The original enactment concerning transportation of passengers, the Act of June 19, 1886, c. 421, sec. 8, 24 Stat. 81, imposed a fine of $2 for every passenger carried between United States ports on a foreign vessel. Shortly thereafter, by the Act of February 17, 1898, c. 26, sec. 2, 30 Stat. 248, 46 U.S.C.A. § 289, this was amended to make it unlawful to transport passengers from one United States port to another either directly or by way of a foreign port, and to increase the penalty to $200 per passenger so carried. The aim of the amending enactment can well be inferred. In view of the great increase in penalty and the provision that indirect as well as direct transportation should warrant a fine, it can be inferred that the Congress sought to meet the increasing threats to the practical monopoly of coastwise and domestic shipping which was to be preserved for United States ships.
The various Attorneys General of the United States have interpreted the act several times in the course of its administration. A fair summary of their interpretations is that the design of Congress was to exclude ships of foreign registry from carrying on coastwise or other domestic traffic by direct or indirect carriage of passengers from one United States port to another.
The question then is, whether the transportation in this instance comes within the spirit as well as the letter of the law. Particular opinions of the Attorneys General furnish some guidance in this respect.
It has been declared violative of the act to transport passengers from Philadelphia to Boston for a convention and return by way of foreign ports, with stopover privileges, where the primary purpose was deemed to have been transportation to the convention in Boston. 34 Op.Atty.Gen. 340. Likewise, it has been declared a violation to transport passengers from an insular possession of the United States to a United States port. 30 Op.Atty.Gen. 44.
It has been declared not to be a violation of the act to transport passengers from New York to San Francisco, when the discharge at San Francisco followed an extended world cruise and was deemed incidental thereto. The Cleveland, 28 Op.Atty. Gen. 204. It is largely on the basis of this opinion that the instant fine is objected to.
Referring to this opinion, Attorney General Wickersham in a later opinion, 29 Op.Atty.Gen. 318, 322, said; "In the case of the Cleveland the transportation came within the letter of the statute, since the tourists were actually transported from one port in the United States to another port therein, via a foreign port or ports. But that case was held not to be within the spirit of the statute, because the real object of the voyage was the trip around the world."
The object in the transportation of the passengers on the Granada was to afford them a cruise to a foreign port, not to engage in commerce between United States ports. The contract called for a voyage from New York to a foreign port and return to New York. That it was neither the aim nor the desire of the passengers to be transported to Philadelphia is evidenced by their immediate entrainment for New York upon being discharged at Philadelphia.
It is, of course, an inescapable fact that the Granada, a foreign vessel, carried passengers from New York to Philadelphia by way of a foreign port. However, I cannot see how this transportation was detrimental to the coastwise monopoly sought to be assured to United States vessels. Nor can I see how this transportation fits within the spirit of the act as reasonably interpreted.
The fear has been voiced that a decision favorable to the Granada will provide a basis for the gradual erection of a commercial structure sought to be excluded by the act. I recognize this danger, but declare that, if related to the pertinent facts, this decision can not be utilized to support evasions of the act.
The libel should be dismissed.
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