Mr. Bayard to Mr. von Alvensleben.
Washington, November 7, 1885.
Sir: I had the honor to receive in due season your note of August 3 last, touching the application of the provisions of the fourteenth section of the shipping act, approved June 26, 1884, in respect of the collection of tonnage tax to vessels of Germany coming from ports of that country to ports of the United States, under the most favored nation clause of the existing treaty of 1828 between the United States and Germany.
The importance of the questions involved in the claim of the German Government and in like claims preferred by other governments has led to the submission of the entire subject to the judgment of the Attorney-General.
The conclusions of the Department of Justice, after a careful examination of the premises, are that—
The discrimination as to tonnage duty in favor of vessels sailing from the regions mentioned in the act, and entered in our ports is, I think, purely geographical in character, inuring to the advantage of any vessel of any power that may choose to fetch and carry between this country and any port embraced by the fourteenth section of the act. I see no warrant, therefore, to claim that there is anything in “the most favored nation clause” of the treaty between this country and the powers mentioned that entitles them to have the privileges of the fourteenth section extended to their vessels sailing to this country from ports outside of the limitation of the act.
These conclusions are accepted by the President, and I have, accordingly, the honor to communicate them to you, as fully covering the points presented in your note of August 3 last.