Mr. Gresham to Mr. de Marsilly.

Sir: My attention has been drawn by the Treasury Department to the circumstance that changes of French legislation in the rules of admeasuring merchant vessels, made since the exchange of rates in 1888–’89, whereby it was reciprocally agreed to accept as evidence of the fact the tonnage measurement certificates issued by the respective governments, such alterations have been made that a serious discrepency now exists between the French and American rules.

For instance, there is now pending in the Treasury Department a protest filed by the agent of La Compagnie Générate Transatlantique against the assessment of tonnage tax on the steamer La Gascogne at New York, upon 3,766 tons according to the Treasury rule of measurement, while the French certificate gives but 2,913 tons according to the modified French rule.

Attention was drawn to the general matter of these discrepancies by the Department’s note of November 3, 1891, and Mr. Patenôtre’s reply of March 31, 1893, expressed the readiness of your Government to conclude a special arrangement to settle the question so raised. Further information was asked and furnished on both sides, but since the last note of this Department on the subject, September 3, 1892, which responded to Mr. Desprez’s request for the rules governing the admeasurement of British vessels in the ports of the United States, no further action appears to have been taken.

As it is desirable that an understanding in this regard should be reached as soon as may be practicable, to the end that reciprocal acceptance of the respective tonnage certificates may continue, as contemplated in the agreement of 1888–’89, provided the pertinent legislation of the two countries be found in substantial agreement, I have to request that you will acquaint me with the present views of your Government thereon.

Meanwhile, in answer to an inquiry of the Secretary of the Treasury, based on the protest in the case of La Gascogne to which I have adverted, I have advised Mr. Carlisle that the arrangement of 1888–’89 can not be regarded as effectively continuing in view of the evident and considerable discrepancy which results from applying to the admeasurement of vessels the unchanged rule of the United States, which formed the basis of that agreement, and the subsequently modified French rule.

Accept, etc.,

W. Q. Gresham.