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one year of supplies for the Lawrence, and for any other vessel that may be assigned to the revenue service. I have advertised for proposals for furnishing provisions, but cannot take the responsibility of entering into a contract at the present prices. It would be an immense saving to the
gov. emment to despatch forth with an ample supply from the Atlantic.
I presume that no proposal will be offered at less than $50 or $60 per barrel for pork, and not less than $30 per barrel for flour. Under these circumstances, I must purchase a temporary supply, and wait your instrtections upon the subject. You are aware that the duties collected on this coast have been hitherto collected under military authority, and that the money has been paid over to the pay and quartermaster's departments. I have already been inquired of, whether I would cash the drafts of these departments. This I cannot do without your instructions. Situated as I am, I should like to be relieved from the responsibility of retaining the money in my hands for any considerable length of time. The duties will amount to a large sum; and I lave no secure or safe place of keeping it. There is another subject to which I desire to call your attention that of the establishment of a marine hospital. Almost daily applications are made for relief or assistance by sick and disabled seamen. I do not know anything that I can do without your instructions. A suitable building, even could one be procured, could not be rented for any reasonable sum. And yet humanity requires that this class should be provided for. A phy. sician could not be procured by the offer of three times the present fees.
I had hoped to have found on my arrival letters from the department, bu was disappointed. It is extremely difficult to institute and carry on a suit commenced against a vessel seized for violating the revenue laws. Two seizures have been made since I took possession of the office. These suits are to be instituted in Oregon or Louisiana. How is process to be served? Can the marshal in either district serve process without special authority to do so by act of Congress? Can he appoint a deputy for California ? It seems to me that great difficulty will be found in car. rying out the law in this particular. The act of Congress making California a collection district requires the Secretary of the Treasury to establish a port of delivery as near as may be to the junction of the rivers Gila and Colorado, at the head of the gulf of California. The establishment of such an office I do not consider as at all practicable. The Colorado will never, in my opinion, become navigable to the point. It is far off from civilization, on the borders of the great desert, and in the midst of numerous tribes of Indians. The line between the United States and Mexico will not be more than tivo or three miles from the junction of the rivers. The valley of the Gila is utterly worthless, and I would not take a deed of the whole country to-morrow. It is true that here and there a spot may be found susceptible of cultivation, but they are “ few and far
I presume that no white man could be found willing to be. come deputy collector in a port where a fleg would never flutter. I have had possession of this office but two days, and have hardly yet recovered from the toils of my long and weary pilgrimage. What I have written has been done in great haste. The early departure of the steamer, however, will be my excuse. I beg you to be assured that this port is of the first importance to the country, and deserves, and will no doubt receive, the prompt attention of the department.
In the discharge of the responsibilities of this office, I may, and no doubt shall, commit many errors. Situated as I am, without the aid of courts, and remote from Washington, I shall be called upon to exercise discretionary powers. The rights of our countrymen and the interests of commerce seem to require it. I hope to so discharge the trust confided to me as to secure your approval. By the next steamer I hope to address you, if not more fully, at least with less haste.
Before closing this communication, permit me to say that the articles directed to be shipped from New York for this office have not as yet arrived. I have, consequently, been compelled to purchase such books as were to be provided here. They are not, however, what they ought to be. May I ask you to have forwarded without delay, by the steamer, a supply of sea-letters for vessels, coasting licenses for vessels both under and above 20 tons, both for steam and sail vessels, registers and records for vessels, crew lists, and two dozen copies of the tariff of 1846. The price of printing here is enormous, and I must look to the department for à supply. Since writing the foregoing, I have to add that I caused the publication of notice in the papers in this city soliciting proposals for supplies for the revenue service. I enclose copies of two that have been received, in order that you may the better judge what course should be pursued, and of the propriety of my purchasing temporary supplies, looking to a declire in present prices. Very respectfully, yours,
J. COLLIER, Collector. Hon. W. M. MEREDITH,
Secretary of the Treasury.
San Francisco, November 13, 1849. Sir: The undersigned, merchants of the port of San Francisco, Upper California, take leave to congratulate you on your safe arrival at this port, and whilst, for the better protection of their interests in lawful trade, they ask of you the strict enforcement of the revenue laws of the United States of America, they also desire that the usual facilities afforded to their fellow merchants on the Atlantic coast shall likewise be extended to them, particularly the warehousing system in public stores.
