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Maritime laws of England and the United States.

Mr. W. S. Lindsey, a member of the British Parliament and a large ship owner, who has come to this country to argue some important changes in the maritime laws of the two countries, has made an extensive tour through the business towns of this continent, from New York to Buffalo, Cleveland, Chicago, Quebec and Montreal. On Saturday afternoon he addressed the Board of Trade of Philadelphia, and stated that the great matters upon which an understanding between the two countries is desirable, is the satisfactory adjustment of the responsibility upon ships in case of collision at see; the right of way; the respective rights of masters and men; the regulation of the coasting trade and reciprocal enjoyment of it. He had wondered why it was that no settlement of these questions had ever been made, and that between two such important commercial countries an understanding of mutual advantage had never been arrived at.

Mr. Lindsey referred to the city of Chicago, where the exports of grain this year will reach fifty millions of bushels, while the entire exports and imports of the city would make up two hundred and fifty millions of dollars. A large amount of the enormous grain trade goes down the shores of the vast inland seas and through the ship canals. But the American law directs that this grain, however much wanted on any part of its own shores, should only be sent away in American vessels, whilst the laws of Canada enjoin that the coasting trade of that country cannot be done by American bottoms. These laws, operating alike to the disadvantage of both countries, Mr. Lindsey aptly compared to two men tying each others right arms together and working only with their left hands. In 1812, England passed a law that none but English ships should carry English products, while American law prohibits English ships from carrying American products; but both countries soon discovered the injury of these laws and abolished them. Canada sometime since increased the duties not only upon American produce and manufactures, but raised her tariff against English produce also. Mr. Lindsey said he had conversed with the prominent Canadian officials upon this subject, and they had expressed a willingness, at any time that the U. States were prepared for mutual concession, to throw down all barriers, and yield the free navigation of the St. Lawrence and the entry of the Canadian ports to American coasters, to improve the navigation of her ship canals, and to reduce the taxes upon American produce and manufactures.

Mr. Lindsey stated that in 1850, England threw open her ports to the entire world, and she had been by all calculations a gainer.--The official value of British produce and manufactures exported during ten years of strict protection were, in 1804, £22,000,000, in 1814, £32,000,000, showing an increase in these ten years of ten millions of pounds sterling. These dates were just previous to the period when England entered into its first commercial treaty with the United States, and was the first step towards a liberal policy. In the ten years since free trade was established, the official value of the exports in 1842 amounted to £100,000,000, and increased to £192,000,000 sterling in 1852; thus, while the increase during ten years of protection was ten millions sterling, it was, in ten years of free trade, no less than ninety-two millions sterling.

In regard to ships, it appeared by reference to official returns, that the entrances and clearances, while they were nine millions of tons in 1842, reached, in 1849, which was the last year of protection to British shipping, to fourteen million tons, showing an increase in the five years of protection of five millions of tons. But if we look to the increase in eight years of free trade — that is, from 1849 to 1857, we will find that the increase was no less than nine millions of tons; and that while the people of England were great gainers by this liberal policy, the British ship-owner, so far from being a sufferer, as he supposed he would be, has also been a considerable gainer; for while the increase of British shipping amounted to three millions of tons between 1842 and 1849, it reached four millions of tons between 1849 and 1857.

Another point of great interest and importance upon which Mr. Lindsey urged unity of legislation was in reference to crimes committed at sea. American laws take no cognizance of crimes committed upon English ships in American ports, nor English laws of crimes committed upon American ships in British ports. There are disputes, too, between masters and men, arising at sea, in which the courts of neither country have any power of adjustment. Mr. Lindsey suggested an improvement, already made in the ports of England, which might be advantageously adopted in this country. It consists in the establishment of shipping offices, which have done away with the crimps and land sharks, who formerly supplied the ships with crews and pocketed their advance pay. The miseries and injuries of this system have given place to shipping offices in every British port, which are under the control of committees chosen by the ship-owners of the port.--Attached to each of them is a money order office and savings bank. Here all sailors are shipped, and here, too, they are paid off. The improvement has been manifest. The number of sailors' families upon the parishes is greatly diminished, the character and health of the sailor are improved, and the ship-masters and owners also reap the benefit. Registers are kept in which the names of the seamen are noted, and a seaman of bad character has little chance of employment. Unfortunately only British captains have access to these offices. If they were also established in America, England would reciprocate.

Mr. Lindsey expressed his full concurrence in the doctrine that private property at sea should be respected as the same property is respected on shore, and that Mr. Marcy was right when he maintained that America could not, with her small Navy, abolish privateering, whilst England could send her vast naval force to burn, plunder, and destroy. Altogether this mission of commercial reform which Mr. Lindsey urges in America is important and practical in the highest degree, and has in that gentleman an able and worthy exponent.

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