No. 139.
Mr. Everett to Mr. Evarts

No. 42.]

Sir: Since the discussion on the Eastern question in the Reichstag was dropped, that assembly has occupied itself with the two questions of the reorganization of the chancellor’s department, and of the best means of arranging the taxes to meet the increasing necessities of the Imperial Government arising from increased expenditure and a diminution in the receipts for the past year.

The first of these questions came up by a “projet de loi” presented to the federal council by Prince Bismarck, to the effect that the duties which had been assigned by the constitution to the chancellor of the empire might be intrusted to one or more substitutes, chosen by the Emperor from the members of the federal council, either as regards all his duties or certain specified branches.

This is rendered necessary from the fact that the countersignature of all laws and decrees, as well as the responsibility of the execution of them, falls on the chancellor, and to him likewise are attributed the direction and selection of all the high appointments in the imperial chancery, the marine, the railroads, the posts, and the telegraphs, and there is no provision for any substitute for his signature, though practically such substitution has been employed and tacitly acquiesced in during the last year’s leave of absence of the chancellor. The banking law alone has granted the power of a substitute for countersigning, which is used as an excuse that the law proposed is no innovation. The bill was unanimously adopted by the federal council, on the 21st, as far as regarded appointing German ministers to preside over the departments of foreign affairs, finance, navy, posts, and telegraphs, and Alsace-Lorraine; but justice, the railways, the army, and the public health are excepted. It is supposed that the Prussian ministers of the former departments will be allowed by the Emperor to assume the charge of these new powers which place them under the authority of the chancellor, from which they were formerly free.

This is not acceptable to some of the ministers, who have always been more or less opposed to the centralization ideas of Prince Bismarck. Especially is this the case as regards the Prussian minister of finance, Mr. Camphausen, as appeared in a debate on the 22d February, over the tobacco-tax bill. After a speech by Mr. Camphausen explaining the financial difficulties which the tax was intended to mitigate, the opposition of the assembly to the project was so great that the minister was obliged to state that he should stand or fall with it.

This produced a speech from Prince Bismarck disclaiming the plan as his own, but accepting it as a stepping stone to a tobacco monopoly, which was the plan he personally desired.

It is generally understood that Minister Camphausen has sent in his resignation, but that both the Emperor and Prince Bismarck are very unwilling to accept it. Mr. Camphausen, however, in addition to his tenacity on the tobacco tax, which perhaps might be arranged, objects, it is understood, to being transformed from a Prussian minister to a German one, and makes the tax the excuse for resigning. It is reported that other ministers have followed Mr. Camphausen’s example, but of this there is no confirmation.

Another bill for the new bureau of the chancellor, which figures as a [Page 203] serious item on the budget, came up for debate on the 26th February, and after some debate and an explanation in defense of it by Prince Bismarck was voted by a large majority.

The remaining items of the budget will be debated during the current week.

A summary of the budget is inclosed.

I have, &c.,

[Inclosure in No. 42.—Translation.]

German imperial budget for 1878–’79.

ordinary expenditure.
Marks. Marks.*
Imperial chancellor 104,980 + 49,980
Office of the chancellor 4,221,163 + 90,792
Reichstag 319,700
Office of foreign affairs 6,104,655 + 196,400
Army 327,815,954 + 4,262,556
Navy 25,222,520 + 3,550,447
Justice 806,182 + 7,965
Railroads 272,750
Alsace-Lorraine 171,760
Debt of the empire 7,201,500 + 3,301,400
Court of claims (comptes) 452,910 + 49,044
Pensions 17,853,205 – 216,305
Invalid fund 32,053,157 – 1,515,954
422,600,136 + 9,716,325
Chancellor 3,000 + 3,000
Office of the chancellor 2,617,380 + 886,646
Reichstag 30,000
Foreign affairs 300,000 – 734,050
Posts and telegraphs 12,036,001 + 282,612
Army 29,565,855 – 22,249,569
Navy 36,368,665 + 7,791,665
Cour des comptes 10,000
Railroads 10,102,340 + 6,331,109
Mint 22,700,000 + 14,900,000
Expenses incident to French war 9,995,325 + 11,305,297
Customs and octroi 245,458,300 – 7,595,150
Stamp tax 6,653,100 – 260,900
Posts and telegraphs 14,015,958 + 2,306,322
Railroads 11,350,000 – 1,406,000
Printing 170,300
Imperial bank 1,510,000 – 40,000
Various receipts 7,495,522 – 2,609,636
Invalid fund 32,053,157 – 1,515,954
Excess of previous years 34,663 – 11,493,932
Mint 100,000 – 10,100,100
Interest on funds invested 7,324,208 – 457,270
Additional (extraordinary) 110,591,350 + 7,443,394
Contributions (matricularies) 109,568,365 + 28,459,847
Total 546,323,951

Of the item of additional extraordinary receipts the sum of 81,919,465 marks must be furnished by a loan.

  1. The figures in this column show + and – as compared with the budget for 1877–’78.