The Secretary of State to the Minister in Egypt ( Fish )

No. 84

Sir: The Department has received and has given careful consideration to your despatches No. 203 of February 14, and No. 204 of February 15, 1935, in regard to the reorganization of the municipal government of Alexandria.

From a study of the relevant documents it appears that the United States was one of the Powers which, in response to a circular note from the Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs dated May 16, 1889,23 assented to the Organic Decree of 1890, establishing the Municipality of Alexandria. By instruction No. 175 of June 15, 1889,24 the Department authorized the American Agent and Consul General at Cairo to give “the usual qualified assent” to the Decree, and, under date of July 8, 1889, the Agent and Consul General addressed the following note to the Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs:

“No. 1136

Agency & Consulate General
of the United States of America,
Cairo, July 8th, 1889

“Excellency: In response to your circular note, No. 343, of May 16th, last, I have the honor to inform you that the Government of the United States instructs me to signify to the Government of His Highness, the Khedive, that it adheres to the proposed decree, having for its object the creation of a Municipal government for the City of Alexandria; provided, that in its operation no discrimination shall be exercised against citizens of the United States.

“I am, Excellency, with the highest consideration,

“Your most obedient servant,

John Caldwell,
“Agent & Consul General.

[Page 581]

“To His Excellency, Tulificar Pasha,

Minister of Foreign Affairs,


(Enclosure with despatch No. 302, July 8, 1889.)

It will be noted from the foregoing that the adherence of the United States was not limited to any particular article or articles but applied to the full text of the Decree. There appears to be nothing in the correspondence on the subject which supports the contention of the Egyptian Government and the British Residency to the effect that the assent of the capitulatory powers was requested only with respect to Article 31 and part of Article 40, both of which relate to taxation.…

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Accordingly, the Department is in substantial accord with the views expressed in the notes presented to the Egyptian Government by the Belgian, Italian and French Legations, referred to in your despatches under acknowledgment. However, since the fiscal provisions of the Organic Decree do not appear to have been altered, it would seem that the situation of American nationals, from a practical point of view, will not be materially affected. If this were the only consideration the Department would be inclined to refrain from bringing its views to the attention of the Egyptian Government. It appears to be clear, however, that the action of the Egyptian Government, with the apparent consent of the British Residency, constitutes a further effort to impair existing capitulatory rights by unilateral action. Unless, therefore, you are convinced that no practical advantage would be obtained thereby and that a failure to make reservations would not in any degree adversely affect American interests in Egypt, the Department desires you to enter a reservation of the position of this Government in substantially the same terms adopted by the Italian and Belgian Legations in their notes of February 7, 1935, and February 12, 1935, respectively.

You will please inform the Department of the action taken in this matter and of the reasons impelling you thereto.

Very truly yours,

For the Secretary of State:
William Phillips
  1. British C. 6135, Egypt No. 2 (1890), p. 28.
  2. Not printed.