York, and a copy of a note addressed to them on the 28th ultimo by the consul-general of Spain at New York. It appears from the latter that the consulate-general there requires payment of “10 cents for every 1,000 kilograms,” of the cargo of vessels clearing for Spain, Cuba, and Porto Rico. A charge of this character you will perceive comes within the description of charges amounting to the levy of an export duty by Spain in the ports of the United States, such as contemplated in the note of Mr. Cushing of May 25, 1876, to the minister of state, communicated in his No. 963. In that note Mr. Cushing says:

But that which is above all things inadmissible is the number of provisions [of the Spanish consular tariff] which, while not connected with corresponding acts of the consul, are expressly charges on cargo, equivalent to an attempt on the part of Spain to levy an export duty on shipments in foreign ports, in violation of the fundamental principles of public rights and of national sovereignty.

So far as appears, the charge now sought to be enforced is more obnoxious to the observations contained in Mr. Cushing’s note than the special charges which were then being considered.

I address this instruction to you in connection with previous correspondence on the general subject, referring for the present only to instruction No. 349 of the 11th April, 1876, and in case you shall not find it advisable to present the matter to the attention of the minister of state at once, I will thank you to call Mr. Hamlin’s particular notice to this communication on his arrival at Madrid, to the end that he may, on familiarizing himself with the correspondence on the subject, make such representations as may appear to him proper.

I am, &c.,

[Inclosure in No. 195.]

Messrs. Miller & Houghton to Mr. Blaine.

Sir: Without any special notice from the consul of Spain, we see the annexed notice printed in the Journal of Commerce of this city, and would respectfully ask what charges the Spanish consul can properly impose upon American vessels before giving them a clearance from his office after the ship has been regularly cleared from the custom-house here for any of the Spanish colonies.

In addition to the charges heretofore made by the consul, it seems that he proposes to charge hereafter to the ship 10 cents per 1,000 kilograms on all the cargo carried—no matter to whom it belongs—before granting his clearance papers. Can he properly detain the ship here for the payment of the charges on the cargo, when the real interests of the ship and of the cargo are so entirely separate that the master cannot positively know of the weight or measurement of the cargo?

The cost heretofore of consul’s clearance for Spanish colonies has been as follows:

Bill of health $4 00
Visé of three manifests, $5 each 15 00
Certificates of crew and passenger lists 4 00
Making the consul’s total cost of clearance 23 00

[Page 1065]

But it cannot be calculated until the vessels are completely loaded what the Spanish consul’s charges may be on the cargoes under the new rule (a copy of which, over the consul-general’s signature, we inclose herewith).

Very respectfully,

[Appendix 1 to inclosure in 195.]

Spanish Consulate-General.

By orders received from Madrid, on and after October 31, vessels going to Cuba and Porto Rico will pay in this office the same clearance fees as vessels bound for Spain.

[Appendix 2 to inclosure in 195.]

Mr. De Uriarte to Messrs. Miller & Houghton.

Gentlemen: In answer to your inquiry by letter of the 27th instant, I beg to say that, in conformity with orders received from Madrid, vessels bound for Spain, Cuba, and Puerto Rico will pay in this office, from the 31st instant, the following clearance fees:

For the manifest $6 00
For bill of health 4 00
For crew list 4 00
For cargo, 10 cents for every 1,000 kilograms.

Very respectfully, yours,

Consul-General of Spain.