Letter from the Secretary of the Treasury: In compliance with a resolution of the House of Representatives of the United States, calling for information concerning the inland trade with Mexico: 26th Congress, First Session: Document No. 191. [House of Representatives, Treasury Department] [Digital Version]

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United States. Dept. of the Treasury, Letter from the Secretary of the Treasury (Blair & Rives, April 17, 1840)

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Title: Letter from the Secretary of the Treasury: In compliance with a resolution of the House of Representatives of the United States, calling for information concerning the inland trade with Mexico: 26th Congress, First Session: Document No. 191. [House of Representatives, Treasury Department] [Digital Version]
Alternate Title: Inland trade with Mexico
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Author: United States. Dept. of the Treasury
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Description: U.S. Congressional publication calling for information concerning inland trade with Mexico. Includes correspondence by Levi Woodbury, Secretary of the Treasury, et. al.. 8 pp.
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Source(s): United States. Dept. of the Treasury, Letter from the Secretary of the Treasury (Blair & Rives, April 17, 1840)
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Keywords: Getty Art & Architecture Thesaurus
  • Government publications
Keywords: Library of Congress Subject Headings
  • United States--Commerce--Mexico
  • Mexico--Commerce--United States
  • Santa Fe National Historic Trail
  • Customs administration
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  • Mexico (nation)
  • United States (nation)
  • Missouri (state)
  • Louisiana (state)

26th CONGRESS, 1st Session. Doc. No. 191. HO. OF REPS. Treas. Dept.

INLAND TRADE WITH MEXICO.
LETTER
FROM
THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY,
IN COMPLIANCE
With a resolution of the House of Representatives of the United States,
calling for information concerning the inland trade with Mexico.

APRIL 17, 1840.
Referred to the Committee on Commerce.

TREASURY DEPARTMENT, April 15, 1840.

SIR: I have the honor to submit the following report in answer to the
resolution of the House of Representatives of the 6th instant, directing the
Secretary of the Treasury “to communicate to this House whether, under
existing laws, drawback of duties is, or, in his opinion, can be, allowed on
on goods used in carrying on an inland trade between the United States
and the Republic of Mexico; and whether any, and what plan could be
most conveniently adopted for that purpose. Also, any information in his
power in relation to the annual amount of said trade, the route or routes by
which it is carried on, and in what the same consists.”

In regard to the first inquiry contained in the resolution, “whether, under
existing laws, drawback of duties is, or, in my opinion, can be, allowed on
goods used in carrying on an inland trade between the United States and
the Republic of Mexico,” I would observe that no drawback of the duties is
at present allowed on goods used in the trade mentioned, nor can such
drawback be allowed, in the opinion of the department, under the provisions
of existing laws regulating that subject.

With respect to the second inquiry, “whether any, and what plan could
be most conveniently adopted for that purpose.” I would, in answer thereto,
respectfully refer the House to the accompanying copy of a communication,
addressed by the department in January, 1835, to the Committee on Commerce
of the House of Representatives, covering a report from the Comptroller
of the Treasury, suggesting a plan, with suitable regulations, for the
allowance of drawback on goods carried over-land from Port Independence,
on the Missouri river, to Sante Fe, in the province of New Mexico. These
papers are marked A and B, and were printed by order of the House, and
are contained in document No. 116, vol. 3, 2d session, 23d Congress. The
committee before mentioned reported a bill on the 21st of December, 1835
(No. 48), embracing in its provisions the plan suggested by the Comptroller,
for a particular route therein specified; which, with suitable modifications,


Blair & Rives, printers.


2

might include such other routes through which the trade over land to Mexico
is, or may be, contemplated to be carried on. It is believed that the action
of the committee grew out of a memorial from the General Assembly
of the State of Missouri, on the subject of an inland trade to the provinces
of Mexico, and an allowance of a drawback of the duties on goods used
therein.

The last inquiry is in regard to “any information in my power in relation
to the annual amount of said trade, the route or routes by which it is
carried on, and in what the same consists.”

In answer to this, I have to remark that the department possesses no
other information in reference to the routes through which this trade is
pursued, or in what the same consists, than that contained in the accompanying
copy of a communication addressed to it by the chamber of commerce,
at New Orleans, marked C. Respecting the annual amount of the
trade, it is to be observed that the department has no information in its
possession on which an opinion can be based. As the answers given to
the chamber of commerce at New Orleans, by the department, have a
bearing on the subject under consideration, I deem it proper to transmit
copies of the same, with this report; they are marked D, E, and F.

All which is respectfully submitted.

LEVI WOODBURY,
Secretary of the Treasury. Hon. R. M. T. HUNTER,
Speaker of the House of Representatives.

