Martin van Buren photo

Special Message

March 09, 1840

To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States:

I transmit to Congress, for their consideration, copies and translations of a correspondence between the Secretary of State and the Spanish legation, growing out of an application on the part of Spain for a reduction of tonnage duty on her vessels in certain cases.

By a royal order issued on the 29th of April, 1832, by the King of Spain, in consequence of a representation made to his Government by the minister of the United States against the discriminating tonnage duty then levied in the ports of Spain upon American vessels, said duty was reduced to 1 real de vellon, equal to 5 cents, per ton, without reference to the place from whence the vessel came, being the same rate as paid by those of all other nations, including Spain.

By the act approved on the 13th of July, 1832, a corresponding reduction of tonnage duty upon Spanish vessels in ports of the United States was authorized, but confined to vessels coming from ports in Spain; in consequence of which said reduction has been applied to such Spanish vessels only as came directly from ports in the Spanish Peninsula.

The application of the Spanish Government is for the extension of the provisions of the act to vessels coming from other places, and I submit for the consideration of Congress whether the principle of reciprocity would not justify it in regard to all vessels owned in the Peninsula and its dependencies of the Balearic and Canary islands. and coming from all places other than the islands of Cuba, Porto Rico, and the Philippine, and the repayment of such duties as may have been levied upon Spanish vessels of that class which have entered our ports since the act of 1832 went into operation.


Martin van Buren, Special Message Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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