The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Great Britain ( Houghton )

No. 368

Sir: The Department refers to its instruction No. 29 of May 28, 1925,7 regarding the difficulties encountered by certain American archaeological interests in the continuance of their excavation and research work in Egypt as a result of the regulations governing the issuance of excavation permits put into effect in the fall of 1924 by the Egyptian Antiquities Service. You will recall that a copy of this instruction was also sent to the Embassy in Paris to the end that the cooperation of the French as well as of the British Government might be obtained in the proposed representations to the Egyptian Government.

In its reply No. 225 [255] of August 8, 1925,7 the Embassy reported that Mr. Chamberlain had expressed himself as much interested and in sympathy with the proposals of this Government, but that a definite reply from the Foreign Office could not be expected for some time because of the necessity of referring the proposals to the British authorities in Egypt. For your information in this connection, there is enclosed a copy of a letter addressed under date of November 6, 19257 to Mr. A.M. Lythgoe, Curator of the Egyptian Expedition of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, by Sir Frederick Kenyon, Director of the British Museum and Chairman of the Joint Archaeological Committee which, the Department understands, acts in an advisory capacity to the British Foreign Office in all matters relating to archaeological research and exploration. In this letter Sir Frederick states in part:

“I have good reason to believe that our Foreign Office, though unwilling, for reasons which I have explained to you, to make the first move in the matter, is quite ready to support any action that may be taken by your State Department in Cairo.”

The Department understands from Mr. Lythgoe that the “reasons” which are referred to as prompting this reported attitude of the Foreign Office, are based on a hesitancy to take up at this time matters affecting Egypt which are not of major political importance to British policy in that country.

With reference to the attitude of the French Government in this matter, you are informed that the Embassy in Paris reported, under date of July 16, 1925,8 [Page 64]

“that the French Government agrees with the American Government in attaching the greatest value to the continuance of archaeological research in Egypt and that the French representative in Cairo has been requested to inform the Foreign Office as to what he deems the most efficacious means of supporting the proposals of our Government.”

Later, under date of September 22, 1925, the Embassy in Paris reported in its despatch No. 5557 of September 23, 1925,10 a copy of which was furnished your mission, that

“the Minister of Foreign Affairs is willing to join with the American and British Governments in making representations regarding the rights of foreign archaeologists in Egypt.”

From the foregoing and as a result of recent conversations with certain interested American archaeologists regarding the desirability of early action in this matter, it now appears to the Department that it may properly proceed with representations along the lines of those proposed in its instruction of May 28, 1925. To this end the Department has prepared and encloses for your information a copy of a draft note11 which it is submitting to the American Minister at Cairo with a view to its presentation to the Egyptian Government in the event that no circumstances meanwhile develop which would make desirable any modification of the action proposed.

The Department desires, therefore, that the Embassy again discuss this matter with the Foreign Office, furnishing it in confidence with a copy of this draft note and inquiring whether it is willing at this time to instruct its representative at Cairo to support the proposed representations of this Government as set forth therein. In view, however, of the very considerable American interests involved and the importance of securing early consideration by the Egyptian Government of the suggestions contained in the enclosed draft note, the Department would be disposed to instruct the Legation at Cairo to proceed with the proposed representations even though the British Government might not feel that it could directly associate itself with such a move at this time.

In bringing these considerations to the attention of the Foreign Office, the Department desires you to state that a similar inquiry is being made addressed through the American Embassy in Paris to the French Government which, in principle, has already indicated its willingness to join with the British and American Governments in the proposed representations to the Egyptian Government. You should add that the American Minister in Cairo has been directed to furnish his British and French colleagues with copies of the enclosed draft note.

[Page 65]

A copy of an instruction of even date addressed in this connection to the Embassy in Paris is also enclosed for your information and guidance.12

You should report briefly by telegraph the results of the further representations which, in accordance with the foregoing instruction, the Department desires you to make in this matter to the British Foreign Office.

I am [etc.]

For the Secretary of State:
Joseph C. Grew
  1. Not printed.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Not printed.
  4. Despatch No. 5389, not printed.
  5. Not printed.
  6. Supra.
  7. Infra.