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having been recognized by the President, Mr. Justice Wayne adds: 'We think it was rightful and correct recognition under all circumstances, and when we say rightful we mean that it was constitutional, although Congress had not passed an act to extend the collection of tonnage and import duties to the ports of California.""
If the laws of Congress instantly applied, why was the recognition of the President necessary? They could gain no legal efficacy from such recognition which they did not have without it, under the supposition that they applied on cession by their own force. Surely so obvious a consequence would have occurred to the court in Cross v. Harrison, and we cannot believe that the court used its language carelessly or uselessly. If the assent and recognition of the President were not necessary, why dwell upon them? Why so confuse the statement of a simple principle—simple in application and expressionand cast doubt upon it by unnecessary qualifications? The case, therefore, is not inconsistent with the ruling in regard to Louisiana. For a period of time, after the cession of Louisiana, President Jefferson treated it as foreign territory under the custom laws, and duties were levied upon its products, and no one disputed the legality of it. If the instance was not the same as in Cross v. Harrison, the principle was the same. There was not an immediate change upon the cession of either California or Louisiana. In California, duties were levied for a time under the war tariff, and afterwards under the act of Congress; and of the latter it was said: “This last was done either with the assent of the executive of the United States, or without any interference to prevent it.” And this, it was further said, was “recognized as allowable and lawful by Mr. Polk and his cabinet.” We are disposed to ask again, was the language inadvertent? Did not the court use it with full consciousness of its meaning and its necessity? Was the court in confusion as to the principles which applied and jumbled them together without seeing or making a distinction between the force of the act of Congress of itself and the action of the President in giving it efficacy, the necessity of its being recognized as "allowable and lawful by Mr. Polk and his cabinet?” Surely not. Rights were involved which depended upon the legality of the war tariff both before and after cession, and that legality was intended to be and was passed upon and sustained. An automatic effect was not given to the act of Congress as it is given in the case at bar. The act was applied by the President—not in simple execution of it, but as giving it legal effect. And it was this that the court said "was a rightful and correct recognition under all the circumstances.” “Rightful,” because “it was constitutional, although Congress had not passed an act to extend the collection of tonnage and import duties to the ports of California.” In other words, an act of Congress was not necessary to extend the collection of duties; the power of the President was sufficient, and of that power the court left no doubt. Speaking of the duties which were collected under the war tariff after the cession, it was observed, “but after the ratification of the treaty, California became a part of the United States, or a ceded, conquered territory. Our inquiry here is to be, whether or not the cession gave any right to the plaintiffs to have the duties restored to them, which they may have paid between the ratification, and exchange of the treaty and the notification of that fact by our government to the military governor of California. It was not received by him until two months after the ratification, and not then with any instructions or even remote intimation from the President that the civil and military government which had been instituted during the war was discontinued. Up to that time, whether such an intimation had or had not been given, duties had been collected under the war tariff, strictly in conformity with the instructions which had been received from Washington.”
Comment would seem to be unnecessary to make this passage clear. If the act of Congress applied by cession, it applied immediately. It could not be delayed by taking time for notice. Besides, it would by its own force displace all other provisions, and would not need for operation upon rights or the creation of rights, that the President give instructions or intimations, near or remote, “that the civil and military government, which had been instituted during the war, was discontinued.” But we need not comment further. We may use the language of the court in summarizing its conclusion:
“Our conclusion from what has been said is that the civil government of California, organized as it was from a right of conquest, did not cease or become defunct in consequence of the signature of the treaty or from its ratification. We think it was continued over a ceded conquest, without any violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States, and that until Congress legislated for it the duties upon foreign goods imported into San Francisco were legally demanded and lawfully received by Mr. Harrison, the collector of the port, who received his appointment, according to instructions from Washington, from Governor Mason.”
This explicit statement, as well as the analysis and review which have first been made, leaves no ground to sustain the conclusion that Cross v. Harrison held that the tariff laws of the United States were immediately operative in California without regard to the exercise of the President's discretion putting them in force. But purely for argument sake we may concede the contrary. The decision must have been, in any conception, based on the provisions of the treaty with Mexico. The court said so. But the treaty with Spain, instead of providing for incorporating the ceded territory into the United States, as did the treaty with Mexico, expressly declares that the status of the ceded territory is to be determined by Congress. This difference in the treaties removes Cross v. Harrison as a factor in the judgment of the case at bar, supposing its interpretation, in the opinion we are reviewing, be correct.
3. The opinion of the court says: “On March 1, 1815, Congress adopted a joint resolution consenting to the annexation of Texas upon certain conditions, (5 Stat. 797,) but it was not until December 25, 1845, that it was formally admitted as a State. (9 Stat. 108.) In this interval, and on July 29, 1815, the Secretary of the Treasury issued a circular letter directing the collectors to collect duties upon all imports from Texas into the United States until Congress had further acted. Of course, there could be no question that Texas remained a foreign state until December 25, when she was formally admitted. The circular, therefore, is of no pertinence to the question here involved.” We think otherwise. Even after her admission as a State it was deemed necessary to extend the laws of the United States to her. (9 Stat. 1.) She was an example, as Florida was, as to what Congress believed to be necessary, and Oregon and Alaska are like examples. The simple rule of the automatic action of the custom and revenue laws seemingly did not occur to anybody; not even as to incorporated territory nor to a new State formed from foreign territory. Nor, as we have seen, did such theory seem to be sustainable when Chief Justice Taney announced in Fleming y. Page a contrary conclusion.
