Weckherlin to Mr. Bayard.
Washington, May 9, 1888. (Received May 10.)
Mr. Secretary of State: At the instance of Messrs. Kunhardt & Co., the New York agents of the Royal Dutch West India Mail Company, I take the liberty to have recourse to your well-known kindness in relation to the tonnage dues exacted in New York on the 25th of April last from the Dutch steamer Prins Maurits.
This steamer is the first of a new regular line just organized by the said company, the plan of whose route you will find inclosed.
The Prins Maurits sailed from Amsterdam and arrived in New York after having called successively at Paramaribo, Demerara, Trinidad, Carúpano Cumaná, La Guayra, Puerto Cabello, and Port au Prince.
The New York custom-house compelled the Prins Maurits to pay a duty of 6 cents per ton.
Messrs. Kunhardt & Co. protest against this decision, which they declare to be in violation of the proclamation of the President of the United States of America of April 22, 1887, suspending the collection [Page 1342] of tonnage dues in the case of vessels arriving from ports in the Netherlands.
They appeal to the text of that proclamation, which merely says that the vessel must come from a port situated in the Netherlands, and nowhere says that the voyage must be direct.
Messrs. Kunhardt & Co. further observe that the proclamation is a document which, from its very nature, does not appear to admit of a restrictive interpretation.
Finally, the interested parties desire to refer to the decisions in regard to the Marmion, the San Francisco, the Hernan Cortes, and the Cella, in deciding whose cases the Government of the United States of America clearly laid down the rule that it is the port of departure that decides concerning the collection of tonnage dues, and not the port or ports which the vessel has entered during her voyage.
For these reasons Messrs. Kunhardt & Co. think that the amount in question should in justice be refunded to them.
I have the honor to commend this application to your kind consideration, and I avail, etc.