Mr. Bayard to Viscount das
Washington, November 7, 1885.
Viscount: I have had the honor to recur to the question presented in your note of the 15th March last, to which my note of May 21 made response by communicating to you the views of the Treasury Department touching the application of the provisions of the fourteenth section of the shipping act approved June 26, 1884, to vessels of Portugal coming from ports of that country directly to ports of the United States under the most favored nation clause of the existing treaty of 1840.
You will recall the opinion of the Secretary of the Treasury, as quoted by me, to the effect that while the stipulations of Article XIII of the treaty with Portugal would seem to involve the granting, by the shipping act, of similar contingent privilege to vessels of Portugal sailing from their national ports directly for ports of the United States, this privilege is not granted to “Portuguese vessels arriving in our ports from ports of departure that do not, under the shipping act, invest vessels sailing from them with a right to exemption.”
The importance of the questions involved in the claim of the Portuguese Government, and in like claims subsequently preferred by other governments, has led to the submission of the entire subject to the judgment of the Attorney-General, to the end that a precise and uniform response should be made in each case.
The conclusions of the Department of Justice, after a careful examination of the premises, are, that—
The discrimination as to tonnage duty in favor of vessels sailing from the regions mentioned in the act and entered in our ports is, I think, purely geographical in character, inuring to the advantage of any vessel of any power that may choose to fetch and carry between this country and any port embraced by the fourteenth section of the act. I see no warrant, therefore, to claim that there is anything in “the most favored nation” clause of the treaty between this country and the powers mentioned that entitles them to have the privileges of the fourteenth section extended to their vessels sailing to this country from ports outside the limitation of the act.
These conclusions are accepted by the President, and I have accordingly the honor to communicate them to you as fully covering the points presented in your note of 15th March last.