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United States Department of State / Papers relating to foreign affairs, accompanying the annual message of the president to the second session thirty-eighth congress
(1864)

Belgium,   pp. 226-266 PDF (15.5 MB)


Page 236

23 6                 DIPLOMATIC     CORRESPONDENCE. 
draft, and also all foreigners who, born in Belgium of foreign parents, claim
the 
quality of Belgians according to art. 13 of the "code civil."*
The annual levy is distributed among the provinces and ciommunes in pro-
portion to the number of men inscribed for the levy, deduction being made
of 
those who are in the service as volunteers.f 
Every person has the right to furnish a substitute (remplicant) in lieu of
service, or to exchange numbers with another on the same list (substitut)
under 
conditions securing their respectability and fitness for service.  The person
fur- 
nishing a substitute is responsible for him during the whole time of service;
hel 
may, however, free himself from this responsibility on condition of paying
into 
the treasury the sum of 150 florins, ($60.) 
The, term of service is eight years, but more than half that time is spent
on 
furlough. Those in the infantry generally serve only two years and a half;
in 
the artillery three or four years, and those in the cavalry four or five
years.ยง 
The number of young men inscribed each year for the draft is, on an average,
about 44,000. After deducting the final and temporary exemptions, the figure
of 44,000 is reduced to about 28,000; the exceptions granted, therefore,
amount 
to about thirty-six per cent. of the yearly contingent.11  Belgium  could,
how- 
ever, whilst repecting vested rights, put on foot every year about 30,000
young 
soldiers, i. e., three times the amount of levy made for more than twenty
years 
past. 
Exemptions. 
Exemptions are temporary or definitive; they are physical defects [ or family
relations. Physical defects are decided upon by medical men, and exemptions
granted on the production of documents signed by the burgomaster and two
members of the common council. The letter of the law must be strictly held
to with regard to exemptions; they can under no pretext be extended by anal-
ogy.   Where parentage is a cause of exemption it must be legitimate. 
Persons condemned to infamous punishment cannot be admitted into the army
unless they have been legally rehabilitated. 
Definitive exemptions are given to- 
1st. Those who, having attained the age of twenty-two, are below one metre
.570 millimetre in height.** 
*The bill now before the Chambers proposes, moreover, to include in the draft
foreigners 
born and settled in Belgium, or whose parents are settled there, and all
other foreigners who 
having resided in Belgium for more than two years, have not completed their
twenty-third 
year, and belong to a country where Belgians are liable to military service.
See page 18 of the annexed document for the motives given by the committee
to justify 
the proposal., 
t The same system prevails in France, except that the levy is distributed
by cantons. 
t The new bill has in some degree modified the enactments of the existing
legislation in 
this respect. 
I  The term of service is twenty years in Russia, ten years in Austria, seven
years in France, 
six years in Bavaria, Saxony, the Duchy of Baden, aifd Wurtemburg, five years
in Holland. 
In Prussia the length of service is only three years, and it is reduced to
one year for those 
who equip and keep themselves at their own expense. 
11 It will be seen by the annexed table (A) that the average of definitive
exemption from 
the years 1859 to 1861 was eight per cent., and of temporary exemptions about
twenty-eight 
per cent. of the number inscribed. The number of men supplied on the contingent
for three 
years was, on an average, 8,785; the number of men furnished from previous
levies 1,023, 
and that of those who did not present themselves 192. 
The disease and infirmities which give rise to the exemptions are enumerated
in the royal 
decree of 19th January, 1851, a copy of which is hereunto annexed, (B.) 
" This is one centimetre more than in France. The subjoined bill proposes
to exempt, but 
only temporarily, those who are not one metre .565 millimetre in height;
by this modifica- 
tion about 800 young mcn who are now exempted will he included in the annual
contingent. 


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