The very fact that San Francisco is daily becoming the grand depot for the whole trade of the Pacific ocean, is sufficient evidence that their wants imperatively demand of our government warehouses for bonded goods. The undersigned are, sir, your most obedient servants,
MELLUS, HOWARD,' & Co.,
THOMAS O. LARKIN,
MACONDRAY & CO.
Collector of the port of San Francisco, U. C.
CUSTOM-HOUSE, SAN FRANCISCO,
November 29, 1849. Sir: The departure of the steamer so soon after my assuming the duties of this office, prevented me from calling your attention to several important questions which I had been called up in to decide, and which I now beg leave to submit to your consideration.
Prerious to my arrival, the then collector, acting under the instructions of the military commander, from whom he received his appointment, with the sanction of Commodore Jones, the commander-in-chief of the naval forces on the Pacific, had issued licenses to foreign vessels to engage in the coasting trade in the bay of San Francisco and its tributaries. This practice was introduced, as they claim, from necessity. There were but few American vessels in the bay or on the coast, and the large number of persons employed at the mines looked to this port alone for their supplies. In order to afford them relies, this practice was introduced. On assuming the duties of the office, I revoked all the licenses granted to foreign ressels to engage in the coasting trade, and have refused to grant licenses to all vessels other than American. This has been the subject of complaint on the part of some Arnerican citizens who have purchased foreign vessels with the expectation that the former practice would be continued. Upon this subject I received a letter from Commodore Jones, a copy of which, marked A, together with my reply, marked B, I herewith enclose. I think I am right, and shall carry out the law, as I understand it, mitil I am otherwise directed. Another practice, as I suppose, in direct violation of law, had been sanctioned and approved of by the sanie authority—that of permitting brandy and other spirituous liquors to be imported in bottles and cases of less quantity than fifteen gallons. The law, as I suppose, was violated in two particulars: First. According to my understanding, brandy can only be imported in “casks of a capacity mot less than fifteen gallons.” By importing in bottles of less capacity they violate that law, and escape the duty also upon the bottles.
if I am right, and I shall act upon that supposition until otherwise advised) the vessels and cargoes are forfeited for an infraction of the law in that particular.
Still another practice prevailed here—that of permitting French vessels, for instance, clearing from a port in France for San Francisco, and taking on board a part of their cargo at Valparaiso, the product of the latter country, to enter. This I have supposed to be contrary to law.
I desire to call your attention to a case where I felt called upon to seize a vessel having a valuable cargo on board. The facts are as follows: The British barque Collooney cleared from this port on the 6th of August for Vancouver's island, within the possessions of Great Britain; from thence she went to Puget's sound in Oregon, within our waters and the jurisdiction of this collection district, took on board a quantity of lumber, the product of the United States, and left that port without a clearance, and proceeded to Fort Victoria, Vancouver's island, taking on board the product of the British possessions to complete her cargo, and from thence sailed for this port, where she arrived a few days since.
She brings with her a clearance from Fort Victoria, purporting to be signed by Mr. Douglass as factor for the Hudson's Bay Company. The papers are without seal, though purporting to be attested. I have assumed that the Hudson's Bay Company, through their agent or otherwise, have not the power to receive or collect duties, grant clearances, or to do any other act relative to the revenue laws of Great Britain; that the power to collect duties, &c., is an act of sovereignty, and cannot be delegated to a corporation; and that if it be true, as is claimed, that the factor of that company is in fact the collector, commissioned by his government, he must act in that capacity, and not as factor of the Hudson's Bay Company. Taking this view of it, I determined that this vessel was engaged in the coasting trade contrary to law; that she sailed from an American port with the product of the United States, and entered an American port with that cargo. I have treated the papers purporting to be signed by Mr. Douglass, as factor of that corporation, as nugatory, and decided that the voyage from Oregon to this port was a continuous voyage. I beg leave to call your attention to this case, and ask that I may be fully instructed as to the position and powers of the Hudson's Bay Company in that particular. They assume high powers, and have had heretofore almost the entire control of everything in this distant region. The rapidly increasing business of Oregon, especially in the lumber trade, (lumber being worth this day in this city $450 per thousand) requires full instructions upon this and like cases. May I ask, as in a former letter, for instructions also as to the course to be pursued to bring this case, as well as other cases of seizure, before the court in Oregon or Louisiana.
