No. 765.
Mr. Boker to Mr. Fish.

No. 139.]

Sir: I have the honor to say that on the 22d of August, 1873, I received from the minister of foreign affairs the papers of which I herewith [Page 1130] inclose copies and translations. In accordance with the request therein expressed by the minister, on the 23d of August I sent the following telegram to the Department of State:

Constantinople, August 23, 1873.

Fish, Secretary, Washington:

International commission to unify tonnage and fix tonnage-dues of Suez Canal will meet here September 15. Shall I appoint two delegates. All maritime powers will be represented. Our votes important, as opinions are divided. Expenses of delegates must be paid.

BOKER, Minister.

I supposed that it would not be practicable to send delegates to the commission at so short a notice, and I therefore proposed to appoint such qualified persons as I might select from our citizens residing in this city. Inasmuch as there was a division of opinion among the powers, and as Russia, France, Portugal, and perhaps some other of the smaller powers, would side with the Suez Canal Company, and as in this question I had been instructed to follow the policy of Great Britain, I considered that the votes of our delegates would be more important than their views, the former of which I proposed to direct in accordance with the instructions previously received from the, Department.

On the 28th of August I received the following reply to my telegram:

Boker, Minister, Constantinople:

We are not formally invited to take part in the commission.

Acting Secretary.

Washington, August 27.

I had assumed that the Department would understand that I had not acted without authority, or forgotten what was due to the dignity of the United States; hence, from motives of economy, I omitted to telegraph that my dispatch was sent at the request of the Ottoman minister of foreign affairs.

To the above telegram I replied as follows:

Constantinople, August 28, 1873.

Davis, Secretary, Washington.

Formal invitation sent me for transmission. Telegram to Government requested by minister foreign affairs.

BOKER, Minister.

To this dispatch I received to-day, September 4, the following reply:

Boker, Minister, Constantinople:

There seems to be not sufficient time to appoint delegates, and the Treasury Departmentdoes not deem it necessary.


Washington, September 3.

Nothing therefore remains for me todo but to inform, the minister of foreign affairs that, owing to the shortness of his notice, the United States Government will be unable to send delegates to the proposed international commission.

When this dispatch reaches the Department, it will be too late to consider, with any active purpose, either my views or my possible suggestions upon the important subject, as it is universally regarded in Europe, of the Snez Canal tolls, and I shall therefore refrain from any further expressions of opinion concerning the matter. I can but conjecture why the Government of the United States should decline to take part in a commission that will be composed of delegates from all the great commercial powers, and where, as I have before said, votes will be [Page 1131] more valuable than theories, inasmuch as the action of the commission, be it what it may, will not be binding until its advisory decisions have been formally adopted by the various governments which it will represent.

I have, &c,

[Inclosure 1 in No. 139.—Translation.]

Raschid Pasha to Mr. Boker.

Sir: I have the honor to transmit yon herein inclosed a copy of my last circular forwarded to the representatives of the Sublime Porte abroad, with the instruction to notify the governments to which they are accredited of the date of the convocation of the international commission which is to meet at Constantinople with the view of determining a unification of tonnage.

In the absence of the incumbent of the imperial legation at Washington, I deemed it proper to have recourse to your mediation in forwarding this notification to the United States Government. I shall therefore be much obliged if, considering the urgency of the matter, you will communicate by telegraph to the cabinet of Washington the object of the dispatch in question. Accept, sir, &c.,

[Inclosure 2 in No. 139.—Translation.]

His excellency Raschid Pasha to the representatives of the Sublime Porte abroad:

Sir: The decision of the imperial government relative to the dues of the Suez Canal, which I communicated to you by my dispatch dated July 19, sub-No. 35,425,16, foresees the case which might, in consequence of a disagreement as to the application of the principles laiddown by the Sublime Porte, necessitate the resorting to the enlightenment of the international commission for a definitive solution.

In that point of view, the question has, as a matter of course, been added to the prerogatives of the commission, the convocation and initiative of which the imperial government proposed by its circular dated January 1, 1873, sub-No. 33,975, 1. This last proposition having been accepted long ago with earnestness, and Constantinople having been almost unanimously designated as the place of the convocation of the commission, it has been decided that it shall convene on the 15th September proximo, so as to avoid postponing any longer a work the utility of which is felt in so imperative a manner. It has, moreover, been agreed that the participating powers should be entitled to be represented either by one or two delegates, according to their convenience. Be so good as to notify the date of the convocation to the minister of foreign affairs, (Secretary of State,) and beg him to nominate the persons whose mission it shall be to represent the Government of the United States.