The UNITED STATES OF NORTH AMERICA.
UNITED STATES, January 10, 1791.
Gentlemen of the Senate:
I lay before you a representation of the charge d’affaires of France, made by order of his Court, on the acts of Congress of the 20th of July, 1789 and 1790, imposing an extra tonnage on foreign vessels, not excepting those of that country, together with the report of the Secretary of State thereon, and I recommend the same to your consideration, that I may be enabled to give to it such answer as may best comport with the justice and the interests of the United States.
JANUARY 18, 1791.
The Secretary of State having received from the charge d’affaires of France a note on the tonnage payable by French vessels in the ports of the United States, has had the same under his consideration, and thereupon makes the following report to the President of the United States:
The charge d’affaires of France, by a note of the 13th of December, represents, by order of his Court, that they consider so much of the acts of Congress of July 20, 1789 and 1790, as imposes an extraordinary tonnage on foreign vessels without excepting those of France, to be in contravention of the fifth article of the treaty of amity and commerce between the two nations; that this would have authorized on their part a proportional modification in the favors granted to the American navigation, but that his Sovereign had thought it more conformable to his principles of friendship and attachment to the United States to order him to make representations thereon, and to ask in favor of French vessels a modification of the acts which impose an extraordinary tonnage on foreign vessels.
The Secretary of State, in giving in this paper to the President of the United States, thinks it his duty to accompany it with the following observations:
The third and fourth articles of the treaty of amity and commerce between France and the United States subject the vessels of each nation to pay in the ports of the other only such duties as are paid by the most favored nation, and give them reciprocally all the privileges and exemptions in navigation and commerce which are given by either to the most favored nations. Had the contracting parties stopped here, they would have been free to raise or lower their tonnage as they should find it expedient, only taking care to keep the other on the footing of the most favored nation. The question, then, is whether the fifth article cited in the note is anything more than an application of the principle comprised in the third and fourth to a particular object, or whether it is an additional stipulation of something not so comprised.