The annual report of Navigation Commissioner Chamberlain is devoted mainly to statistics and facts in support of the project for the creation of the American merchant marine recommended by Secretary Gage. Excluding the Great Lakes, practically shut off by Niagara Falls from foreign competition, the tonnage of vessels entered and cleared at seaports of the United States in foreign trade for 1897 comprised 7,248,625 tons American, and 32,632,419 tons foreign shipping. If a line be drawn everywhere fifteen hundred nautical miles distant from our seacoast, trade between foreign ports inside that zone and the United States comprised 5,179,969 tons American and 5,213,393 tons foreign shipping. In over-sea navigation to foreign ports, more than fifteen hundred miles distant, American shipping amounted to only 2,068,656 tons, compared with 27,419,026 tons foreign.

Only three practical courses, at the present time, are open to the United States: First, We may retain our laws unchanged, ignore national navigation, and continue to rely on vessels under foreign flags for the transportation of our exports and imports. Second, We may permit foreign-built vessels to register under the American flag, ship crews abroad, and increase national navigation. Third, We may extend direct Government aid to vessels built in the United States, and thus increase national navigation and national shipbuilding.

December 15, 1898

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