U.S. Supreme Court
Greenleaf v. Goodrich, 101 U.S. 278 (1879)
Greenleaf v. Goodrich
101 U.S. 278
1. In 1882 and 1863, A. imported into the port of Boston certain goods upon which the collector imposed, and A. under protest paid, a duty of thirty percent ad valorem under the mixed-material clause of the Act of March 2, 1861, 12 Stat. 192, and of two cents per square yard under the ninth section of the act of July 14; 1862. Id., 553. A., claiming that under the act of 1862 the goods were subject only to an ad valorem duty of thirty percent, brought suit to recover the difference. It appeared in evidence that the goods were known in trade and were bought and sold as poil de chevres, reps, plaids, lustres, Saxony dress goods ; that they were always woven in colors, the yarns being dyed or colored before weaving; that they never existed in the gray or uncolored condition, but were made as delaines are made, with a cotton warp and a worsted weft, the difference between them and delaines being that the latter are a fabric of all-wool, or cotton warp and worsted weft, made of yarns not dyed, the cloth being printed or dyed in the piece; that as early as 1857, both the all-wool delaines and those with cotton warp and wool or worsted filling were known in trade by names changing from time to time, to suit the fancy of importers and purchasers. It also appeared that in several other particulars A.'s goods differed from delaines. The court charged the jury that, in addition to the duty of thirty percent ad valorem imposed by the act of 1861, the act of 1862
"imposed a specific duty on all delaines, whether colored or uncolored, and all goods of similar description to delaines, whether colored or uncolored, if such delaines or goods of similar description do not exceed in value forty cents a square yard,"
and that it was for them to determine whether A.'s goods were "similar in description to these delaines, whether they are colored or uncolored." Held that the instruction was proper.
2. The changes of classification and phraseology made in the act of 1862 show an intention to take out of the mixed-material clause of the act of 1861 (which was limited to manufactures not otherwise provided for) some descriptions of goods which the act placed there, and, by transferring them to another class, subject them to the additional duty prescribed for that class.
3. The phrase "of similar description" is not a commercial term, and the tariff acts do not contemplate that goods classed under it shall be in all respects the same.
The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.