Mr. Gresham to Mr. Patenôtre.

Excellency: Your note of the 16th ultimo transmits a proposition relative to the admeasurement of French vessels and the assessment of tonnage tax on such vessels in ports of the United States. You suggest that the matter might rest as regards the assessment of navigation tax on the reciprocal acceptance of special certificates of admeasurement issued by the proper authorities of either country according to the rules in force in the other, and you state that such new arrangement would remove all possible difficulty, since the tonnage of French vessels would henceforward be measured in France according to American rules.

The subject having been submitted to the consideration of the Secretary of the Treasury, I have the honor to make known to you the substance of his reply. He states that the laws formerly in force in the [Page 217] United States were amended by the act of August, 1882, which prescribes that in cases like the present, when it shall be necessary to ascertain the tonnage of a vessel not a vessel of the United States, the said tonnage shall be ascertained in the manner provided by law for the measurement of vessels of the United States. As the law requires admeasurement by an officer of the United States, it is impracticable to accept admeasurements made by French officers. His letter to this Department of December 14th last (which was communicated to you on the 21st of that month), showed that the Government of France had adopted new regulations for measurement not substantially in accordance with the rules now existing in the United States. He considers, therefore, that the acts of Congress governing the matter will not warrant action in accordance with your suggestion. A copy of the regulations requested by you has been forwarded under separate cover, and your attention is invited to page 40 thereof.

Accept, Mr. Ambassador, etc.,

W. Q. Gresham.