In 1886, Nix (plaintiff) imported tomatoes from the West Indies to New York City. Hedden (defendant), the collector of the Port of New York, collected import duties on the tomatoes in accordance with the Tariff Act of 1883 (Act). The Act imposed a duty on vegetables but exempted fruits. In 1887, Nix brought suit to recover the duties he had paid on the tomatoes, claiming that because tomatoes were fruits, the tomatoes should not have been subject to the tariff. The federal circuit court held in favor of Hedden. The United States Supreme Court accepted a writ of error.