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The document issued on behalf of the carrier describing the kind and quantity of goods being shipped, the shipper, the consignee, the ports of loading and discharge and the carrying vessel.
A memorandum or acknowledgment in writing, signed by the captain or master of a ship or other vessel, that he has received in good order, on board of his ship or vessel, therein named, at the place therein mentioned, certain goods therein specified, which he promises to deliver in like good order, (the dangers of the seas excepted,) at the place therein appointed for the delivery of the same, to the consignee therein named or to his assigns, he or they paying freight for the same. Or it is the written evidence of a contract for the carriage and delivery of goods sent by sea for a certain freight.
A bill of lading ought to contain the name of the consignor; the name of the consignee the name of the master of the vessel; the name of the vessel; the place of departure and destination; the price of the freight; and in the margin, the marks and numbers of the things shipped.
It is usually made in three original's, or parts. One of them is commonly sent to the consignee on board with the goods; another is sent to him by mail or some other conveyance; and the third is retained by the merchant or shipper. The master should also take care to have another part for his own use.
The bill of lading is assignable, and the assignee is entitled to the goods, subject, however, to the shipper's right, in some cases, of stoppage in transitu.