I have been called upon to decide another question which seems to have caused the Californians some trouble. Prior to the ratification of the treaty of peace with Mexico, and while California was within her dominion, vessels had been built, and were engaged in the coasting trade, &c. During cur military occupation, vessels were also built for like purposes. It is claimed that by the provisions of the treaty these vessels have become natura'ized, and are to be regarded as American; and entitled to all the privileges of American ships. I have decided otherwise, and regarded California as a foreign territory until the ratification of the treaty. If I am correct, then there will be an immediate necessity for the action of Congress, as in the case of Louisiana and Florida., In looking to the future, it is hardly possible to anticipate the destiny of California. There is something so peculiar in her present position, that I cannot refrain from offering you my views and opinions; and in doing so, I trust they will be taken with all allowances, and as the opinion of one whose views are based in a great degree upon first impressions. Her position is peculiar in the first place from the fact that here, labor controls capiral. In other words, the mechanic and artisan fixes his own price, and the capitalist is compell. ed from necessity to submit to that price, whatever it may be. The pressing wants of the thousands now in the country, and the anticipated wants of those on their way hither, and their name is legion,) require the immediate construction and erection of buildings to shelter them. Hence the car. penter charges and receives from $12 to $17 per day, and other mechanics in the same ratio. Rents are consequently at such rates as startle a sober, sedate man; and this state of things must continue for a long time to come. Her position is peculiar in another respect. California now is, and for all time to come must be, essentially commercial. There is gold in California. She is rich in mineral wealth: that is a “fixed fact.” The extent of her resources is not known, it is true, and time and science can only ascertain the value of the precious metals in her mountains and valleys. So long as the search for gold shall continue, just so long will agriculture be neglected. It will not pay, for the obvious reason that labor will command higher prices than can be paid for growing grain. For these and for various other reasons her commercial interest will be the great interest of the State. Owing to the many advantages which San Francisco possesses over all other ports on the Pacific, it must become to the nation what New York is to the Atlantic. This very fact will keep up the present high prices for labor and building materials. It is impossible to estimate the extent to which her commerce may reach. It is now large, and it will be constantly on the increase. These facts are stated for the double purpose of putting you in possession of what may be anticipated from duties, and of impressing upon Congress the necessity of doing something-doing much for California, and that without delay. The responsibilities that rest upon the collector, in the absence of any legal tribunal, any legal adviser, to which he might resort for redress or advice, weigh heavily upon me. My derision may almost be regarded as final, owing to the absence of a tribunal to which resort might be had for revision. In another respect, also, are the responsibilities of a graver character. It becomes a matter of absolute necessity on the part of the collector to appoint subordinates, and to place them immediately upon duty, without waiting for the approval of the Secretary, as required by law. Men resort to the custom-house for temporary employment, and for that only. They will continue only just so long as is necessary to seek something more profitable. An instance has occurred this morning to illustrate this. I have a clerk acting as cashier, to whom I was compelled to pay (what you might regard as a high salary) $3,000 per annum. He was offered from a banking-house $5,000, with the promise of a future interest, and has consequently given notice that he should leave the office.
The situation of the bay, there being no wharves, renders it necessary for Tessels to anchor some distance from the shore, and goods are landed by lighters and omall boats, employed for that purpose. This, together with the fact that the high price of storage, three dollars per month per barrel, and the price of drayage, three or four dollars per load, either induces or compels ihe owners or consignees to keep their cargoes on board, (the same being bonded,) and consequently an officer must remain for some. times weeks, perhaps months, on board ;-this will account for the large number of inspectors. Nor can this be avoided until the department authorize the leasing of warehouses. Under these circumstances, is it too much to ask that the collector of this district be vested with discretionary power, not only as to salaries, but as to the appointment of subordinate officers? There must be some law or authority of this sort, or the col. lector will be involved in difficulty. Upon the subject of salaries, I need