p.2 American Navigation Laws
Last month Messrs. Rae Brothers & Co., of Hamilton addressed the Hon. Inspector General, Toronto, to the effect that they last fall loaded one of their vessels at Chicago for Ogdensburg with the intention of transhipping at Kingston. The cargo was discharged at Walker & Berry's stores, where it remained a day or two, and was re-shipped on board a river barge for Ogdensburg; there it was seized, and is still held by the Government for violating the coasting trade. Messrs. Rae then ask if any violation of the Law has been committed. The Hon. W. Caley refers the question to R.S.M. Bouchette, Inspector of Ports, who replies that he does not perceive in what way the coasting laws of the United States have been violated or, upon what grounds the seizure was made. Messrs. Rae, Brothers & Co. subsequently addressed Mr. Marcy, Secretary of state, and submitted the following questions, which we give, with the answer of the Secretary of the Treasury.
1st. If we loaded one or more of our vessels (British bottoms) at Chicago, or any other American port in our inland waters, for Ogdensburgh, and enter said cargoes at a British port in transitu, such as St. Catherines or Kingston, discharge cargo at such British port, and tranship afterwards per same vessel, or in a river barge for port of destination, will such an act be considered by your government as a violation of the coasting trade?
2nd. Can British or Canadian vessels carry grain from one American port to another, on payment of 50 cents a ton tonnage dues at the port of destination, without being liable to seizure or confiscation?
3rd. Is the tonnage due payable on Custom House or carpenter's measurement?
(Signed) Rae, Brothers, & Co.
February 25th, 1857.
Gentlemen - I beg to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 20th instant, and in reply to inform you that the 4th section of the Navigation Act of the United States, approved March 1st, 1817, prohibits vessels belonging in whole or in part to a subject of any foreign power, from engaging in the coasting trade of the United States, under penalty of the forfeiture of the merchandise on board; and the Department regards the shipment of merchandize in a foreign vessel, from a port in the United States, destined to another port in the United States, by the way of any port in the British Provinces, though said merchandize may be transhipped at said port, as a violation of said Navigation Act, if it is brought to its port of destination either in the same or in another foreign vessel.
(Signed) James Guthrie (Guthrim ?), Secretary of State.
Messrs. Rae, Brothers, & Co. Hamilton, C.W.