No. 1108.
Mr. Cardwell to Mr. Rives.

No. 201.]

Sir: I am in receipt of a note from the minister of foreign affairs for the Egyptian government, asking the adhesion of the Government of the United States to a proposed khedivial decree having for its object partial suppression of the corvée.

The corvée, as you know, in Egypt applies to labor on river embankments, canal excavations, and dikes, ditches, etc., as well as to work on public roads. It is a public measure similar to what is in force in almost every State of the Union. Enforced labor is imposed in the United States for usually not exceeding ten days of every year, while the Egyptian law, except in cases of dangerous emergency, requires service for not exceeding thirty days. In a country without rain, where its agriculturists may work in their fields for three hundred and sixty-five days in the year, and where agriculture could return nothing without public irrigation, as well as public protection against the inroads of floods, this service is, in my opinion, exceedingly proper. For the Government of Egypt to propose to abolish the corvée would entail upon it an expense which would wreck almost any nation. The question has been presented to the world as one in which civilization is involved.

The European powers, signing at London, contemplated indefinite abolition or the corvée, probably under pressure of this idea, but some of them have held out against its proposed definite enforcement. France positively refused for a time to sanction the submittal of a decree and Russia showed obstinacy, but the powers are now asked to assent to the proposition to partially suspend the corvée. It contemplates contracts in partial substitution of the corvée, and to make contracts money must be used out of the Egyptian treasury. The proposition is to expend annually 250,000 Egyptian pounds, the equivalent of $1,250,000, in employing voluntary labor by means of contracts in place of enforced labor for the government. Where it is necessary the thirty days’ limit will remain in full force and be even exceeded.

I am, etc.,

John Cardwell.
[Inclosure in No. 201.—Translation.]

Draught of decree.

Whereas it is desirable for the agricultural prosperity of Egypt that the imposition of the corvée tax should be reduced to the lowest possible limits, and that at the same time this should be effected without buying auv receipts or expenditures which are not shown in the budget;

[Page 1630]

Whereas our government; should, from the year 1887, include in the budgetary returns all sums accruing from the purchase of exemptions from the corvée; also all other receipts, whatever they may be, which may be obtained in the future, and that the employment thereof shall be shown in the expenditure account: We, Khedive of Egypt, with the advice of our ministers and the approval of the powers, have decreed and do now decree:

Article 1. From the year 1887 the sum of 5,237,000 Egyptian pounds, the amount fixed for the annual administrative expenses of the government, shall, in accordance with article 18 of our decree of July 27, 1885, be increased in accordance with the conditions which follow:

From the sums accruing from the purchase of exemptions from the corvée during the preceding years, conformable to our decree of the 25th of January, 1881.
From a sum of 250,000 Egyptian pounds.

These credits will be exclusively applied to works actually executed by means of the corvée. Future budgets will be increased by a sum equal to that which has been placed at the disposal of the ministry of public works by the budget of 1887.

Art. 2. The Caisse de la Dette shall have power to control all such credits opened at the ministry of public works, so as to insure that such have been properly applied.

In regard to the credits of the ordinary budget of the public works, credits which are estimated at 464,623 Egyptian pounds, the Caisse de la Dette shall require as proof of these credits having been properly employed the production of a list, drawn up by chapters and subchapters by the finance ministry, showing that these credits have been entirely expended in payment for public works. For the credits over and above the sum of 5,237,000 Egyptian pounds, that is to say, for the credit of 250,000 Egyptian pounds and for that which will be included in the returns from the purchase of exemptions from corvée, the proper application or employment of the same shall he proved by producing at the Came de la Dette all the accounts justifying the expenditures made.

Art. 3. If the credits of the ordinary budget for public works shall be less than the sum of 464,623 Egyptian pounds, or if this sum has not been entirely expended, the increase of the administrative expenditure authorized by the present decree shall be reduced by a sum equal to the diminution of the credits, or to the amount of the unexpended credits.

Art. 4. The manner in which the above-named sum of 250,000 Egyptian pounds is to be employed and distributed among the different Moordiriehs shall be determined each year by decree. A fair and equitable distribution of this sum is to be made among the various provinces after the Caisse de la Dette has been consulted. If, in the course of the year it shall be found necessary to execute works to meet special and unforeseen circumstances, a new division or distribution of the sum shall be made by the minister of public works, who shall give notice thereof to the Caisse de la Dette. Our minister of public works shall forward us, at the end of each year, a report, which shall be published in the Journal Officiel, setting forth the exact number of corvée days which would have been required of the population and the profit in the reduction of the same as calculated on the average of the last four years, according to the lists published by the Journal Officiel of June 30, 1886.

Art. 5. The administrative expenses, authorized by the decree of July 27, 1885, can be increased by drawing on the sums necessary for the working of the petroleum mines, such increase not to exceed the sum of 40,000 Egyptian pounds in 1887, and for succeeding years the amount yielded by the mines.

Art. 6. Our ministers of finance and public works are intrusted, in so far as it concerns them, with the execution of the present decree.

Done at the palace _______ the _______ of ______, 188—.

By the Khedive:

______ _______,
The President of the Council of Ministers.
______ _______,
Minister of Finance.
______ _______,
Minister of Public Works.