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United States Department of State / Index to the executive documents of the House of Representatives for the second session of the fiftieth Congress, 1888-'90

Egypt,   pp. 1629-1634 PDF (2.0 MB)

Page 1629

                             No. 1108.
                     Mr. Cardwell to Mr. Rives.
                               I Extract.1
                       OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
             Cairo, Egypt, January 4, 1888. (Received February 1.)
  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 corvde.
  The corvee, as you know, in Egypt applies to labor on river embank-
ments, 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 with-
out public irrigation, as well as public protection against the inroads of
floods, this service is, in my opinion, exceedingly proper. For the Gov-
ernment of Egypt to propose to abolish the corvde 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 oi the corvde, probably under pressure of this idea, but some of
them have held out against its proposed definite enforcement. France
p)ositively refused for a time to sanction the submittal of a decree and
I:suia showed obstinacy, but the powers are now asked to assent to
the proposition to partially suspend the corvde. It contemplates con-
tracts in partial substitution of the corvde, and to make contracts money
muist be used out of the Egyptian treasury. The proposition is to ex-
pend 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. 20i.-Trauslation.]
                            Draught of decree.
  Whereas it is desirable for the agricultural prosperity of Egypt that the
  tion of the corvde tax should be reduuced to the lowest possible limits,
and that, at
  the same, time this should be effected without haviag anvy receipts or
  which are not shown in the budgeti

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