No. 32.
Mr. Reuterskiöld to Mr. Bayard.

Mr. Secretary of State: Referring to my note of the 31st of March last, I have the honor to address to your excellency a fresh communication upon the same subject, that is to say, touching the tonnage dues which at the present time weigh upon navigation between the United Kingdoms of Sweden and Norway and the United States.

His excellency the minister of foreign affairs at Stockholm has recently sent me instructions on the subject by a dispatch dated the 12th of this month, directing me at the same time to deliver a copy thereof to your excellency. I have, consequently, the honor to annex hereto a copy of that dispatch.

Your excellency will see by the line of argument developed in that document, and by the tenor of my instructions, that the Royal Government firmly maintains its position in demanding, in favor of the navigation between Sweden and Norway and the United States, the same advantages as are conceded by the shipping act of June 26, 1884, to that between the United States and other territories.

In conformity with the orders given to me, I now renew the demand upon the Government of the United States already set forth in my notes of the 4th October and 11th November of last year—that, in virtue of article 8 of the treaty of 1827, the navigation between the United Kingdoms of Sweden and Norway and the United States (whether by Swedish and Norwegian vessels or American vessels) be admitted to enjoy the benefits of the reduction which fixes the tonnage dues at 3 to 15 cents.

Convinced that the well-grounded demand of the Royal Government can be no longer gainsaid, and that it will please your excellency to set me in the way of informing my Government of the reply it confidently awaits, I hasten to embrace this opportunity to renew, etc.,

Copy of note addressed by his excellency the minister of foreign affairs at Stockholm to the minister of Sweden and Norway in Washington, under date of June 12, 1886.

I have had the honor to receive with your dispatch of March 31 last a copy of the note which Mr. Bayard addressed to you under date of the 29th of the same month touching our claim to obtain for the navigation between the United Kingdoms and the United States the same advantages as those which have been granted by the shipping act of June 26, 1884, to the navigation between the United States and certain areas of territory. You have, at the same time, sent me a copy of the correspondence on the subject which was printed for the use of Congress.

The answer of Mr. Bayard is negative, but the terms in which it is couched lead me to believe that, notwithstanding the clearness with which you, in the notes you addressed to him under date of October 4 and November 11, 1885, set forth the views and the demands of the King’s Government, our position has not been well comprehended.

In those notes you asked that the reduction of tonnage dues accorded by the act of June 26, 1884, to the vessels of any nation arriving in the United States from certain geographical points shall be also granted to vessels arriving from Sweden and Norway. You did not speak of the nationality of such vessels, but only of their point [Page 1893] of departure, your object being thereby to make it evident that it was not for the merchant shipping of Sweden and Norway, as such, that we claimed the privilege in question, but for the vessels arriving in the United States from our ports without distinction of nationality.

Nevertheless, Mr. Bayard, in the note above referred to, thus denned our claim:

“The claim appears to be that, by the eighth article of the treaty of 1827, the shipping of Sweden and Norway is entitled to the benefit of the above-mentioned act in common with other nations, but without submission to its geographical conditions and limitations as exacted from them.”

It is therefore evident that the scope of our claim has not been well understood, for if, instead of the words “the shipping of Sweden and Norway,” there had been employed the words “the shipping arriving from Sweden and Norway”—which would have indicated the precise point in question—all the latter part of the paragraph which I have just cited would become absolutely incomprehensible.

Mr. Bayard’s note can not, therefore, be considered as a reply to our demand, and it becomes necessary to invite anew the attention of the Government of the United States to the rights which accrue to us under the express stipulations of our treaties, and the more so as Mr. Bayard appears to assert, at the end of his note, the opinion that there is no conflict between the act of 1884 and our treaty of 1827. As this is precisely the point in dispute, I deem it useful to sum up our arguments afresh.

By the treaties of 1783 (article 2) and 1827 (article 17) the treatment of the most-favored nation is reciprocally established between the United Kingdoms and the United States. It is stipulated, in addition, by the eighth article of the treaty of 1827 as follows:

“The two high contracting parties engage not to impose upon the navigation between their respective territories, in the vessels of either, any tonnage or other duties, of any kind or denomination, which shall be higher or other than those which shall be imposed on every other navigation except that which they have reserved to themselves, respectively, by the sixth article of the present treaty.”

I must here point out the importance of the words “the navigation between their respective territories.” It is in nowise a question of the privileges of the mercantile marine of Sweden and Norway or the United States as such, but it concerns in the clearest possible manner the navigation from the ports of one of the parties to those of the other, which is expressly benefited on an equality with every other navigation. The significance of this stipulation is rendered still more clear by the fact that it was deemed necessary to declare, by a separate article, that article 8 should not be applicable to the navigation between the United Kingdoms and Finland, which is bound to the United Kingdoms by considerations of proximity and ancient relationship, and therefore enjoys an exceptional position. But no equivalent reservation was deemed necessary on the part of the United States, and it remains, consequently, established by the article in question, that vessels, whether Swedish or Norwegian or American, arriving from our ports in those of the United States, have a right to the benefits of any reduction of tonnage or other dues which maybe granted to vessels coming from any geographical point whatever.

I have begun by setting forth this argument, since it appears to me to define the question in a manner so clear and decisive, that it seems to me that after having taken it into consideration the solid foundation of our claim can no longer be the occasion of a doubt. I could, therefore, content myself with the support given to us by the stipulations of article 8; but, in order to better elucidate everything connected with this matter, I deem it due to assert that the “most favored-nation” clause seems to the Government of the King equally to justify a demand to participate in the reduction of the tonnage dues to 3 to 15 cents. It is true that this reduction applies to all vessels, without distinction or nationality, arriving from certain ports; but, since the Government of the United States maintains that no favor is accorded to the navigation of the countries where such ports are situated, since other vessels than those of the country itself share therein, it does not take into account that this advantage constitutes for the commerce of the ports in question, and consequently for the nations to which they belong, a veritable favor, since the traders there residing have obtained the privilege of employing for their intercourse of importation or exportation with the United States vessels which, on arriving in the American ports, are better treated and have lesser charges to pay than the vessels made use of by their competitors in other countries. It seems to me difficult not to admit that this is a favor, and, in so far as it has been granted gratuitously to any party in interest, our right to participate therein clearly flows from article 2 of the treaty of 1783. In placing ourselves upon this point of view, it is unnecessary to discuss whether the privilege created by the shipping act of 1884 in favor of certain ports is to be called national or geographical, as Mr. Bayard maintains in his note of November 7, 1885; for even if it be agreed to style the advantage created for the navigation of these ports a geographical privilege, it remains certain that the advantage granted to their commerce is a national favor.

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I do not find that the considerations I have herein set forth have been sufficiently discussed in the correspondence which you have sent me, and I invite you in consequence to renew the demand heretofore made upon the Government of the United States that, in virtue of the eighth article of the treaty of 1827, the vessels, whether Swedish or Norwegian or American, arriving in the United States from Sweden or Norway he admitted to share in the reduction of tonnage dues to 3 to 15 cents.

It seems to me that a refusal can not rest on any other assumption than that the act of 1384 has made the stipulations of the treaty of 1827 without effect. There is no necessity for my insisting on the fact that such an assumption would he contrary to the principles of international law recognized by civilized nations, and I have too much confidence in the good faith of the Government of the United States to suppose that it proposes to maintain that the obligations of a contract as solemn as our treaty can be modified or annulled at will by one of the contracting parties alone.

Accept, sir, etc.,

Alb. Ehrensvärd.