Knight v. Schell
65 U.S. 526

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U.S. Supreme Court

Knight v. Schell, 65 U.S. 24 How. 526 526 (1860)

Knight v. Schell

65 U.S. (24 How.) 526


When barrels are manufactured in the United States and shipped empty to Cuba, there filled with molasses, and brought back to the United States, the duty must be levied upon the value of the barrels, as well as upon the molasses. This conclusion rests upon the following reasons: molasses barrels, under such circumstances, have been applied to the commercial use for which they were manufactured, and on their reimportation here, even if fit for a second voyage, seldom or never have the same value as when new. When filled in the foreign market, reimported here, and offered at the custom house for entry, they have then acquired a new character within the meaning of the revenue laws. With their contents they are then denominated packages, from which one in ten must be selected and ordered to the public stores for appraisement, and as such constitute a part of the charges of importation.

The acts of Congress, and the uniform interpretation placed on them by the Treasury Department, require this to be done.

The question was, whether barrels manufactured in the United States and exported empty to Cuba, and afterwards brought back to the United States filled with molasses purchased in Cuba, were brought back "in the same condition as when exported," according to the true intent and meaning of the acts of Congress in that behalf.

On which question the opinions of the judges were opposed.

Wherefore, on motion of the plaintiffs' counsel, at the same term, it is ordered that the point on which the disagreement hath happened be stated, under the direction of the judges, and certified under the seal of this Court to the supreme court to be finally decided, and that the foregoing state of the pleadings,

Page 65 U. S. 527

and the following statement of facts, which is made under the direction of the judges, be certified according to the request of the defendant, by his counsel, and the law in that case made and provided.

It was proved on the trial that the plaintiffs, in the year 1859, imported from Matanzas 728 barrels of molasses by the brig Irene; 301 barrels of molasses by a vessel called the Yumuri; and 120 barrels of molasses by a vessel called the Trovatore; that the barrels containing the molasses were manufactured by the plaintiffs at Newburg, in the State of New York, and shipped from the port of New York empty to Matanzas, where they were filled with molasses, and returned in the three vessels above named to the port of New York; that said barrels were made up and completed in every respect before they were shipped to Cuba. They were returned, most of them, in the same vessels that carried them out from New York, and all of them in the same condition in which they were shipped or carried out from New York, except being filled with molasses.

They were filled with molasses at Cuba. When these barrels were brought back from Cuba filled with molasses in the vessels above referred to, the collector claimed that the barrels themselves were dutiable, and that they were not entitled to entry duty free. He claimed a duty upon them at the rate of 24 percentum of their value at Cuba, and refused to allow them to be entered unless such duty was paid; that the plaintiffs paid to the defendant that portion of the said duties which was upon the separate value of said barrels under protest, claiming that said barrels were not legally subject to the payment of any duty, but were exempt from duty by virtue of the provisions of the 47th section of the act of Congress of March 2, 1799, and of Schedule I of the existing tariff.

The plaintiffs thereupon, having complied in all respects with the provisions of section fifth of the Act of March 3, 1857, entitled "An act reducing the duties on imports, and for other purposes," brought this action to recover back the sum so paid under protest, as duties upon said separate value of said barrels,

Page 65 U. S. 528

within the time prescribed in said act for bringing the same.

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