Newman v. Arthur - 109 U.S. 132 (1883)


U.S. Supreme Court

Newman v. Arthur, 109 U.S. 132 (1883)

Newman v. Arthur

Argued October 24, 1893

Decided November 5, 1883

109 U.S. 132

Syllabus

1. The rule that where words are used in an act imposing duties upon imports, which have acquired by commercial use a meaning different from their ordinary meaning, the latter may be controlled by the former is not applicable when the language used in the statute is unequivocal.

2. The fact that at the date of the passage of an act imposing duties, goods of a certain kind had not been manufactured does not withdraw them from the class to which they belong when the language of the statute clearly and fairly includes them.

This action was brought to recover money alleged to have been illegally exacted by the collector of customs at the port of New York and paid under protest. There was a verdict and judgment in favor of the defendant below, to reverse which this writ of error is prosecuted. The importations were made in 1875 and consisted of cotton goods, upon which the collector assessed a duty of five and a half cents a square yard, and twenty percent ad valorem. The plaintiff at the time of the liquidation claimed that the goods were liable to a duty of only thirty-five percent ad valorem as manufactures of cotton not otherwise provided for. It was proven on the trial that goods like those in question

Page 109 U. S. 133

were first manufactured in Manchester, England, in 1868 or 1869, they being then a new article of manufacture, and were first introduced into this country in 1869 or 1870. They have been known since their first introduction into this country in trade and commerce by the name of cotton Italians, and used exclusively for coat linings. The importations in question were wholly of cotton, and dyed black in the piece, after being woven, and were made in imitation of a well known article called Italian cloth, made of wool, and used for lining woolen coats. The surface of the cotton Italians was by some process of weaving and calendering made smooth and glossy like that of the real Italians. Plain woolen goods are those in which the warp and woof threads cross each other at right angles.

Cotton Italians are not plain woven, but are twilled goods, and had upon them figures of different designs made in weaving. The cotton Italians in question had more than one hundred threads and less than two hundred threads to the square inch, counting the warp and filling, and were less in weight than five ounces to the square yard, and did not exceed in value twenty-five cents to a square yard. Plaintiff's counsel gave evidence tending to show that the number of threads to the square inch in plaintiff's importations could not be counted without unraveling the goods.

The plaintiff's counsel asked the plaintiff, who was duly sworn as a witness in the cause, the following question: "Are the goods bought and sold of the count of the number of threads?"

The defendant's counsel objected to the question as immaterial. The court sustained the objection, and plaintiff's counsel duly excepted.

The plaintiff's counsel then offered to prove by the witness that goods like those in question were never known in trade and commerce in this country as countable goods, or so bought and sold.

The defendant's counsel objected to the evidence as immaterial. The court sustained the objection, and plaintiff's counsel duly excepted. Plaintiff's counsel then offered to show

Page 109 U. S. 134

that prior to 1861, and ever since, there have been in trade and commerce in this country a great variety of cotton cloths known as countable goods, and which were bought and sold by the number of threads in the warp and filling, which number of threads were ascertainable by a glass and without taking the fabric to pieces. The defendant's counsel objected to the question as immaterial. The court sustained the objection, and plaintiff's counsel duly excepted. The plaintiff's counsel then asked the witness the following question:

"Was the value of cotton Italians partially or wholly determined, between the manufacturer and the purchaser, according to the number of threads to the square inch?"

To this question defendant's counsel objected as immaterial. The court sustained the objection, and plaintiff's counsel duly excepted.

It was conceded that plaintiff's goods were neither cotton jeans, denims, drillings, bed tickings, ginghams, plaids, cottonades, nor pantaloon stuff, nor goods of like description to them or either of them, nor for similar use.

Among others, not necessary here to refer to, the following instruments were requested by the counsel for the plaintiff in error, which the court refused to give, and to which exception was duly taken, viz.,

"3d. That if the number of threads to the square inch in plaintiff's goods, counting the warp and filling, cannot be counted without taking the goods to pieces, then the plaintiff is entitled to recover."

"5th. That cotton Italians, being a new manufacture and unknown here and abroad when the act of 1864 was passed, they were not specifically enumerated, and the presumption, until rebutted, is that they come under the general provision of manufactures not otherwise provided for. "

Page 109 U. S. 135



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