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enforced. I do not think it desirable to extend the law forbidding allotments in the foreign trade. The present law is being evaded, but it is difficult to establish the fact, for the reason that the seamen who are benefited by it are themselves parties to the evasion; they will not appear against the owners or the boardin -house masters. After the passage of the act of June 26, 1884, in order to evade the law they shipped seamen at this port for a shilling a month for the first one or two months, and regu lar wages for the remainder of the voyage. The same thing is being done now to evade the act of February 18, 1895. For instance, a crew shipped at this port bound for Alaska on a fishing cruise. The wages were $15 for the first month and $25 per month for the remainder of the voyage. It was well understood that the owners paid $25 for the first month, the boarding-house master receiving $10 of the money. There was no way of proving this, for when I called the seaman's attention to the discrepancy in the wages for the first month and the wages for the remainder of the voyage, he declined to enter a complaint. In such cases, when it is apparent that the law is being evaded, I have refused to sign seamen; but my refusal to sign them does not prevent their being victimized, for they can be removed from my office and signed before the master. The fact of the violation of the law was brought before the United States grand jury, but they declined to issue indictments, being satisfied that, the seamen themselves being parties to the evasion, it would be impossible to secure a conviction.
Since the passage of the act of February 18, 1895, the shipment of seamen in this office on vessels engaged in the coastwise trade has decreased, which is to be regretted, for it would be better for the seamen if coastwise as well as foreign vessels were shipped and discharged before a United States shipping commissioner. When allotment notes could be issued by this office to coastwise vessels, many shipped here, because the owner who paid the note, and the boarding master who received it, both preferred having notes issued by a Government officer.
Waldoboro, Me.-In answer to your communication of April 22, 1895, I have to report that the new provisions of law forbidding allotments of wages in the coast wise trade do not operate satisfactorily to seamen, masters, or owners of vessels at this port, and I think the law should be repealed. I think a small allotment should be allowed to enable seamen to pay a few days' board, transporting their baggage, and, in case of seamen with families, to leave some provision for them. Several cases have come under my notice where seamen have been obliged to call on the city for relief, as no one would take them in, having no recourse for their pay. Sailors, as a general thing, are improvident. They are paid off with a few dollars, which they spend in a few days, and when they come to ship they are destitute of the means to procure for themselves a few necessaries which are needed to make life pleasant on board ship. No one will furnish them, as there is no surety of getting pay; consequently the sailors have to go to sea destitute. I think a reasonable allotment would be beneficial to the seamen and more satisfactory to the masters. It seems to be the consensus of opinion of owners and masters of vessels and seamen at this port that this new provision works badly, and that an extension of the law forbidding allotments in the foreign trade would not be desirable.
Wilmaton, N. C.-As regards the consensus of opinion of owners and masters of vessels and seamen as to the operation of the new provision of law forbidding allotments of wages in the coastwise trade, I would say that masters and seamen as a rule do not approve of this law. Also, we do not think it desirable to extend the law forbidding allotments in the foreign trade.
Newport News.-The consensus of opinion is that the law is a very unjust one; that it prevents masters from getting men in a great many instances, as seamen as a class as soon as they are pai off spend their money, and boarding houses will not take them in if they wish to ship coastwise, as they can get no compensation for their board. Then in winter captains do not want men on their vessels who have not suitable clothes, and as the lay now stands the captains can not make them an advance for any purpose, and thereby the men are placed where they can not be provided with proper clothes. Therefore the masters of vessels and the seamen wis the law repea ed, and if the law be extended to American vessels in the foreign trade, it would, in my opinion, be very detrimental to the interests of the owners of such vessels.
ACT OF FEBRUARY 18, 1895.
No report was required on the act of February 18, 1895, except the allotment feature, but the commissioners at Boston, Mass., and Bath, Me., report on other features, as follows:
Boston.-Since the passage of the act approved February 18, 1895, forbidding allotment of wages in the coastwise trade and West Indies, etc., loud and numerous complaints have been made by masters and owners as to the injustice of the act-not so far as it relates to the nonpayment of allotments or advance, but to the conduct
and general behavior of men while on board vessels. This act allows seamen to leave the vessel in any port at any time before the voyage is finished, often placing the master in great trouble, and causing great expense in obtaining new men. The masters complain also that they can not maintain discipline on board vessels under this present statute; that the seamen can refuse duty, at times placing the vessel and cargo in great jeopardy, and the lives of masters and officers in danger. For all this no punishment can be inflicted other than a loss of pay while refusing to work and perform their duty.