A.
TREASURY DEPARTMENT, January 23, 1835.

SIR: In regard to the subject contained in the resolution of the House
of Representatives of the 11th ultimo, accompanying your letter of the 8th
instant, making inquiry in behalf of the Committee on Commerce of the
House, whether, in the opinion of the department, any regulations can be
conveniently prescribed without endangering in too great a degree the safe
and regular collection of the revenue, for the accomplishment of the
objects proposed in the resolution, to wit: The expediency of allowing
drawbacks on all goods, wares, and merchandise, of foreign growth, and
manufacture, subject to the payment of duties, transported by land through
the interior of the United States to the Mexican provinces; and also upon
merchandise of foreign manufacture, intended for Indian trade west of the
Rocky mountains, and within the supposed limits of the territory of the
United States; and also with respect to the expediency of establishing a
port of entry at Port Independence, in the county of Jackson, Missouri,
I have the honor to transmit, for the consideration of the committee, the
enclosed report, made to the department by the Comptroller, under date of
the 20th instant, pointing out the made in which the objects specified in
the foregoing resolution can be accomplished without, it is conceived, injuriously
affecting the interests of the revenue. Should the committee
deem it expedient to recommend the legislation of Congress upon this subject,


3

I would respectfully suggest that the regulations enumerated in the
Comptroller's report should be specifically provided for by law.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

LEVI WOODBURY,
Secretary of the Treasury. Hon. S. C. PHILLIPS,
Member of the Committee on Commerce,
House of Representatives.

B.
TREASURY DEPARTMENT,
January 20, 1835.

Comptroller's Office,

SIR: You have referred to me, for my report thereon, a resolution of the
House of Representatives, “that the Committee on Commerce be instructed
to inquire into the expediency of allowing drawbacks on all goods, wares,
and merchandise, of foreign growth and manufacture, subject to the payment
of duties, transported by land through the interior of the United
States to the Mexican provinces; and also upon merchandise of foreign
manufacture, intended for Indian trade west of the Rocky mountains, and
within the supposed limits of the territory of the United States; and that
the said committee be instructed to inquire into the expedience of establishing
a port of entry at Port Independence, in the county of Jackson,
Missouri.”

Upon inquiry as to the manner in which the trade in question is intended
to be carried on, I have been informed that the traders, in their purchases
of goods, would confine themselves to the ports of New York, Philadelphia,
Baltimore, and New Orleans, or would import them directly into St. Louis;
that they would then be transported principally by water to the town of
Independence, near the western boundary of the State of Missouri; and
thence be conveyed 800 miles by land carriage to the city of Santa Fe, the
capital of New Mexico, where the Mexican Government has a customhouse,
with the requisite officers to superintend the same, and where there
is a consul of the United States.

According to the 75th and 92d sections of the collection law of 2d
March, 1799, goods to be entitled to drawback are required to be exported
to some foreign port or place, other than the dominions of some foreign
state immediately adjoining to the United States; and the exportation
must be made by sea, and in vessels of not less than 30 tons burden; but
the 2d section of the act of January 5, 1805, entitled “An act concerning
drawbacks on goods, wares, and merchandise,” makes an exception to the
rule by allowing the benefit of drawback on goods exported to any foreign
port or place, situated to the westward or southward of Louisiana.

It is believed, that if the following regulations and conditions be prescribed,
to entitle goods transported to Santa Fe to the benefit of drawback,
the safety of the revenue will be equally as well protected in such trade as
in the case of goods exported to the westward or southward of Louisiana,
viz:

  1. The goods to be transported to Santa Fe in the original packages of
    importation, with the additional custom house mark put on them, “for
    Santa Fe.”

    4

  2. The goods to be accompanied by a certificate of the custom house
    officers at the port where purchased, specifying the marks, numbers, and
    contents, of the packages; value of articles paying ad valorem rates of
    duty—weight, gauge, or measure, of articles paying specific duties. Rates
    of duty, and amount of duties, and names of owners, given in separate
    columns, respectively, together with the name of the vessel of importation,
    the date of importation, and place where from.
  3. These certificates to be presented to the surveyor at St. Louis at the
    time of the arrival of the goods at that place, who is to examine the packages,
    and compare them with the certificates; and upon being satisfied that
    the contents of the packages are the same as they were at the time when,
    and the place where, purchased, he is to endorse and sign a certificate
    accordingly, on the certificate of the custom house officers, No. 2.
  4. A similar course to be pursued when the goods arrive at the town of
    Independence; for which, and for other purposes, it may be deemed expedient
    that that place may be made a port of entry, with a surveyor to
    reside thereat, with the same powers as those of the surveyors of the ports
    specified in the act of March 2, 1831.
  5. These several certificates to be presented to the consul of the United
    States at Santa Fe, on the arrival of the goods at that place, who is thereupon
    to examine the packages, and upon being satisfied upon evidence
    from the Mexican custom house officers that the contents thereof are the
    same as they were at the time and place of purchase is to give a certificate
    to the owner of the goods containing the following particulars: ‘I, A. B.,
    consul of the United States at Santa Fe, de hereby certify that the following
    packages have been brought to, and deposited in, the custom-house at
    this place by (here insert the name of the person by whom brought, and if
    he be not the owner, the name of such owner also); and that, upon examnation
    of them and upon evidence received from the Mexican custom house
    officers, they contain the identical goods which, according to the certificates
    of the custom house officers (here insert whether New York, Philadelphia,
    Baltimore, or New Orleans), were in them at the time when they left the
    said port of (here again insert New York, &c.), and that they were imported
    on the — day of — —, on board the —, viz:

