To the Printer of the Kingston Chronicle.
On the 5th inst. His Majesty's Collector of the Customs for the Port of Kingston, seized a Durham boat belonging to an honest and industrious individual of this place because it was built five or six years ago in the State of New York, and was therefore considered to be a foreign bottom. On the 7th inst. the said Collector gives notice in the U.C. Herald to "Merchants and others concerned, that foreign bottoms can no longer be engaged in the carrying trade of this Province, instructions having been received from His Majesty's Government to enforce the navigation laws, etc. Now I have only one query to ask the worthy Collector, viz: - why his notice was not dated two days before, instead of two days after his seizure? Was it to gratify the rapacity of his deputies? - that rapacity so proverbial among the tribe.
The injustice of the seizures lately made is glaring and indisputable. During thirty or forty years American bottoms, sometimes wholly navigated by American citizens, have been engaged in our carrying trade, and suffered to participate in its profits without molestation - nay, have been encouraged to engage in it from the want of mariners and vessels among ourselves - no one dreamed not even the most eagle-eyed Collector of the British navigation laws, until lately when American boats were purchased by Canadian subjects, and efforts were made to render the Province independent of foreign aid as respected the conveyance of her produce to the market of the lower province. Then all at once the film is removed from our eye-balls - the vision of our custom-house becomes clear, and the illegality of the long established practice is distinctly seen - but how is this practice to be repressed? Not by the gradual application of the law, as wisdom, humanity and sound principles of policy and justice would dictate, but by an instantaneous denunciation of all American bottoms whatever, no matter how long they may have been British property, what the circumstances of the country may have been, or what loss and ruin may be inflicted on honest industrious individuals - such proceedings if persisted in would absolutely disgrace the worst proconsulship of the worst era of Roman dominion - and cannot therefore be suffered under the just administration of a British Lieut.-Governor.
His Excellency will undoubtedly, on hearing the case, restore the old vessels and boats to the owners, and allow them to be used until they are worn out - let future purchases of American bottoms be denounced - and let the wrath of the custom house vent its thunder on persons hereafter violating the navigation laws - but let no violent injustice to individuals be perpetrated under the colour of law by public officers - it is contrary to sound policy - and horrifying to the universal feelings of propriety and equity.
Custom House Office,
Kingston, 7th July 1823.
Notice is hereby given to Merchants and others concerned, that Foreign bottoms can no longer be engaged in the Carrying Trade of this Province, instructions having been received from his Majesty's Government to enforce the Navigation Laws, which particularly prohibit their being so employed.
It is also necessary that the Master and three fourths of the crew of all vessels carrying goods from one British Port to another should be British Subjects.
C.A. Hagerman, Collector.