In 1866 the State of New York passed a law to protect sailors from unscrupulous and dishonest boarding house keepers.
A license was required to own or run any sailors' boarding house or sailors' hotel.
The fee for the license, after expenses, was to be applied for the relief of shipwrecked and destitute seamen.
The law prohibited, any person other than a pilot, to board an arriving ship without express permission to do so. This was to prevent hard-selling or sweet-talking representatives of boarding houses from trying to get customers even before the ship landed.
The law created a board authorized to revoke the license of any sailors' hotel or boarding house where there was evidence of:
force, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation in inviting or soliciting boarders or lodgers … or of any attempt to persuade or entice any of the crew to desert from any vessel in the harbor of New York, by such keeper or proprietor, or any of his agents, runners, or employees
Text of the regulation as printed in the 1902 Annual Report of the Commissioner of Navigation
AN ACT For the better protection of seamen in the port and harbor of New York. Passed March 21, 1866. As amended June 8, 1877.
The people of the State of New York, represented in senate and assembly, do enact as follows:
SECTION 1. It shall not be lawful for any person, except a pilot or public officer, to board, or attempt to board, a vessel arriving in the port or harbor of New York, before such vessel shall have been made fast to the wharf, without first obtaining leave from the master or person having charge of such vessel, or leave in writing from her owner or agents.
SEC. 2. It shall not be lawful for any owner, agent, master, or other person having charge of any vessel arriving or being in the port of New York to permit or authorize any sailors' hotel or boarding-house keeper not licensed as hereinafter provided, or any agent, runner, or employee of any sailors' hotel or boarding-house keeper, to board, or attempt to board, any vessel arriving in or laying, or being in the harbor or port of New York, before such vessel shall have been made fast to the wharf or anchored, with intent to invite, ask, or solicit the boarding of any of the crew employed on such vessel.
SEC. 3. It shall not be lawful for any sailors' hotel or sailors' boarding-house keeper, or the employees of any sailors' hotel or boarding-house keeper, to engage in the business of shipping seamen for any vessel, nor for any such person, having boarded any vessel made fast to any wharf in the port of New York, to neglect or refuse to leave said vessel after having been ordered so to do by the master or person having charge of such vessel.
SEC. 4. It shall not be lawful for any person to keep, conduct, or carry on, either as owner, proprietor, agent, or otherwise, any sailors' boarding house or sailors' hotel in the city of New York or city of Brooklyn without having the license in this act provided.
SEC. 5. It shall not be lawful for any person not having the license in this act provided, or not being the regular agent, runner, or employee of a person having such license, to invite, ask, or solicit, in the city or harbor of New York or city of Brooklyn, the boarding or lodging of any of the crew employed on any vessel.
SEC. 6. There shall be, and is hereby, created, a board denominated a board of commissioners for licensing sailors' hotels or boarding houses in the cities of New York and Brooklyn, consisting of one person, to lie selected by each of the following corporate bodies or associations, respectively, to wit: The Chamber of Commerce of the State of New York, the American Seamen's Friend Society in New York, the New York Board of Underwriters, the Marine Society of New York, the Society for Promoting the Gospel among Seamen in the Port of New York, and the Shipowners' Association of the State of New York.
SEC. 7. Such board shall organize for the transaction of business as soon as practicable after the passage of this act. They shall take the application of any person applying for a license to keep a sailors' boarding house or sailors' hotel in the city of New York, and upon satisfactory evidence to them of the respectability and competency of such applicant, and of the suitableness of his accommodations, shall issue to him a license which shall be good for one year unless sooner revoked by said board, to keep a sailors' boarding house in the city of New York or Brooklyn, and to invite and solicit boarders to the same.
SEC. 8. Such board may, upon satisfactory evidence of the disorderly character of any sailors' hotel or boarding house, licensed as hereinbefore provided, or of the keeper or proprietor of any such house, or of any force, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation in inviting or soliciting boarders or lodgers for such house, on the part of such keeper or proprietor, or of any of his agents, runners, or employees, or of any attempt to persuade or entice any of the crew to desert from any vessel in the harbor of New York, by such keeper or proprietor, or any of his agents, runners, or employees, revoke the license for keeping such house.
