Mr. Hale to Mr. Seward

No. 24.]

Sir: Delegates of various chambers of commerce, to the number of about one hundred, assembled here about a fortnight ago, on the invitation of Mr. de Lesseps, for the purpose of visiting the works of the Suez canal. They set out on the morning of the 7th instant, and have this day returned.

The number of accredited members of the party was eighty-five, from fourteen different countries. There were ten official representatives of governments; sixty-two chambers of commerce, and eight other societies or organizations were represented by their delegates.

Of our own citizens among the party were Messrs. Cyrus W. Field, delegate of the Chamber of Commerce of the city of New York, and Washington Ryer, representing the State of California.

I enclose a translation of the report subscribed by the delegates. They speak of the completion of the work as merely a matter of time and money.

* * * * * *

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State.


We, the undersigned, delegates of the chambers of commerce to the canal of Suez, after having examined the works already done, and having taken into consideration the possibility of the enterprise, report:

We started the 7th instant from Alexandria, by railroad, for Cairo, where we remained until the morning of the 9th. We then proceeded by railroad to Zagazig, where we embarked at 9 o’clock a. m., in boats drawn by mules and camels, on the fresh-water canal made by Mehemet Ali, and arrived the same day at Tel-el-Kebir, a station of the company.

The 10th, in the morning, we continued our journey in the same manner, and at noon we entered upon the fresh-water canal made by the company. At 5 o’clock p. m. we arrived at Ismailia, the central station on the Suez canal.

The 11th, we remained at Ismailia to examine the works there, as well as those of Serapium, the most elevated points of the isthmus.

The 12th, we started from Ismailia, by the sea canal, in boats of small draught drawn by mules and camels; we arrived at Kantara at 4 o’clock p. m, having visited the important workshops and works of El Gaisr and El Terdan. From this point, in many places, and for a length altogether of sixty kilometres, (about thirty-six miles,) the canal is already excavated to its full width. The portion previously traversed was only about one-third of the width proposed.

The 13th, we left Kantara, in the same way, for Port Said; twenty kilometres (twelve miles) before reaching this place we found five small steamboats, which brought us to the Mediterranean. There we examined the piers in course of construction.

The 14th, we remained at Port Said to visit the important buildings, workshops [and materials which the company possessed in that town.

The 15th, we returned by boat to Ismailia, and the 16th, in the morning, we started for Suez by the fresh-water canal in boats drawn by mules and camels, arriving at Suez in the evening. The two locks, intended to connect the sea canal with the fresh-water canal in the course of construction at Ismailia, are not yet finished, and a transshipment here is now necessary.

Our passage from the Mediterranean to the Red sea was accomplished in twenty-seven hours, as follows: eleven hours from Port Said to Ismailia, and sixteen hours thence to Suez.

A telegraph wire extends the whole length of the canal, communicating with the wires of Cairo, Alexandria, and Suez.

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During our voyage we had opportunity to observe the excavators and other machinery used for digging the canal. All the works belonging to the company appeared to us built and equipped in a solid and permanent manner. In our opinion, the construction of a ship canal across the Isthmus is only a question of time and money.

We are informed that the company has already made contracts with various contractors for the completion of the ship canal by the 1st of July, 1868, without exceeding the actual capital, including therein the indemnity due by the Egyptian government under the award of the Emperor Napoleon III.

During the whole of our trip we received the greatest hospitality from Mr. de Lesseps and the engineers of the company, and these gentlemen answered freely all the questions which we put to them.

[Signed by the delegates.]