The Man Who Remade Alexandria: Once the Classical World's Dominant Port, by the Early 19th Century the City Founded by Alexander the Great Was Seemingly in Terminal Decline. but the Energy and Vision of the Ottoman Governor Muhammad Ali Restored Its Fortunes and, Ultimately, Set Egypt on the Path to Independence

By Mansel, Philip | History Today, December 2010 | Go to article overview

The Man Who Remade Alexandria: Once the Classical World's Dominant Port, by the Early 19th Century the City Founded by Alexander the Great Was Seemingly in Terminal Decline. but the Energy and Vision of the Ottoman Governor Muhammad Ali Restored Its Fortunes and, Ultimately, Set Egypt on the Path to Independence


Mansel, Philip, History Today


[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

In 1806, with a population of just 6,000, the Egyptian port of Alexandria appeared to the French writer and politician Chateaubriand to be 'the saddest and most deserted place in the world'. By 1849 it had become a cosmopolis of 100,000 and Egypt's second capital. The reason for the transformation was Muhammad Ali Pasha's ambition to create a modern Egyptian monarchy.

Like the city's founder, Alexander the Great, Muhammad All came from Macedonia. He was born in 1770, the son of a Turkish tobacco merchant, in the port of Kavalla in what is now northern Greece. He came to Egypt with an Ottoman army in 1801 to expel the French expedition d'Egypte. By 1805, encouraged by the local population's yearning for law and order, he had forced the Ottoman government to appoint him governor of Egypt. By 1811, having massacred the detested military elite of Mamelukes, he had done what other Ottoman officials were hoping to do in other provinces of the empire such as Lebanon or Albania: he had established his own government. By 1819 he was no longer called vali, or governor of Egypt, but His Highness the Viceroy.

Muhammad Ali was 'the founder of modern Egypt'. In 1812 the French consul, his friend Bernardino Drovetti, remarked that he had 'gigantic ideas' and 'eagerly seizes every opportunity to shake the yoke of prejudices'. After 1809 Muhammad Ali was the first non-Christian ruler to send batches of young Egyptian men to be educated in Europe, usually in Italy or France. On the initiative of Drovetti, a system of quarantine to prevent the spread of plague was introduced in Alexandria in 1817, 20 years before it reached the rest of the Ottoman Empire. The pasha's remark in 1825, when permitting Christians to ring church bells in Egypt, that among so many religions it would be a Misfortune if one was not correct, demonstrated an open mind.

Muhammad All was also a merchant. The great Egyptian chronicler al-Jabarti wrote with distaste that the pasha tried to raise money 'by all methods ... He wants his slightest desires to be executed without any comment' and thought only of taking other men's profits. Muhammad Ali often visited Alexandria in order to sell directly to foreign merchants the wheat, rice and other vegetables which he had requisitioned from Egyptians in exchange for gold, tin, iron, textiles and other European goods. He then sold them on to Egyptian merchants at prices fixed by himself. The English radical journalist and traveller lames St John found that among foreigners 'every look, word or smile of the pasha is subjected to an arithmetical calculation to ascertain its value in piastres [Egyptian pounds]'.

By 1810, despite decrees prohibiting the export of wheat from the Ottoman Empire, the wheat exported through Alexandria was feeding Wellington's army during the Peninsular War which began in 1808. By 1811 Muhammad All was believed to be the richest pasha in the empire and refused to obey orders from the Ottoman government which went against his own interests. By 1817 tile port of Alexandria presented, in the words of the English traveller Robert Richardson, a doctor who accompanied the Earl of Belmore on a grand tour of the Levant, 'an active scene of ship building, vessels loading and taking in their cargoes, with heaps of grain and bales of goods piled up along the shore'. Alexandria's rival ports of Damietta and Rosetta lost importance.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

In 1811 Muhammad Ali spent six weeks in Alexandria, in 1812 two months, in 1818 four months. By 1822 he was said to be spending all his time there and that year the consuls-general moved their offices from Cairo to Alexandria. So different in character to its inland rival, Alexandria became Egypt's unofficial capital, as much a synonym for its government as London and Paris were for the governments of Britain and France.

Muhammad Ali believed in employing Frenchmen in Egypt, as well as in educating Egyptians in France. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

The Man Who Remade Alexandria: Once the Classical World's Dominant Port, by the Early 19th Century the City Founded by Alexander the Great Was Seemingly in Terminal Decline. but the Energy and Vision of the Ottoman Governor Muhammad Ali Restored Its Fortunes and, Ultimately, Set Egypt on the Path to Independence
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.