4. But independent of precedent the court says it is “irresistibly impelled to the same conclusion.” The argument is mainly based upon the treaty-making power invested in the President and Senate. A treaty made by that power is said to be the supreme law of the land—as efficacious as an act of Congress; and if subsequent and inconsistent with an act of Congress, repeals it. This must be granted, and also that “one of the ordinary incidents of a treaty is the cession of territory,” and that “the territory thus acquired is acquired as absolutely as if the annexation were made, as in the case of Texas and Hawaii, by an act of Congress.” But to tell us of the sources of the treaty-making power and to define the extent of that power helps us very little to the solution of the present problem.
The question occurs, What has the treaty-making power done? Is the treaty with Spain inconsistent with the Dingley act, and was it intended to work the repeal of that act? That act when passed was undoubtedly intended to apply to products from Porto Rico, and, we suppose, it will not be contended in determining whether the treaty has rendered the act inoperative, the terms of the treaty are not to be looked at? Assuredly the treaty cannot have an automatic force contrary to its terms. That is, it cannot be contended, that the automatic force of the treaty is greater than the force of the treaty itself.
This court said, speaking by Mr. Justice Brown, in Holden v. Hardy, (169 U.S. 366):
“In the future growth of the nation, as heretofore, it is not impossible that Congress may see fit to annex territories whose jurisprudence is that of the civil law. One of the considerations moving to such
annexation might be the very fact that the territory so annexed should enter the union with its traditions, laws and systems of administration unchanged. It would be a narrow construction of the Constitution to require them to abandon these, or to substitute for a system, which represent the growth of generations of inhabitants, a jurisprudence with which they had had no previous acquaintance or sympathy."
The statement being accepted, may not a fiscal system be as important as other matters of administration? May not a change of taxation, new burdens of taxation suddenly imposed, be worthy of consideration?
The opinion of the case at bar bas not discussed the treaty. It takes it for granted that the cession of Porto Rico was absolute, and the conclusion that it is not a foreign country, within the meaning of the revenue laws, is deduced from that. But necessarily that depends upon the treaty, and interpretation 'is called for. The power of Congress over ceded territory is asserted in the opinion in somewhat absolute terms-it “involves the right to govern and dispose of it.” This being so, it would seem to be certain that the treaty-making power would not forestall Congress or accept with the cession of territory the destruction of the fiscal and industrial policies of the country. We should hesitate to so pronounce for reasons which must occur to every one, except upon the compulsion of the clearest expression.
The opinion of the court further says “territory thus acquired (by treaty) can remain a foreign country under the tariff laws only on one of two theories: either that the word 'foreign’ applies to such countries as were foreign at the time the statute was enacted, notwithstanding any change in their condition, or that they remain foreign under the tariff laws until Congress has formally embraced them within the customs union of the States.” Both theories are rejected as untenable. The first because, “while a statute is presumed to speak from the time of its enactment, it embraces all such persons or things as subsequently fall within its scope.” But what constitutes the scope of a statute—its letter inevitably, or may its spirit be regarded as interpreting and applying its letter? In other words, shall the purpose of its enactment be executed or defeated? There can be but one answer to these questions, nor can confidence in the answer be lessened by the analogies used by the court.
The law against selling liquors to minors, it is said, contemplates all minors—those existing and those which may come into being afterwards. Very true, but the purpose of the law is that. The same with territories (to use another illustration of the opinion) being bound as States when they come into the Union. But these illustrations assume that the territory referred to was incorporated by the treaty into the United States, an ever-recurring and misleading fallacy, in our judgment.
Let us, however, look at the argument under the wrong assumption of incorporation. The provisions of the Constitution for the admission of new States contemplate the consequences of statehood—contemplate territories ceasing to be bound as such and becoming bound as States. In other words, those provisions regard the future, and have their purpose fulfilled, not defeated, by territories becoming States. But a tariff law does not contemplate additions to or subtractions from itself. It may be said to be occasional. It regards certain conditions, and may be dependent upon them, whether it be enacted for revenue only or for protection and revenue. Its entire plan may be impaired or be destroyed by change in any part. The revenues of the government may be lessened, even take away by change; the industrial policy of the country may be destroyed by change. We are repelled by the argument which leads to such consequences, whether regarding our own country or the foreign country made “domestic.” If "domestic” as to what comes from it, it is “domestic” as to what goes to it, and its custom laws as well as our custom laws may be cast into confusion, and its business and affairs deranged before there is possibility of action.
As we have already said, to set the word foreign in antithesis to the word domestic proves nothing. Their opposition does not express the controversy. The controversy is narrower. It is whether a particular tariff law applies. That, indeed, may be the consequence of the principle that all laws apply. Or that customs laws apply by reason of the provision of the Constitution which requires duties, imposts and excises to be uniform throughout the United States, and the treatymaking power cannot prevent the application of that provision. That principle is asserted by counsel and is very simple, but applied, as counsel apply it, is fraught with grave consequences. It takes this great country out of the world and shuts it up within itself. It binds and cripples the power to make war and peace. It may take away the fruits of victory, and, if we may contemplate the possibility of disaster, it may take away the means of mitigating that. All those great and necessary powers, are, as a consequence of the argument, limited by the necessity to make some impost or excise “uniform throughout the United States."
The treaty-making power is as much a constitutional power as the legislative or judicial powers. It is a supreme attribute of sovereignty, but often less determined in its exercise than others—more dependent on contingency, and may be less optional. It may precede war or follow war-command or be commanded by war. The kind or direction of its exercise cannot always be predicted or marked. There can be no verbal limitations upon it, and, wisely, none were attempted. Whatever restraints should be put upon it might have to yield to the greater restraints of life or death—not only material prosperity, but national existence. These, of course, are extreme contingencies, but they are not impossible, and are necessary to be regarded when limitations are urged which take no account of them. We do not mean