IMPORTATION, comm. law. The act of bringing goods and merchandise into the United States from a foreign country. 9 Cranch, 104, 120; 5 Cranch, 368; 2 Mann. & Gr. 155, note a.
2. To prevent the mischievous interference of the several states with the national commerce, the constitution of the United States, art. 1, s. 10, provides as follows: "No state shall, without the consent of the congress, lay any imposts or duties on imports or exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing its inspection laws, and the net produce of all duties and imposts, laid by any state on imports or exports, shall be for the use of the treasury of the United States; and all such laws shall be subject to the revision and control of the congress."
3. This apparently plain provision has received a judicial construction. In the year 1821, the legislature of Maryland passed an act requiring that all importers of foreign articles, commodities, &c., by the bale or package, of wine, rum, &c., and other persons selling the same by wholesale, bale or package, hogshead, barrel or tierce, should, before they were authorized to sell, take out a license for which they were to pay fifty dollars, under certain penalties. A question arose whether this act was or was not a violation of the constitution of the United States, and particularly of the above clause, and the supreme court decided against the constitutionality of the law. 12 Wheat. 419.
4. The act of congress of March 1, 1817, 3 Story, L. U. S. 1622, provides:
5. - 1. That, after the 30th day of September next, no goods, wares, or merchandise, shall be imported into the United States from any foreign port or place, except in vessels of the United States, or in such foreign vessels as truly or wholly belong to the citizens or subjects of that country of which the goods are the growth, production or manufacture; or from which such goods, wares or merchandise, can only be or most usually are, first shipped for transportation: Provided, nevertheless, That this regulation shall not extend to the vessels of any foreign nation which has not adopted, and which shall not adopt a similar regulation.
6. - 2. That all goods, wares or merchandise, imported into the United States contrary to the true intent and meaning of this act, and the ship or vessel wherein the same shall be imported, together with her cargo, tackle, apparel, and furniture, shall be forfeited to the United States and such goods, wares, or merchandise, ship, or vessel, and cargo, shall be liable to be seized, prosecuted, and condemned, in like manner, and under the same regulations, restrictions, and provisions, as have been heretofore established for the recovery, collection, distribution, and remission, of forfeitures to the United States by the several revenue laws.
7. - 4. That no goods, wares, or merchandise, shall, be imported, under penalty of forfeiture thereof, from one port of the United States to another port of the United States, in a vessel belonging wholly or in part to a subject of any foreign power; but this clause shall not be construed to prohibit the sailing of any foreign vessel from one to another port of the United States, provided no goods, wares, or mere other than those imported in such vessel from some foreign port, and which shall not have been unladen, shall be carried from one port or place to another in the United States.
8. - 6. That after the 30th day of September next, there shall be paid upon every ship or vessel of the United States, which shall be entered in the United States from any foreign port or place, unless the officers, and at least two-thirds of the crew thereof, shall be proved citizens of the United States, or persons not the Subjects of any foreign prince or state, to the satisfaction of the collector, fifty cents per ton: And provided also, that this section shall not extend to ships or vessels of the United States, which are now on foreign voyages, or which may depart from the United States prior to the first day of May next, until after their return to some port of the United States.
9.- 7. That the several bounties and remissions, or abatements of duty, allowed by this act, in the case of vessels having a certain proportion of seamen who are American citizens, or persons not the subjects of any foreign power, shall be allowed only, in the case of vessels having such proportion of American seamen during their whole voyage, unless in case of sickness, death or desertion, or where the whole or part of the crew shall have been taken prisoners in the voyage. Vide article Entry of goods at the Custom-house.