U.S. Supreme Court
Saxonville Mills v. Russell, 116 U.S. 13 (1885)
Saxonville Mills v. Russell
Argued December 4, 1885
Decided December 14, 1885
116 U.S. 13
The proviso in § 7 of the Act of March 3, 1865, 13 Stat. 491, 494, "That the duty shall not be assessed upon an amount less than the invoice or entered value," and the like proviso in § 9 of the Act of July 28, 1866, 14 Stat. 328, 330, are applicable to the valuation of wools for the purpose of determining the rate of duty chargeable upon them under the acts of March 2, 1867, 14 Stat. 559, and June 6, 1872, 17 Stat. 230.
In construing a tariff revenue system, consisting of numerous acts enacted at different times, each alteration is to be regarded in connection with the system, and existing legislative rules of general application are not to be disturbed beyond the clear intention of Congress.
This was an action brought by the plaintiff in error to recover duties on certain importations of wool, alleged to have been illegally assessed, in which judgment was rendered for the defendant. It was brought here for review by writ of error.
In the circuit court, judgment was rendered upon an agreed statement of facts, set out in the record, as follows:
"The plaintiff, in August, 1873, imported into the port of Boston from Rosario, by the bark Velox, three hundred and twenty-four bales of unwashed Cordova wool and entered it in bond. It subsequently withdrew the same for consumption. The defendant, as collector of customs, assessed and exacted of the plaintiff a duty of six cents per pound less ten percent on this wool upon the appraisement as hereinafter set forth. The plaintiff claimed that this wool was only legally liable to a duty of three cents per pound less ten percent, and paid the extra three cents per pound under due protest, and seasonably appealed to the Secretary of the Treasury, who affirmed the decision and action of the defendant. In due time and in conformity to law, plaintiff brought this action to recover the extra three cents per pound less ten percent. The pleadings may
be referred to. * As it appears by the invoice, this wool was bought in Rosario on the 28th day of March, 1873, and was shipped at Rosario on board the Velox for Boston on the 5th day of June, 1873, and the invoice was sworn to before the acting United States consul on the 9th day of June, 1873. Rosario was the last port from whence it was exported to the United
States, and it was invoiced there and entered at the custom house in Boston at the price paid for it in the currency and weight in which it was bought, which, upon being reduced to United States currency and weight, showed the cost to be above twelve cents per pound. Between the time of purchase and the time of shipment and exportation to the United States, the market value or wholesale price of this wool fell at Rosario, and at the time and place of shipment and exportation to the United States the market value or wholesale price was less than twelve cents per pound, excluding charges in such port or place. The acting United States consul made under his official seal the following certificate upon the invoice, which is objected to by the defendant as incompetent and immaterial:"
"U.S. CONSULATE, ROSARIO, June 10, 1873"
"I, Thomas B. Wood, acting United States consul for Rosario, do hereby certify, after investigation, that the market value of unwashed Cordova wool at this place at the date of shipment of the annexed invoice was thirty-two to thirty-two and one-half Bolivian reals, equivalent to [from] 24 38/100 to 24 76/100 reals fuerta per arroba net weight."
"Given under my hand and seal this day."
"THOMAS B. WOOD"
"Acting U.S. Consul"
"Which, being reduced to United States weight and currency, shows a value per pound less than twelve cents at Rosario. In conformity with law and Treasury regulations, upon entry of
this merchandise by the plaintiff, the proper number of designated packages thereof were sent to the public store, and this invoice was sent by the defendant as collector to the United States appraiser for his examination, appraisement, and report. The appraiser, after examination, made on the invoice the following report, and returned the same to the collector, as and for his appraisement, from which no appeal was claimed or taken to merchant appraiser: 'Wool, class 3, dutiable at invoice value six cents per pound, less ten percent,' said report bearing date August 28, 1873, and upon this appraisement the collector assessed and exacted the duty as aforesaid. It is admitted and agreed, if it be material and competent, that the appraiser made the said report to the collector as and for his appraisement, believing that he had no legal right to appraise the wool at less than the invoice value, although in fact he believed the true market value of said wool at the last port or place whence exported to the United States at the time of exportation, excluding charges thereat, was less than twelve cents per pound. The plaintiff contended that this was not a legal or sufficient appraisement. The defendant, as collector, exacted the duty of six cents per pound, less ten percent, upon the ground that whatever the market value or wholesale price of this wool might have been in Rosario at the time of shipment and exportation, inasmuch as the invoice showed the value to be above twelve cents per pound, it was legally liable to the duty exacted. This wool was of the third class named in the first section of the Act of March 2, 1867, 14 Stat. 560, which provides"
"That upon wools of the third class, the value whereof at the last port or place whence exported to the United States, excluding charges in such port, shall be twelve cents or less per pound, the duty shall be three cents per pound. Upon wools of the same class, the value whereof at the last port or place whence exported to the United States, including charges in such port, shall exceed twelve cents per pound, the duty shall be six cents per pound."
"If the court shall be of opinion upon the foregoing facts that said duty was illegally assessed and exacted of the plaintiff, then judgment shall be entered for the plaintiff for an amount
equal to one-half of the duties paid in gold, with interest, to be ascertained by an assessor to be appointed by the court, and costs. On the contrary, if the court shall be of opinion that the duty was properly assessed and exacted, judgment shall be entered for the defendant, with costs."