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United States Supreme Court

109 U.S. 139

Arthur  v.  Pastor

This action was brought by the defendants in error to recover from the defendant below, now plaintiff in error, money alleged to have been illegally exacted and paid under protest as customs duties upon an importation of wool. Upon the facts set out in a bill of exceptions, and in respect to which there is no dispute, there was a verdict and judgment for the plaintiff below, upon a charge of the court to that effect, to review which this writ of error is prosecuted; the error alleged being that, upon the law of the case, the verdict and judgment should have been rendered for the plaintiff in error. The importation, which took place January 3, 1876, consisted of 3,294 pounds of washed wool, of class 1, tariff schedule L, the dutiable appraised value of which in its washed condition was $1,627, or 49.49 cents per pound. Had it been imported in an unwashed condition, the dutiable appraised value thereof would have been $813.50, or 24.69 cents per pound. There were three grades or descriptions of wool known to the trade, rated as to value according to the degree to which they had been freed from impurities, by processes of cleaning, known as unwashed, washed, and scoured wool; and their cost and value were determined in a corresponding proportion, washed wool being worth twice and scoured wool three times that of unwashed wool. The same distinction, for the purposes of the law, was made in the provisions of the tariff act then in force. By the terms of that act (Rev. St. tit. 33, sched. L) foreign wools were divided into three classes,-the first clothing wools, the second combing wools, the third carpet wools and other similar wools. It was provided that 'the duty upon wool of the first class, which shall be imported washed, shall be twice the amount of the duty to which it would be subjected if imported unwashed; and the duty upon wool of all classes, which shall be imported scoured, shall be three times the duty to which it would be subject if imported unwashed.' It was then provided that the duty to be levied should be as follows:

'Wools of the first class, the value whereof at the last port or place whence exported to the United States, excluding charges in such port, shall be thirty-two cents or less per pound, ten cents per pound, and in addition thereto eleven per centum ad valorem. Wools of the same class, the value whereof at the last port or place whence exported to the United States, excluding charges in such port, shall exceed thirty-two cents per pound, twelve cents per pound, and in addition thereto ten per centum ad valorem.'

The collector, in making his assessment upon the importation in question, exacted duty as follows:

On 3,294 pounds, @ 20 cts. per pound,. $ 658 80

" $1,627, (its value washed,) @ 22 per cent.,. 357 94


Total,.......................... $1,016 74

The importers protested that they should be charged, as an ad valorem duty, only $178.97, or one-half the amount charged and collected, being 22 per cent. on the reduced value of the wool, as if unwashed, making a difference of $178.97, which is the amount in controversy. It was proven on the trial that the value of that number of pounds of such wool, unwashed, would have been $813.50. Asst. Atty. Gen. Maury, for plaintiff in error.

Edward Hartley and W. H. Coleman, for defendants in error.

MATTHEWS, J.

NotesEdit

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).