    • Name of vessel of importation.
    • Date of importation.
    • From what place made.
    • Marks and numbers.
    • Contents.
    • Value of articles paying ad valorem duties.
    • Weight, gauge, or measure, &c., paying-specific duties.
    • Rates of duty.
    • Amount of duties.
    • Names of owners of goods.

    A. B., Consul of the U. S.

    SANTA FE, January, 1835.


    5

  6. The drawback to be paid to the owner of the goods or to his order,
    provided the duties on the same shall have been previously secured by the
    collector, on the presentation at the custom-house of the port or place where
    the goods were purchased, of the certificate issued thereto, together with the
    consular and other certificates, all of which certificates are thereupon to be
    cancelled by obliterating the signatures thereto, and are to accompany the
    account of the collector, in which a charge for the said drawback may be
    made, together with the receipt of the party to whom payment may be made.
  7. The certificates which may be issued by the consul of the United
    States at Santa Fe, to be regularly recorded by him in a book to be kept
    for that especial purpose.

The documents referred to me are returned herewith.

Respectfully,
JOS. ANDERSON.
Hon. LEVI WOODBURY,
Secretary of the Treasury.

C.
NEW ORLEANS, September 10, 1839.

SIR: The chamber of commerce of this city have had under consideration
the advantages which would result to the trade and revenue of the
United States by such modification of the revenue laws as would admit of
allowance of debenture on merchandise exported by land to countries west
of Louisiana. With the view of bringing this subject under the consideration
of the Government, they appointed a committee to draught a memorial to
Congress, praying that the revenue laws in relation to drawback and debentures
should be so modified, with such restrictions as may appear proper
and necessary, as to allow the export by land the same debenture now granted
on exports by sea. The committee being under an impression that it
was probably within the power of the Secretary of the Treasury, under the
laws of 1805, to permit the export of merchandise, for the benefit of drawback,
by steamboats, to countries lying west of Louisiana, respectfully submit
the subject to your consideration, previous to resorting to a memorial
on the subject, which might create more publicity than they deem judicious,
as the Mexican Government, with their jealousy toward our citizens, which
has already prohibited the importation of nearly every article of domestic
manufacture of the United States, might take more effective steps to prevent
their introduction through this, the only channel left. On reference, we
find the law of 1799 (section 75) prohibits the allowance of drawback on
goods exported to any foreign state immediately adjoining the United States;
and article 92 (same law) prohibits the allowance of drawback on goods
exported otherwise than by sea. The law of 1805 (section 2) amends, or
alters, the law of 1799, and allows the drawback on goods exported to ports
westward and southward of Louisiana, but says: “exported from the United
States, or district of Mississippi, in the manner prescribed by law.” Now,
whether it requires that the goods should positively go by sea beyond the
limits of the United States is to be decided; and, as many think that,
as the law says westward of Louisiana, it clearly admits of a consideration
that would grant the drawback, as, on reference to the map, a westward direction


6

will not reach the sea before striking the Pacific, thereby rendering
the present construction a nullity.

The subject has been more immediately brought to the notice of the
chamber of commerce of New Orleans, by the fact of the arrival recently
of a large caravan from the province of Chihuahua, at a point on Red river
above the raft, and thence by steam conveyance to this city, bringing a
large amount in bullion for investment in merchandise. Chihuahua being
one of the richest districts of Mexicon in valuable mineral productions, its
mines producing a large proportion of the precious metals exported from
Mexico; and, isolated as it is from direct communication with the ports on
the Pacific and on the bay of Mexico, you, sir, will readily perceive the importance
to the United States of securing a direct trade in bullion with that
and the adjoining provinces. The benefit of inland drawback would measurably,
if not entirely, direct that trade by the Red river route instead of the
circuitons one through the Mexican ports on the bay.

This will more readily appear by a comparison of the distances from
Chihuahua to the following places and the cost of transportation from
them, respectively; and also a view of the heavy charges and duty payable
on bullion before exportation:

The distance from Chihuahua to Matamoras is 1,200 miles; cost of transportation
$17 per 100 pounds.

The distance from Chihuahua to Tampico is 1,400 miles; cost of transportation
$23 23 per 100 pounds.

