|These cases are brought here by writs of error to the Supreme Court of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. They are actions to recover half pilotage fees under the 29th section of the act of the Legislature of Pennsylvania, passed on the second day of March, 1803. The plaintiff in error alleges that the highest court of the state has decided against a right claimed by him under the Constitution of the United States. That right is to be exempted from the payment of the sums of money demanded, pursuant to the State law above referred to, because that law contravenes several provisions of the Constitution of the United States
The particular section of the state law drawn in question is as follows:
'That every ship or vessel arriving from or bound to any foreign port or place, and every ship or vessel of the burden of seventy-five tons or more, sailing from or bound to any port not within the river Delaware, shall be obliged to receive a pilot. And it shall be the duty of the master of every such ship or vessel, within thirty-six hours next after the arrival of such ship or vessel at the city of Philadelphia, to make report to the master-warden of the name of such ship or vessel, her draught of water, and the name of the pilot who shall have conducted her to the port. And when any such vessel shall be outward-bound, the master of such vessel shall make known to the wardens the name of such vessel, and of the pilot who is to conduct her to the capes, and her draught of water at that time. And it shall be the duty of the wardens to enter every such vessel in a book to be by them kept for that purpose, without fee or reward. And if the master of any ship or vessel shall neglect to make such report, he shall forfeit and pay the sum of sixty dollars. And if the master of any such ship or vessel shall refuse or neglect to take a pilot, the master, owner or consignee of such vessel shall forfeit and pay to the warden aforesaid, a sum equal to the half-pilotage of such ship or vessel, to the use of the Society for the Relief, &c., to be recovered as pilotage in the manner hereinafter directed: Provided always, that where it shall appear to the warden that, in case of an inward-bound vessel, a pilot did not offer before she had reached Reedy Island; or, in case of an outward- bound vessel, that a pilot could not be obtained for twenty-four hours after such vessel was ready to depart, the penalty aforesaid, for not having a pilot, shall not be incurred.' It constitutes one section of 'An act to establish a Board of Wardens for the port of Philadelphia, and for the regulation of Pilots and Pilotages, &c.,' and the scope of the act is in conformity with the title to regulate the whole subject of the pilotage of that port.
We think this particular regulation concerning half-pilotage fees, is an appropriate part of a general system of regulations of this subject. Testing it by the practice of commercial states and countries legislating on this subject, we find it has usually been deemed necessary to make similar provisions. Numerous laws of this kind are cited in the learned argument of the counsel for the defendant in error; and their fitness, as a part of the system of pilotage, in many places, may be inferred from their existence in so many different states and countries.
The laws of commercial states and countries have made an offer of pilotage-service one of those cases; and we cannot pronounce a law which does this, to be so far removed from the usual and fit scope of laws for the regulation of pilots and pilotage, as to be deemed, for this cause, a covert attempt to legislate upon another subject under the appearance of legislating on this one. It is urged that the second section of the act of the Legislature of Pennsylvania, of the 11th of June, 1832, proves that the state had other objects in view than the regulation of pilotage. That section is as follows:
It must be remembered, that the fair objects of a law imposing half- pilotage when a pilot is not received, may be secured, and at the same time some classes of vessels exempted from such charge. Thus the very section of the act of 1803, now under consideration, does not apply to coasting vessels of less burden than seventy-five tons, not to those bound to, or sailing from, a port in the river Delaware. The purpose of the law being to cause masters of such vessels as generally need a pilot, to employ one, and to secure to the pilots a fair remuneration for cruising in search of vessels, or waiting for employment in port, there is an obvious propriety in having reference to the number, size, and nature of employment of vessels frequenting the port; and it will be found, by an examination of the different systems of these regulations, which have from time to time been made in this and other countries, that the legislative discretion has been constantly exercised in making discriminations, founded on differences both in the character of the trade, and the tonnage of vessels engaged therein.
We do not perceive anything in the nature or extent of this particular discrimination in favor of vessels engaged in the coal trade, which would enable us to declare it to be other than a fair exercise of legislative discretion, acting upon the subject of the regulation of the pilotage of this port of Philadelphia, with a view to operate upon the masters of those vessels, who, as a general rule, ought to take a pilot, and with the further view of relieving from the charge of half-pilotage, such vessels as from their size, or the nature of their employment, should be exempted from contributing to the support of pilots, except so far as they actually receive their services. In our judgment, though this law of 1832 has undoubtedly modified the 29th section of the act of 1803, and both are to be taken together as giving the rule on this subject of half- pilotage, yet this change in the rule has not changed the nature of the law, nor deprived it of the character and attributes of a law for the regulation of pilotage.
The act of 1789 contains a clear legislative exposition of the Constitution by the first Congress, to the effect that the power to regulate pilots was conferred on Congress by the Constitution. The weight to be allowed to this contemporaneous construction, and the practice of Congress under it, has, in another connection, been adverted to. And a majority of the court are of opinion, that a regulation of pilots is a regulation of commerce, within the grant to Congress of the commercial power, contained in the third clause of the eighth section of the first article of the Constitution.
We are of opinion that this state law was enacted by virtue of a power, residing in the state to legislate; that it is not in conflict with any law of Congress; that it does not interfere with any system which Congress has established by making regulations, or by intentionally leaving individuals to their own unrestricted action; that this law is therefore valid, and the judgment of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania in each case must be affirmed.