No. 981.
Mr. Bayard to Mr. Curry.

No. 272.]

Sir: Supplementing my instruction No. 271, of even date herewith, I inclose copies of correspondence between this Department and the United States consul-general at Havana, concerning discriminating tonnage dues collected by the customs authorities at Havana from the American steamer Jeanie in October last.

From these papers, it will be seen that in identical cases of a Spanish and an American vessel proceeding from one insular port to another in ballast before departing on the final voyage to the United States, the difference of treatment is conspicuous.

I am, etc.,

T. F. Bayard.
[Inclosure 1 in No. 272.]

Mr. Adee to Mr. Williams.

No. 314.]

Sir: Referring to my instruction of the 25th ultimo relative to alleged discrimination in tonnage charges against American steam-ships clearing from ports of the Spanish West Indies, I inclose a copy of dispatch No. 61, dated the 15th ultimo, from our commercial agent at Cardenas, reporting that the American steam-schooner Jeanie, having entered the port of Cardenas in ballast from Ponce, Porto Rico, was required to pay on clearing $1 per ton as tonnage dues, whereas Spanish vessels similarly situated are required to pay only 25 cents per ton (of cargo it is presumed) clearance dues.

You are instructed to report fully on this case in connection with your report on the case submitted on the 25th ultimo.

I am, etc.,

Alvey A. Adee,
Second Assistant Secretary.
[Page 1446]
[Inclosure 2 in No. 272.]

Mr. Churchill to Mr. Bayard.

No. 61.]

Sir: I have the honor to inform you that the steam-schooner Jeanie, of New York (862.95 tons), arrived here on the 10th day of October in ballast from Ponce, Porto Rico, and that on clearing her the collector of the custom-house demanded that the vessel should pay $1 per ton for tonnage dues, which being clearly contrary to the agreement entered into between Spain and the United States on the 21st of September, 1887, wherein it says “that all vessels coming to the island of Cuba under similar circumstances” with Spanish vessels shall pay the same tonnage dues; and inasmuch as a Spanish vessel coming from Porto Rico in ballast pays 25 cents per ton for tonnage dues, the captain claimed the same privilege, which was rejected by the collector of the customs of this port, he giving as a reason that he had not been advised of any change, and the amount demanded was paid under protest. I have advised the consul-general at Havana, and am, etc.,

James M. Churchill.
[Inclosure 3 in No. 272.]

Mr. Williams to Mr. Rives.

No. 738.]

Sir: I have the honor to inclose for the information of the Department a translated copy of the communication addressed by me on the 12th instant to the governor-general of this island, asking, in compliance with the Department’s instruction No. 314, dated the 4th ultimo, and in conformity with the modus vivendi agreed upon between the United States and Spain at Washington the 21st day of September of the present year, the return of the excess of the tonnage dues collected last October by the custom-house of Cardenas, in this island, on the American steamer Jeanie, arrived in ballast there from Ponce, Porto Rico, and dispatched with a cargo of sugar for New York.

As will be seen from my communication to the governor-general, a similar treatment to that now complained of was imposed on this same steamer in this port of Havana last January; but the excess then collected was returned by decision of the intendant-general of finance to the agents here on the 27th of last April. In view of that precedent already established, I hope soon to be able to report the return of the excess at present in question.

I am, etc.,

Ramon O. Williams.
[Inclosure 4 in No. 272.]

Mr. Williams to the Governor-General.

Excellency: Complying with special instructions received from my Government, I have now the honor to present to your attention and to commend to your consideration the fact of an excess collected by the custom-house of Cardenas in the tonnage dues corresponding to the American steamer Jeanie, the circumstances of the case being as follows:

This American steamer arrived at Cardenas on the 10th of October last, in ballast from the port of Ponce, in the island of Porto Rico, where it had gone from the United States; but on being dispatched in Cardenas, loaded with sugar for New York, the collector of customs there exacted and collected tonnage dues at the rate of $1 instead of 25 cents per ton, which is the rate paid by Spanish vessels under similar circumstances, against which act the master protested in season as being in opposition to the present modus vivendi agreed upon between the United States and Spain in Washington on the 21st of September of the present year, which stipulates in its articles, first, that it is positively agreed that from that date an absolute equalization of tonnage dues shall be applied to American vessels in Cuba, Porto Rico, and the Philippines as collected in said islands [Page 1447]on Spanish vessels proceeding from the United States or from any other foreign country in exchange of the stipulations of the same modus vivendi that concedes equal rights in the ports of the United States to the Spanish vessels that arrive there from the same islands and all other countries belonging to the Crown of Spain.

