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of future reclamation. With the State of Panama as an integral part of the Colombian Republic we have nothing to do. It rests with the Government of Colombia to enforce in the States under its jurisdiction respect to the plighted faith of the supreme authority.” (Mr. Seward, Sec. of State, to Mr. Burton, min. to Colombia, April 9, 1864, MS. Inst.
Colombia, XVI. 93.) “After diligent inquiry I cannot learn that any unjust or unequal taxes
have been recently levied, and certainly no complaint of any has been made to me." (Commander G. H. Preble, U.S. N., to Mr. Burton, min. at Bogota, July 15, 1865, enclosed by Mr. Burton with his No. 190, Aug.
11, 1865, MS. Desp. from Colombia.) “I have to acknowledge the receipt of your despatches, Nos. 125 and 126,--dated, respectively, October 17th and 22d last, with their enclosures,—the first of which relates to the protests of the Pacific Mail Steamship Company against the payment of the Commercial Tax’imposed by the State of Panama on that company, and, the second, to the demand made by a Colombian official at Aspinwall, for the payment of the same tax, by all vessels of the United States discharging freights at that port.
“The subject will receive the early consideration of this Department, and your proceedings in that connection were quite proper and meet my approbation."
Mr. Seward, Sec. of State, to Mr. Burton, min. to Colombia, Jan. 10, 1865,
MS. Inst. Colombia, XVI. 116.
received from Mr. McKee, United States consul at Panama, of the pro-
protests were entered. (MSS. Dept. of State, Desp. from Colombia.) With his No. 126, also referred to by Mr. Seward, Mr. Burton enclosed a
correspondence in relation to a demand for payment of tonnage taxes by vessels discharging freight at Colon. This demand was made under art. 123 of the Colombian Custom House Law of May 9, 1864. Mr. Burton reported that the Colombian Minister of Foreign Relations had in a private interview informed him that it was not the intention of the Colombian Government to insist on the collection of the duty, the minister in this relation referring to an executive decree of Aug. 18, 1864, suspending the operation of art. 123 as to the free ports of the Republic.
(MSS. Desp. from Colombia.) See, also, Mr. Seward, Sec. of State, to Mr. Burton, min. to Colombia, Feb.
10, 1865, MS. Inst. Colombia, XVI. 126; and Nov. 12, 1866, id. 207. Approval was expressed of the action of Rear Admiral Thatcher, in direct
ing the commanding naval officer at Panama, in case an attempt should be made by the Colombian Government, after making a respectful remonstrance to the authorities of the Isthmus, to resist the collection of the tonnage tax by force if necessary, consulting at the same time the United States consul at Panama. It was stated, however, that there
reason to believe that the Colombian Government will not persist in the measure which would necessitate the extreme proceedings contemplated." (Mr. Seward. Sec. of State, to Mr. Welles, Sec. of Navy, Feb. 10, 1867, 75 MS. Dom. Let. 235.)
“It has been intimated to the Department from a source likely to
be well informed, that the New Granadian GovernCapitation tax.
ment has imposed a capitation tax of two dollars on all persons embarking at Panama for California. It is hoped however, that the information may not be correct. If, upon inquiry, you should ascertain that it is, you will remonstrate against it in terms which will leave no doubt that this government considers it adverse to the spirit, at least, of the treaty of the 12th of December, 1846. It is true that citizens of the United States are by that treaty placed upon the same footing only as citizens of New Granada in regard to the transit of the Isthmus of Panama, but, inasmuch as the numbers of our citizens who cross that Isthmus for the purpose of proceeding to California greatly exceeds those of New Granada, while the tax would bear lightly upon the New Granadians it would be onerous to citizens of the United States and incompatible with that freedom of transit which it was the intention of the treaty to secure to us as an equivalent for our guaranty of the neutrality of the isthmus. You will accordingly intimate that it is the expectation of this government that the tax referred to or any other in contravention of the spirit of the treaty will be discontinued. The New Granadian Government has certainly derived and will continue to enjoy sufficient benefits, both directly and indirectly, from the trade and intercourse between our Atlantic coast and California by the way of the Isthmus, to dispense with a tax of the character referred to even if there were no treaty. You may assure them, however, that if, under existing circumstances, the tax shall be exacted, it will lead to great irritation in this country.”
