Mr. Gresham to Mr. Smythe.
Washington, October 23, 1893.
Sir: I desire to call your attention to Mr. Durham’s No. 228, of August 2 last, inclosing copy of a letter from Messrs. Green, Knaebel & Co., protesting against the Haitian regulation requiring the detention of sailing vessels in the ports of the Republic until the import duties on their cargoes are paid by the consignees.
This subject has been discussed with your predecessors, Messrs. Douglass and Durham.
The principal objection to the Haitian rule in this regard is that it is irrational, because visiting the carrier of the goods with delays and virtual penalties with regard to the things carried when they have passed out of the carrier’s hands with the fulfillment of his contract, and when the only relation remaining in respect to the goods is between the Government and the importer or consignee. In this latter transaction the goods themselves, being in the hands of the Government, furnish abundant security for the payment of the duties thereon. Were the goods delivered to the consignees by the customs officers in advance of payment of duties, the master of the vessel could not rightly be held responsible for any subsequent default of payment by the consignee. The rule is, moreover, unjust, because applied only to sailing vessels.
The instructions on file will enable you to deal with this unnecessary and unjustly discriminatory burden on the carrier under sail.
I am, etc.,