John Hays, Plaintiff In Error v. the Pacific Mailcompany

Decision Date01 December 1854
Docket NumberSTEAM-SHIP
Citation15 L.Ed. 254,17 How. 596,58 U.S. 596
PartiesJOHN C. HAYS, PLAINTIFF IN ERROR, v. THE PACIFIC MAILCOMPANY
CourtU.S. Supreme Court

Mr. Justice NELSON delivered the opinion of the court.

This is a writ of error to the district court for the northern district of California.

The suit was brought in the district court, by the company, to recover back a sum of money which they were compelled to pay to the defendant, as taxes assessed in the State of California, upon twelve steam-ships belonging to them, which were temporarily within the jurisdiction of the State.

The complaint sets forth, that the plaintiffs are an incorporated company by the laws of New York; that all the stockholders are residents and citizens of that State; that the principal office for transacting the business of the company is located in the city of New York, but, for the better transaction of their business, they have agencies in the city of Panama, New Grenada, and in the city of San Francisco, California; that they have, also, a naval dock and ship-yard at the port of Benicia, of that State, for furnishing and repairing their steamers; that, on the arrival at the port of San Francisco, they remain no longer than is necessary to land their passengers, mails, and freight, usually done in a day; they then proceed to Benicia, and remain for repairs and refitting until the commencement of the next voyage, usually some ten or twelve days; that the business in which they are engaged is in the transportation of passengers, merchandise, treasure, and the United States mails, between the city of New York and the city of San Francisco, by way of Panama, and between San Francisco and different ports in the Territory of Oregon; that the company are sole owners of the several vessels, and no portion of the interest is owned by citizens of the State of California; that the vessels are all ocean steam-ships, employed exclusively in navigating the waters of the ocean; that all of them are duly registered at the custom-house in New York, where the owners reside; that taxes have been assessed upon all the capital of the plaintiffs represented by the steamers in the State of New York, under the laws of that State, ever since they have been employed in the navigation, down to the present time; that the said steam-ships have been assessed in the State of California and county of San Francisco, for the year beginning 1st July, 1851, and ending 30th June, 1852, claiming the assessment as annually due, under an act of the legislature of the State; that the taxes assessed amount to $11,962.50, and were paid under protest, after one of the vessels was advertised for sale by the defendant, in order to prevent a sale of it.

To this complaint the defendant demurred, and the court below gave judgment for the plaintiffs.

By the 3d section of the act of congress of 31st December, 1792, it is provided that every ship or vessel, except as thereafter provided, shall be registered by the collector of the district, in which shall be comprehended the port to which the ship or vessel shall belong at the time of her registry, and which port shall be deemed to be that at or nearest to which the owner, if there be but one, or, if more than one, nearest to the place where the husband, or acting and managing owner usually resides; and the name of the ship, and of the port to which she shall so belong, shall be painted on her stern, on a black ground, in white letters of not less than three inches in length; and if any ship or vessel of the United States shall be found without having her name, and the name of the port to which she belongs, painted in the manner mentioned, the owner or owners shall forfeit fifty dollars.

And by the act of 29th July, 1850, (9 Stats. at Large, 440,) it is provided that no bill of sale, mortgage, or conveyance of any vessel shall be valid against any person other than the grantor, &c., and persons having actual notice, unless such...

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134 cases
  • Shell Oil Co. v. State Bd. of Equalization
    • United States
    • California Supreme Court
    • 6 Junio 1966
    ...that because of the fiction of the territoriality of vessels and because of the home port doctrine of Hays v. Pacific Mail Steamship Co. (1854) 58 U.S. (17 How.) 596, 15 L.Ed. 254, the vessels here involved are subject to taxation by the state or county of their registry, and that therefore......
  • Sea-Land Service, Inc. v. County of Alameda
    • United States
    • California Supreme Court
    • 8 Noviembre 1974
    ...597--598, 74 S.Ct. at p. 762.) 10 Rather, Sea-Land relies on the 'home-port' doctrine, established in Hays v. Pacific Mail Steamship Co. (1854) supra, 58 U.S. (17 How.) 596, 15 L.Ed. 254, and its progeny. 11 Under this concept instrumentalities of commerce such as the containers involved he......
  • Streckfus Steamers, Inc. v. Kiersky
    • United States
    • Mississippi Supreme Court
    • 4 Noviembre 1935
    ... ... Suggestion Of Error Overruled January 6, 1936 ... APPEAL ... v ... Livingston, 3 Cow. 743; John Hopkins Univ. Studies, ... Series 40, No. 3; ... L. & P. R. R. v ... Ill., 118 U.S. 557; Hays v. So. Pac. S. S. Co., ... 17 How. 596; ... Johnson ... v. Chicago & Pacific Elevator Co., 119 U.S. 388, 30 L.Ed ... ...
  • Japan Line, Ltd v. County of Los Angeles
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    • U.S. Supreme Court
    • 30 Abril 1979
    ...that we have appellate jurisdiction of this case. III A. The "home port doctrine" was first alluded to in Hays v. Pacific Mail S. S. Co., 17 How. 596, 58 U.S. 596, 15 L.Ed. 254 (1855). In Hays, California sought to impose property taxes on oceangoing vessels intermittently touching its port......
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