Mr. Clayton, Sec. of State, to Mr. Foote, min. to Colombia, Jan. 9, 1850,
MS. Inst. Colombia, XV. 139.
Nov. 18, 1852, 41 MS. Dom. Let. 93.
1849, by the legislative assembly of the State of Panama. The ordinance
Colombia, XV. 268.)
commission under the claims convention between the United States and
As to the legal aspects of the case, he said that the company did not appear
to have taken any steps to test the validity of the law, and that the failure to take such steps before the Colombian tribunals constituted a serious objection to the claim. As to the allegation of the claimant that the tax was a violation of Art. XXXV. of the treaty of 1846, Sir Frederick declared that “the tax, if a violation of the treaty at all, is a violation of the spirit and not of the letter of that instrument." He also stated that it did not appear that the United States addressed any representations to the supreme government at Bogota denouncing the proceeding as a violation of the treaty.” He therefore rejected the claim, without prejudice to the rights of the claimant, should the United States decide to make a demand for redress. In the course of his opinion he remarked that the Supreme Court of New Granada, in afterwards deciding a similar law to be invalid, put its decision on constitutional and not on treaty grounds. (Moore, Int. Arbitrations, II.
1412_1415.) The opinion was incorrect in saying that the United States had not com
plained to New Granada that the tax was a violation of the treaty. (Mr. Seward, Sec. of State, to Mr. Stanbery, At. Gen., Nov. 14, 1866,
74 MS. Dom. Let. 382.) Attorney General Akerman, in 1871, advised that the tax, being actually,
though not ostensibly, levelled at citizens of the United States, defeated
the plain intent of the treaty. (13 Op. 547.) “Unfortunately for the claimants, however, it (the opinion of Attorney
General Akerman) omits all notice of the principal point, which is whether it would be proper for this government, in view of the stringent terms of the 5th article [of the convention of Feb. 10, 1857), to demand of Colombia payment of a claim which had been rejected by the arbiter under the convention. It is true that Sir Frederick Bruce declared that his decision was not to prejudice the rights of the claimants. This declaration, however, must be regarded as extrajudicial and as not imposing liability on Colombia. Under these circumstances it is deemed advisable at least to defer a presentation of the case anew to that government." (Mr. Fish, Sec. of State, to Mr. Cox, M. C., March 14, 1872, 93 MS. Dom. Let. 139.)
By an act of the provincial assembly of Panama of Nov. 17, 1853, superseding the ordinance above mentioned, a tax of 10 per cent. was levied on the profits on each passenger arriving at or departing from the coast at either side, and the sum of $10 was assumed as the “unalterable basis” of such profits.
The United States protested against this tax on the following grounds:
1. That, although New Granadians were nominally liable to it, it constituted practically a discriminating tax on foreign vessels, and especially upon vessels of the United States; that, according to the United States consul at Panama, the tax of 1819 was not in fact collected from New Granadian citizens; that there was no New Granadian vessel carrying passengers sailing to or from Panama; that the burden of the impost under consideration fell practically upon citiizens of the United States, though the guarantee of neutrality was given tu exempt them from “such partial and oppressive exactions.”
2. That the tax violated the stipulation for a "free" transit, besides arbitrarily assuming a certain standard of profit.
3. That it was opposed to what had been the well understood policy of New Granada, as shown by art. 34 of the charter granted to the Panama Railroad Company, May 29, 1850, which guaranteed that passengers, merchandise, and effects of every kind, transported across the Isthmus from ocean to ocean by the railroad, should be exempt from taxes and imposts, whether national, provincial, municipal or of any other species.
