Sir Julian Pauncefote to Mr. Olney.
Washington, July 26, 1896.
Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your note No. 410, of the 5th ultimo, in which you inclose copy of a letter from the Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, stating that he must decline to remit the fine of $300 imposed on the master of the steamship Cuban on the ground of a violation of the immigration laws.
The case presents some features of hardship which I desire to bring to your attention, in the hope that on further consideration a more indulgent view may be taken, and that a recurrence of such cases may be avoided by adopting at New Orleans the practice followed at New York in regard to stowaways.
In my note of the 16th ultimo [May] asking for the remission of this fine I had the honor to call your attention to the ruling of the United States courts in the case of the United States vessel Sandrey, where it was laid down that a stowaway on a British vessel once enrolled as a member [Page 304] of the crew acquired the status of a British seaman; that in the event of his desertion he was to be considered as a deserting seaman, and not as an alien immigrant; and that the master consequently could incur no penalty under the immigration laws. The application of that decision to the present case would seem quite clear, and yet no notice is taken of it in your reply, and it is suggested that the enrollment of stowaways, discovered at sea, as members of the crew is contrary to English law.
I am unable to find in the British merchant shipping act any such prohibition in the case of stowaways, and in practice they are so dealt with from the necessity of the case.
But apart from any legal consideration, and assuming that Cavanagh and Downey could properly be considered as alien immigrants, and that the provisions of the immigration law are applicable to the case, it is manifest that no breach of the law was intended by the master.
The decision in the case of the United States vessel Sandrey was given in favor of a former master of the same steamer.
Captain Bertie, after receiving the order of the immigration inspector to deport the two men, used his utmost endeavors to prevent their landing. With that object, as stated in his letter of the 11th of May to the collector of customs, he employed one of Boylan’s policemen, in addition to the ship’s officers (three of whom were on duty night and day); but owing apparently to the negligence of Boylan’s officer in replacing the first watchman by another to whom the men were not pointed out, they succeeded in getting ashore.
The master at once offered a reward through the police for their apprehension, but without success. Their escape was evidently not due to any personal negligence on his part, and the collector of customs in his letter to the British consul of 13th May expresses an opinion to that effect.
Under these circumstances I trust that the Treasury Department may be disposed on further consideration to direct that the fine be remitted.
The Cuban belongs to the West Indian and Pacific Steamship Company of Liverpool, whose standing places them and their officers above all suspicion of any intent to disregard the laws of the United States.
As regards the mode of dealing with stowaways arriving in British ships at New York, I have the honor to inclose a copy of a report which I have received from Her Majesty’s consul-general in that city, and I venture to invite your particular attention to the statement it contains as to the usage of entering on the ship’s articles stowaways discovered at sea in British vessels, and as to the practice of the New York customs authorities of landing such stowaways on arrival and keeping them in custody at the expense of the ship until her departure.
It seems only reasonable that in such cases masters of foreign vessels should receive some assistance from the local authorities in their efforts to comply with the immigration laws.
I have, etc.,