Bath, Me.-Akin to this question raised in your letter, I beg most respectfully to call attention to those other provisions of the Maguire bill which do away with the sections of the Revised Statutes which formerly enabled shipping commissioners and ship captains to enforce the obedience of the sailors to the contract under which they have signed. Whatever the intent of the law, the interpretation of it by the seamen, and that generally recognized by the masters, is that they are now freed from any obligation to proceed on the vessel on which they have shipped or to remain by her in any port on the passage, and are at liberty to leave, with or without reason, whenever and wherever they will to do so.
The following is from a recent circular of the Atlantic Coast Seamen's Union, addressed to American coasting seamen:
"Your attention is invited to the act of Congress approved February 18, 1895, amending the act of August 19, 1890, which related to seamen in the coastwise trade shipped before United States shipping commissioners. The act of February 18, 1895, is an outgrowth from and a natural sequence to the act of August 19, 1890, the practical workings of which have proven it to be one of the most obnoxious measures of its kind ever drafted, and decidedly contrary to the spirit of the Constitu tion of the United States, which, in no uncertain language, interdicts involuntary servitude.
"The chief merits of the new act are briefly as follows: It guarantees to seamen engaged in the coastwise trade of the United States, or the trade between the United States and the Dominion of Canada, or Newfoundland, or the West Indies, or Mexico, the freedom of civil contract enjoyed by all other workingmen on shore-that is, a seaman who ships on board of a vessel engaged in the above-mentioned trade, no matter whether his shipment takes place before a United States shipping commissioner or not, may, at his own option, and if he be not satisfied with the vessel or her officers, leave her in any port without fear of imprisonment or punishment of whatsoever kind."
This has acted as a direct incentive to desertion from vessels before leaving port, and of course as here, where it is necessary to send away for seamen, prepaying their expenses, it is sometimes, with the exercise of the greatest care, impossible to get these refunded. In fact the law, as it is now interpreted, denies to this office any authority, renders that of the master of little avail, and has directly tended to troublesome and dangerous insubordination on shipboard. I have been so impressed with the consequent evils that I have felt it my duty to bring these to the attention of the Bureau.
ALLOTMENTS TO SEAMEN.
The following table shows the number of allotment notes issued by shipping commissioners, first, for the benefit of relatives, second, for the benefit of original creditors, with the total number of seamen shipped and reshipped. No allotment notes to seamen on steam vessels were issued at New York.
The following pages show, first, the average monthly wages paid during the past fiscal year on American steam and sailing vessels to seamen shipped in various positions for voyages in various branches of the foreign and coasting trade, compiled from reports of United States shipping commissioners to this Bureau, and, second, like statements as to wages on British vessels, compiled from the annual reports of the board of trade. This form of comparative statement was established in the report of the Bureau last year and it will be continued hereafter. By reference to that report comparison may be made of the relative changes in wages. The report for 1894 also contained tables of wages on French and German vessels and general observations on the subject which do not require repetition.
The monthly wages paid to able seamen on our large transatlantic steamships averaged $22.50 from New York and $20 from Philadelphia, while the average wages of able seamen paid on large British transatlantic steamships ranged from $19.44 to $21.87. The average wages of the firemen on these American vessels was $37.50, while on the British vessels it was $20.65. A large number of firemeu on these American vessels are shipped, however, before United States consuls at Liverpool and Antwerp, and are paid the local rates of wages. The average monthly wages paid to able seamen on our large sailing vessels making the voyage from San Francisco and Port Townsend to Great Britain was $16.35 at the former and $15 at the latter port, while the average wages paid able seamen on similar British vessels sailing from England to the Pacific Coast ranged from $12.15 to $15.
The pay of officers on American vessels is considerably larger than on British vessels.
The tables are given in detail, so that any comparison of the wages of particular voyages, kinds of vessels, or positions on the ship may readily be made.
Average rates of monthly wages paid in the American merchant marine for fiscal year ended June 30, 1895.