Mr. Marcy, Sec. of State, to Mr. Green, Feb. 16, 1854, MS. Inst. Colombia,
relations had “ expressed it as the fixed determination of the Govern-
min. to Colombia, April 30, 1859, MS. Inst. Colombia, XV. 268.) Oct. 26, 1854, the provincial assembly of Panama by a new law restored the more profitable tax of $2 per capita on passengers embarking in the Bay of Panama. The Supreme Court of New Granada, April 23, 1855, however, on motion of the Attorney-General, declared the provincial laws of Nov. 17, 1853, and Oct. 26, 1854, to be null and void, as unconstitutional.
Mr. Marcy, Sec. of State, to Mr. Bowlin, min. to Colombia, Feb. 3, 1855, MS.
Inst. Colombia, XV. 199; Mr. Hunter, Act. Sec. of State, to Mr. Bowlin,
July 31, 1855, id. 205 ; Mr. Marcy to Mr. Bowlin, Aug. 31, 1855, id. 207. In the instruction last mentioned, Mr. Marcy, referring to the report that
the authorities of the State of Panama would, in spite of the decision of the Supreme Court, renew the tax, intimated that the United States would if necessary station a vessel of war at Colon and Panama to protect
American citizens and vessels from the exaction. “If the exaction should be made of your captains and agents, it might, in
the first instance, be resisted, if there should be any means for judi-
Mail S. S. Co., N. Y., Sept. 3, 1855, 44 MS. Dom. Let. 299.)
Mail S. S. Co., Aug. 7, and Aug. 28, 1856, 45 MS. Dom. Let. 432, 480.
MS. Notes to Colombia, VI. 71.
As to the question of the laying of taxes under the constitution of Colom
bia, the following may be noticed: * Your dispatch of September 12th, No. 50, has been received. “ The view of the so-called Bolivar tax which you have presented is
approved. It is not doubted that under the constitution of New Granada of 1858 the General or Federal Government alone has authority to levy duties on importations under its power to regulate foreign commerce. Nor does it seem doubtful that the United States having commercial relations with New Granada regulated by treaty may rightfully complain of any proceedings which affect their commerce in violation of the national constitution of New Granada, even though the wrong be committed under the alleged authority of one of the United States which constitute the national government of New Granada. The imposition of a tax by the State of Bolivar upon merchandise imported from the United States and yet remaining in unbroken bulk or package and upon which duties have been already paid to the National Government, under the national laws. seems so palpably a violation of the treaty of peace, amity, commerce and navigation existing between the two countries that it is presumed the national authorities will at once take the proper measures to produce a discontinuance of that injurious measure. You are instructed to persevere in your efforts to secure that end." (Mr. Seward, Sec. of State, to Mr. Burton, min. to Colombia, Jan. 30, 1863, MS. Inst. Colombia, XVI. 53.)
(5) TRANSIT OF TROOPS.
June , 1853, Mr. Paredes, chargé d'affaires of New Granada, complained that several hundred United States troops had crossed the Isthmus of Panama in July of the preceding year without the previous permission of the Congress of the Republic. Mr. Paredes complained of this as a violation of the New Granadian constitution. In reply, Mr. Marcy, who was then Secretary of State, said that the Secretary of War had at the time requested the opinion of the Department of State as to whether Art. XXXV. of the treaty of 1816 was intended to embrace the privilege of sending troops across the Isthmus, and that the opinion of the Department appeared to have been “unhesitatingly in the affirmative.” That article, said Mr. Marcy, guaranteed that the right of way or transit across the Isthmus should be “open and free to the Government and citizens of the United States.” It was obvious that the United States could have no other occasion for the free right of passage thus secured “than to send over that Ithmus persons in its employment in both the military and civil service.” The grant was understood by the United States to be full and unqualified, and it could not be regarded as impaired by the provision of the constitution to which Mr. Paredes had referred. The treaty, observed Mr. Marcy, was approved by the Congrees of New Granada, and it could not be supposed that that body, being acquainted with its own prerogatives, would have sanctioned an instrument that was supposed to trench upon them. On the contrary, it was not