RAVESIES v. UNITED STATES.
35 FED. REP. 971, 918, 919.
(District Court, S. D. Alabama. July 24, 1888.)
1. SEAMEN—SHIPMENT—FEES OF SHIPPING COMMISSIONER—COASTWISE TRADE.
Vessels engaged in the inland river trade of the state of Alabama, though carrying merchandise between the several states of the United States, are not engaged in the “coastwise trade” within the meaning of the act of congress of June 19, 1886, so as to entitle a shipping commissioner to the fees therein prescribed for shipping crews for such vessels.
Action by Paul Ravesies against the United States to recover fees for services rendered as shipping commissioner for the port of Mobile.
TOULMIN, J.—As shown by the petition, the plaintiff was United States commissioner for the port of Mobile, in the state of Alabama, from the 4th of March, 1887, to the 19th of July, 1887, inclusive, and during that period he, as such commissioner, shipped seamen to compose the crews of American vessels engaged in trade on the inland navigable rivers within the state of Alabama, and also the crews of American vessels engaged in trade between the port of Mobile, in said state of Alabama, and Tampa and other ports, in the state of Florida. It is shown that each of the said vessels in the inland river trade in the state of Alabama was engaged in voyages between ports within said state ; that all said shipments were made at the request of the masters of said vessels, respectively ; that the vessels were duly enrolled in the customhouse at Mobile, and licensed to carry on the coasting trade ; and that they were directly and actually engaged in commerce between the several states of the United States. The plaintiff duly presented to the treasury department his account for the fees which he claims to be due him for the services rendered, but it was disallowed, and payment thereof refused. He now sues to recover the amount of the account. The United States, by the district attorney, demurs to the petition so far as it relates to the shipment of seamen on vessels engaged in making voyages in the river trade from and to points exclusively within the state of Alabama, and pleads the general issue to the allegations of the petition relating to the shipment of seamen on the vessels engaged in the trade with ports in the state of Florida. The plaintiff bases his right to the fees sued for on the act of congress of June 19, 1886, which provides “that shipping commissioners may ship and discharge crews for any vessel engaged in the coastwise trade * * * at the request of the master or owner of such vessel.” It is conceded that, unless plaintiff is entitled under this
act to the fees claimed, he has no right to them. To entitle him to such fees the vessels for which he performed the services charged for must have been engaged in the “coastwise trade.” The question raised by the demurrer to the petition is whether vessels engaged in making voyages in the inland river trade from and to points exclusively within the state of Alabama are engaged in the coastwise trade, it being admitted they were engaged in the transportation of merchandise and other subjects of trade and commerce between the state of Alabama and other states of the United States. Does it follow that because a vessel is engaged in commerce among the states it is engaged in the “coastwise trade ?” These vessels may be said to be engaged in interstate commerce when they aid in the transportation of objects of trade and commerce, and of passengers, from points within this state to points within another of the United States, and to foreign nations, and also in the transportation to points within this state of such objects shipped from foreign nations, or from other of the United States. But the fact that they are engaged in commerce among the states does not of itself give them a right to the services of the shipping commissioner under the act of congress of June 19, 1886. Unless they were at the same time engaged in the “coastwise trade,” the plaintiff would not be entitled to the fees claimed. Were they so engaged ? To be engaged in means to be employed, to be occupied, in the “coastwise trade.” “Coast” is defined to be the seaboard of a country. The coast is the sea-shore. “Coastwise,” by way of the coast ; along shore. See the case of The James Morrison, 1 Newb. Adm. 241 ; The William Pope, Id. 256. “Coastwise trade” means trade or intercourse carried on by sea between two ports or places belonging to the same country. “Coastwise trade” may be a part of the commerce among the several states, but commerce among the several states is not necessarily “coastwise trade.”