Mr. Gresham to Mr. Smythe.
Washington, December 16, 1893.
Sir: I have received your No. 9 of the 28th ultimo, stating that you have learned that the reason of the detention of sailing vessels in the Haitian ports until the duties on their inward cargoes are paid is based on the practice of permitting them to discharge their cargoes directly into the warehouses of the consignees, instead of into the Government custom-houses, as is done by steamers, and that owing to the uncertainty of its ability to follow the goods, the Haitian Government is compelled to detain the vessel as a security for the payment of the duties.
The practice you report is unreasonable, because shifting the usual and rational responsibility from the consignees to the carrier for the convenience of the former and without corresponding advantage to the latter. It would certainly justify shipowners in the United States in looking to some contract with the owners of the goods in order to guard their interests.
You may ascertain the views of the American mercantile community in this regard and report further, suspending action meanwhile.
I am, etc.,