In support of this representation I have also the honor to cite the fact of this same steamer having arrived in this port of Havana on the 28th of December, last year, as now, in ballast from Porto Rico, and that in consequence-of the tonnage dues having been mistakenly collected here at $1 per ton in place of 25 cents per ton, the intendancy-general of finance, upon petition of the consignees, ordered the return of the excess, which was done on the 27th April of the present year by payment of the sum of $543.45 to Messrs. Hidalgo & Co., the consignees aforementioned.

Therefore, in view of the preceding reasons, I have to ask your excellency to be pleased to order that the excess of tonnage dues unduly collected by the custom-house of Cardenas upon the American steamer Jeanie be returned to the person or persons authorized to receive it.

I have, etc.,

Ramon O.Williams.
[Inclosure 5 in No. 272.]

Mr. Williams to Mr. Rives.

No. 755.]

Sir: I beg to inform you that not having received any acknowledgment of the communication which, in compliance with the Department’s instruction No. 314, I addressed to the governor-general on the 12th of December last, asking for the return of the excess of tonnage dues collected by the customs authorities of Cardenas from the American steamer Jeanie, arrived therein ballast from Ponce, island of Porto Rico, the 10th of October last, I addressed, in consequence, another communication upon this same subject to his excellency on the 30th ultimo, copy of which is herewith inclosed for the information of the Department.

Under the modus vivendi between the United States and Spain done at Washington the 21st September, 1887, Spanish vessels, as I understand, have the right of changing ports in the United States in ballast for the purpose of loading outward cargo under the same rates of foreign tonnage dues as are paid by our own vessels; therefore, it would seem to be no more than just that under the same agreement the reciprocal right should be enjoyed by our vesssels of changing ports in ballast in the Spanish dominions on the payment of the same rates of tonnage charged to Spanish vessels. In fact, this right was acknowledged and practiced by the immediate predecessor of the present intendant-general of finance with respect to this same vessel on a former trip, as I mentioned in my dispatch No. 738, dated December 14 last. As proof that Spanish vessels pay under these circumstances 25 cents per ton and not $1, as has been charged to the steamer Jeanie, I inclose translated copy of a letter received from the collector of this port the 6th of the said month of December, a former copy of which accompanied my dispatch No. 740.

Besides this case, another similar one happened to the brig J. W. Parker at Zaza, and the same treatment was intended also to have been applied lately to two American vessels recently arrived in ballast at Matanzas from Porto Rico.

In view of these facts, I beg respectfully to ask that this claim of the steamer Jeanie be sent to Mr. Curry, our minister to Spain, for settlement with the authorities at Madrid.

I am, etc.,

Ramon O. Williams.
[Inclosure 6 in No. 272.—Translation.]

Mr. de la Torre to Mr. Williams.

Sir: In reply to your attentive letter of the 5th instant, I have the honor to inform you that Spanish vessels arriving here from Porto Rico in ballast and sailing afterward loaded with sugar for the United States pay tonnage dues at the rate of 25 cents for [Page 1448]each thousand kilos, gross, excepting those Spanish steamers of periodical trips, which enjoy an exemption from their payment.

The tonnage dues collected in Porto Rico do not serve as a basis at all in this island, because of the different manner in which they are collected.

I am, etc.,

Alfonso de la Torre.
[Inclosure 7 in No. 272.—Translation.]

Mr. Williams to the Governor-General.

Excellency: By special instruction of my Government, I had the honor on the 12th of December ultimo of addressing your excellency an official communication asking that you would please order the return of the excess of tonnage dues which, in contravention of the present modus vivendi between the United States and Spain, and of the decision rendered upon the subject by his excellency the intendant-general of the treasury, was collected by the custom-house of Cardenas upon the tonnage of the American steamer Jeanie, which arrived at that port on the 10th of October last past, in ballast, from Porto Rico. And not having received any answer whatever, I have again, in consequence and in compliance with said instruction, to solicit that your excellency be pleased to inform me of the result of my said communication.

I have, etc.,

Ramon O. Williams.