SEC. 9. Every person receiving the license hereinbefore provided for shall pay to the board of commissioners aforesaid the sum of twenty dollars, which, after deducting the actual expenses of said board incurred in the transaction of the business, which expenses shall not exceed the sum of fifteen hundred dollars, shall be by them applied for the relief of shipwrecked and destitute seamen. Said board shall file on the second Monday of January of each year, in the office of the clerk of the city and county of New York, a statement showing the number of licenses issued, the names of persons to whom issued, with name and number of the street of house licensed during the year preceding, the amount of money received therefor, the amount and items of their disbursements, and the amount distributed by them as hereinbefore directed.
SEC. 10. The said board shall appoint a president and secretary and shall keep an office in the city of New York, and make such by-laws and regulations as may be needful for the orderly conduct of its business not inconsistent with the constitution and laws of this State.
SEC. 11. The said board shall furnish to each sailors' hotel or boarding-house keeper licensed by them as aforesaid one or more badges or shields, on which shall be printed or engraved the name of such hotel or boarding-house keeper, and the number and street of his hotel or boarding house; and which said badges or shields shall be surrendered to said board upon the revocation by them or expiration of any license granted by them as herein provided.
SEC. 12. Every sailors' hotel or boarding-house keeper, and every agent, runners or employee of such hotel or boarding-house keeper, when boarding a vessel in the harbor of New York, or when inviting or soliciting the boarding or lodging of any seamen, sailor, or person employed on any vessel, shall wear conspicuously displayed the shield or badge referred to in the foregoing section.
SEC. 13. It shall not be lawful for any person except, those named in the preceding sections to wear, to have, exhibit, or display any such shield or badge to any of the crew employed on any vessel with the intent to invite, ask, or solicit the boarding or lodging of any of the crew employed on any vessel being in the harbor of New York.
SEC. 14. Whoever shall offend against any or either of the provisions contained in sections 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 12, and 13 in this act, and any commissioner appointed under this act who shall directly or indirectly receive any gratuity or reward, other than as herein provided for, or on account of any license under this act, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and shall upon conviction thereof be punished by imprisonment in a county jail for a term not exceeding one year and not less than thirty days, or by a fine not exceeding two hundred and fifty dollars and not less than one hundred dollars, or by both such fine and imprisonment.
SEC. 15. The word "vessel," as used in this act, shall include vessels propelled by steam.
SEC. 16. This act shall take effect on the first day of May next.
First. The proprietor must keep a journal, in which shall lie entered forthwith the names of each guest, and his vessel and the port from which she came, on his arrival, and the name of his vessel and the port to which she is bound (or his other destination) on his departure. Books of accounts must also be kept, in which shall be entered at the time every item charged to the guest. Such books must be opened to the inspection of this board at all times.
Second. Any proprietor proven to have abducted or harbored without just cause any seaman who, as a guest, is indebted to any other boarding house, or to have aided in defrauding the proprietor of such other boarding house by inducing any seaman lawfully indebted to him to surreptitiously leave his house, or to leave any vessel about to depart, or proven to have entered into any combination with intent to impede commerce and navigation, or to violate any existing laws, shall thereby forfeit his license.
Third. Every proprietor shall forthwith furnish this board with the name of each runner employed by him, and his residence, as soon as employed, and notify the board at once of his discharge, and shall compel such runner to wear at all times, when engaged in soliciting boarders or lodgers, the badge furnished by this board, and every proprietor shall be held strictly responsible for the acts of his runner.
Fourth. This board shall regulate the number of seamen to occupy each sleeping room, and it may place on inside of each bedroom door a notice showing the proper number to sleep in such room, which notice must not be removed or concealed; and the entire house must be at all times open for the inspection of the board.
Fifth. Attention is called to the U. S. laws on these subjects. All licensed proprietors or keepers are hereby warned to abstain from acts of violence or boycott against others in the same business, it being recognized that all persons lawfully entitled by license to lodge or solicit seamen are equally entitled to the full protection of the board and courts.
Sixth. The license and regulations of this board must be posted in a conspicuous position in each house, where they can at all times be seen and read by any person visiting the premises.
All complaints should be reported immediately to the secretary, at the office of the board, 3 State street, New York. Office hours, 4 to 5 p. in., except Saturdays.
0. EGERTON SCHMIDT, President,
J. WHEELER HARDLEY, Treasurer.