Houston Maritime Museum presents The Jones Act at 100 Years: Celebration or Memorial?
First introduced by Washington Senator Wesley L. Jones, the Merchant Marine Act of 1920 was largely intended to buffer the First World War’s shockwave to international trade and preserve the U.S. shipping industry. Effected into law by the 66th U.S. Congress on June, 5 1920, Section 27 of the Merchant Marine Act, commonly referred to as the Jones Act, established coastwise-trade perimeters for domestic cabotage - the transportation of merchandise or passengers between two U.S. points.
Surviving revisions, recodification, and attempted repeal, the Jones Act has become the subject of fierce controversy. Opponents continue to question its effective application while Jones Act advocates staunchly defend its protectionist purpose and valid intent. This retrospective will examine the historical foundation and theme of the Jones Act, as well as provide insight and timely commentary regarding the coastwise law’s application, enforcement, and future viability.