No. 800.
Mr. Beardsley to Mr. Fish.

No. 224.]

Sir: On reference to my dispatches of last spring, I discover that 1 failed to report the important fact of the imposition of local taxes, upon the personal property of foreigners residing in Egypt. I prepared a dispatch on the subject at the time, but it seems not to have been forwarded.

Heretofore foreigners in Egypt have been exempt from all local taxes, and the idea generally prevailed that this exemption was in virtue of the capitulations or treaties. When the new taxes were announced, there was of course a general protest against the action of the government on the part of all foreigners, and an appeal to consular authority and protection. No citizen of the United States being affected by the government’s action, no appeal or protest was made to me.

Most of the governments having representatives in Egypt have quietly accepted the new taxes for their subjects in Egypt$ that is to say, they have not opposed the action of the Egyptian government.

As a matter of fact, but few of the new taxes have been collected, and the order imposing them is almost a dead letter, for the reason that the government has no authority over foreigners under the present system of consular jurisdiction, and no power to enforce the payment of taxes.

The consul may say to the Egyptian authorities, “Yes, it is very just that foreigners in Egypt, who enjoy all the benefits of her prosperity, should contribute to the support of the government which promotes that prosperity by paying their proportion of local taxation, but I cannot be [Page 1198] your tax-collector. If the citizens of the government which I represent do not pay their taxes promptly you have my full permission to collect them as best you can, but you must not lay a hand on their persons or their property, and the violation of any right secured by the capitulations will be promptly reported to my government.”

Of course, under these circumstances, it is impossible to collect the new taxes by force. Many foreigners pay them freely and promptly, recognizing the justice of their imposition, but the majority refuse to pay

France is the only first-class power which seriously contests the right of the Egyptian government to impose these taxes on the personal property of foreigners, and she appeals to the capitulations. It so happens, however, that there is nothing in the treaties between France and Turkey which can be fairly construed as an exemption from taxation of French citizens in Turkey.

France therefore appeals to the most-favored-nation clause, and refers to the thirteenth article of the treaty between Great Britain and Turkey, which, translated, reads: “All English, or subjects of England, married or not married, who may live or reside in our states, whether they be artisans or merchants, shall be exempt from every species of tribute.” She also refers to a clause in the treaty with Russia, (article 2,) which is something to the same purpose, although not so definite.

Her appeal to the most favored clause is, however, weakened by the fact that both England and Russia have accepted, without opposition, the imposition of the new taxes.

I inclose herewith a list of the taxes referred to, which are to be paid annually by foreigners and natives alike.

I am, &c,


List of taxes imposed upon the personal property of foreigners in Egypt.

Carriages with 4 wheels and 2 horses, about $15
Carriages with 2 wheels and 1 horses, about
Carriages with 4 wheels and 1 horse, about 12
A horse or mule 3
A donkey 2
Wagons with 4 wheels and 2 horses 12
Wagons with 2 wheels and 1 horse
Carts with 2 animals for carrying stone
Carts with 1 animals for carrying stone 5
Carts with 1 animals for carrying merchandise 7
Carts with 2 animals for carrying merchandise 8
Carts with 1 horse for carrying 4
Carts with 1 ass tor carrying stone, earth, and every other Kind or cart of the same nature
Carriages with 4 wheels from training horses, omnibuses, and similar vehicles.

Animals employed as packhorses in mills or at other work.

A horse or mule
An ox, cow, or other similar animal 4
A camel 6
An ass used for carrying luggage 2

The proprietor of every rented house must pay an annual tax equal to the amount of one month’s rent of the house.