The distance from Chihuahua to Vera Cruz is 1,600 miles; cost of transportation
$25 per 100 pounds.

The distance from Chihuahua to the city of Mexico is 1,200 miles; cost
of transportation $16 per 100 pounds.

The distance from Chihuahua to Shreveport, on Red river, is 800 miles.

The distance from Chihuahua to Santa Fe is 600 miles.

The distance from Chihuahua to Quaymas, Pacific, is 500 miles.

This route is considered impracticable for transportation. From Santa
Fe to St. Louis, Missouri the distance is computed to be 1,400 miles. The
laws of Mexico prohibit the exportation of bullion: it is subject to 5 per cent.
for assaying; coinage at Government Mint 5 per cent.; export duty on
dollars 3-1/2 per cent.; making 13-1/2 per cent. to which bullion is subject before
it can be legally exported through the Mexican ports.

Requesting the favor of an early reply, I am, respectfully, your obedient
servant,

J. W. ZACHARIE,
Chairman, Committee N. O. Chamber of Commerce.
Hon. LEVI WOODBURY,
Secretary of the Treasury.

D.
TREASURY DEPARTMENT, September 27, 1839.

SIR: I am in the receipt of your letter of the 10th inst., in behalf of the
committee appointed by the chamber of commerce of the city of New Orleans
to make inquiry upon the subject of exporting merchandise (entitled
to debenture) “by land to countries west of Louisiana,” &c.


7

In answer to your inquiry, whether it is “within the power of the Secretary
of the Treasury under the law of 1805 to permit the export of merchandise
for benefit of drawback by steamboats to countries lying west of
Louisiana,” to wit, “to be carried by steamboats from New Orleans to a
point on the Red river, and from thence by land across the country to the
province of Chihuahua in Mexico.” I would remark, that the department,
on due examination of the subject, does not consider itself authorized under
the existing laws, regulating the manner in which goods shall be exported,
to entitle them to drawback, to sanction the arrangement proposed. In this
opinion the Comptroller of the Treasury also concurs.

To accomplish the object desired by the chamber of commerce, some
change or modification of the existing laws by Congress must first take
place, and the subject has already been before that body for several years,
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

LEVI WOODBURY,
Secretary of the Treasury.
J. W. ZACHARIE, Esq.,
Chairman, Com. Chamber of Commerce, New Orleans.

E.
NEW ORLEANS, October 8, 1839.

SIR: Your letter of the 27th ultimo in reply to mine of the 10th of September,
has been duly received, and on referring it to the chamber, several
of the members are under the impression that the question has not been
properly put to you, whether goods shipped per steamboat to a foreign country,
that is, to Jonesborough or Pecan Point, on the Red river, in Texas,
without being landed at any intermediate point of the United States, could
not be entitled to drawback.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. W. ZACHARIE,
Chairman, Committee of the New Orleans
Chamber of Commerce.

Hon. LEVI WOODBURY,
Secretary of the Treasury.

F.
TREASURY DEPARTMENT, October 30, 1839.

SIR: Your letter of the 8th instant, in explanation of the inquiry submitted
in your former communication of the 10th ultimo, was duly received.

The inquiry now proposed by you, in behalf of the chamber of commerce
of New Orleans, is, “whether goods shipped per steamboat to a foreign
country, that is, to Jonesborough or Pecan Point, on the Red river, in
Texas, without being landed at any intermediate point of the United States,
could not be entitled to drawback.”


8

You will perceive, by the accompanying copy of a letter from the Department
of State, that, owing to the boundary line between the United
States and Texas not having yet been surveyed and marked, it cannot be
determined, at this time, whether the places mentioned in your letter are
embraced within the limits of the United States, or of Texas.

Under these circumstances, the department does not feel justified in the
expression of an opinion as to the right of drawback on goods shipped to
either of the places mentioned.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

LEVI WOODBURY,
Secretary of the Treasury.
J. W. ZACHARIE, Esq.,
Chairman of the Committee of
the Chamber of Commerce, New Orleans.

DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
October 25, 1839.

SIR: In answer to the inquiry in your letter of yesterday, I have to refer
you to the treaty with Mexico, according to the stipulations of which,
the boundary between the United States and Texas is to be defined and
marked. As that boundary has not yet been surveyed, it is not in the
power of the department to say at what point the due north line, from the
intersection of the Sabine river with the thirty-second parallel of latitude,
will strike the Red river, nor, consequently, whether Pecan Point and Jonesborough
will, when the line is surveyed and marked, be left within our
limits, or those of Texas. By the arrangement between the United States
and Texas, however, all places, over which we have heretofore exercised
jurisdiction, are to be deemed within our territory until the boundary line
is run and marked.

I am, sir, respectfully, your obedient servant,

JOHN FORSYTH,
Hon. LEVI WOODBURY,
Secretary of the Treasury.



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