Mr. McMath to Mr. Seward.

No. 61.]

Sir: In reply to your dispatch No. 38, dated the 12th ultimo, I have the honor to transmit herewith a copy of so much of the sanitary circular as relates to the question of precedence which has arisen among the members of the representative corps in this city. In submitting this lengthy paper I deem it proper to offer a few remarks which I consider necessary to a proper understanding of the question.

Previous to the advent among us of the minister of France, and for some time thereafter, the corps of representatives was guided in all matters of business and ceremony, either among themselves or collectively, with the Moorish authorities, by the rule of perfect equality, except in the single instance of attending in a body the funeral of a deceased colleague or other foreign employé.

In matters of business which require the presence of all chiefs of missions, they met, turn by turn, at the residence of each other; and when it became necessary to make a collective written representation to the Moorish authorities, the chief at whose residence the document was written would first sign, and the rest would follow in alphabetical order in the French language. You will oblige me by referring to my dispatch No. 27, dated May 15, 1865, and you will see a copy of “the collective opinion of the representatives of foreign powers in Morocco,” addressed to the minister of foreign affairs. That opinion was written at the residence of the Belgian consul general, and signed by us in the order mentioned. Up to that date and until after we had signed the convention concerning Cape Spartel light-house, and even subsequent to that transaction, the old rule of perfect equality without distinction of grade had been adhered to by all the representatives, with the single exception above mentioned. Anterior to the date of the convention of 31st May, 1865, between his Majesty the Sultan and the Christain powers, and while the same was in course of preparation, it became necessary for its accomplishment to hold conferences for the purpose of perfecting it and the “regulations,” for the control and maintenance of the light-house. They were held turn by turn at the residence of the several representa fives taking part in the convention. The minister of France participated on terms of perfect equality at the respective legations and consulates. He consented to the regulations which gave the presidency of the commission to each of the representatives in alphabetical order, commencing with the consul general of Belgium, and after its form and the regulations made in pursuance of its terms were completed, adherence to the old rule caused us to meet at the residence of the Belgian consul general for the purpose of signing and sealing the same. It was signed and [Page 165] sealed in the order indicated, commencing in this instance with the copy for Austria—the English minister is the agent general for that power; and I am not aware that any objection was raised by the minister of France to this manner of transacting business, in which all had an equal and common interest, and which involved a question of ceremony as well. The convention was exchanged at the ministry of foreign affairs; on that occasion the first exchange was made and certified between Morocco and Austria, other nations following in the order mentioned. It is certainly strange that he did not assert the privilege of his high grade on these several occasions, and be first in business and ceremony. The Morocco board of health, a creation of one of the former Sultans, is composed of the representatives of foreign powers. Its presidency passes monthly by turn to each chief of mission. If the treaty of Vienna, to which the Sultan is not a party, gives precedence to the minister of France, in that event he would become not only the permanent president of the board of health, but of the international commission as well, simply because that treaty applies to matters of business as well as ceremony, and the minister has already declared, as you will see, that he will never go to an official reunion at the house of any of us. In view of the past I do not think his official dignity would be compromised if he were in the future to attend reunions at the residence of those whom he is pleased to designate as his true colleagues, or that other class whom he regards simply as commercial agents. “Everything for the minister, the minister for France,” seems now to be his motto. While writing my opinion in the circular I had my mind fixed on the business matters above mentioned, but I made no reference to them, I did declare a fact with regard to the first ceremonial visit, and I then assumed the position that the minister was not our dean, and I still think he is not, in the sense that he uses the word. No one will know better than yourself whether or not I was accredited by President Lincoln to his Majesty the Emperor of Morocco. The minister thinks I was not; for he declared in the presence of all the chiefs that a number of us had identically the same positions as a consul general—commercial agent—under the orders of a legation in a capital. I claim that our official positions—and I now speak of consuls general chiefs of missions—in this country are quite different from what they would be if we were residing in a civilized country, and invested with the same title which we hold here. This difference, however, does not arise from title, but from the exceptional state of society in which we find ourselves charged with complex functions and extraordinary powers under our titles. The minister of France is not, nor from the nature of things can he be, the repository of a greater trust, or charged with greater responsibility. He is a minister, and also a consul, and he discharges daily or when necessary the duties pertaining to the latter office. We are called upon to discharge the duties of a higher grade, but we receive the designation of a lower one.

No one denies his high grade, but I feel safe in saying none of his colleagues, true or otherwise, would consent to sink their official character in the presence of the minister of foreign affairs and let him be their collective mouthpiece. We stand upon an equal footing before this government, and the minister of foreign affairs treats us all with the same degree of respect and consideration. I am a consul, but I am designated by everybody as a consul general. The minister of foreign affairs shows me the same respect and esteem that he shows to the minister of France, for the simple reason that while the latter is charged to confer with him on matters pertaining to France, I am charged to confer with him on matters pertaining to the United States. The minister of foreign affairs looks no further.

[Page 166]

Throughout this controversy I have been guided by the single consideration of maintaining intact the dignity of the representative of the United States in this country. Nothing more, nothing less.

I have the honor to be, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.

Extract from a circular dated the 11th July, 1868, addressed by the Spanish charge d’affaires, president, during the month of July, of the Moorish board of health.

As the question in dispute among us can only be settled by agreement of the foreign representatives, the French minister, as dean of the corps, will determine what is to be done, and I will accept any invitation he may be pleased to send me.


Tangier, July 14, 1868.

The question of the incompetency of the board in police sanitary affairs, away from the sea shore, having been decided affirmatively, I deem it my duty to issue the present circular, so that our archives may contain a document fixing the faculties of our board.


Seen and approved.

W. KIRBY GREEN, For the British Minister.

Seen and signed by—


Seen. I maintain now, as always, that our sanitary board is supreme over all questions of sanitary care, be they maritime or internal; and I entertain the hope that my honorable colleagues will yet come to the same conclusion.


Seen and approved.


Seen and approved for my conclusions definitely adopted.


Seen and approved.

W. KIRBY GREEN, For the British Minister.

Seen. I now approve, as I always have done, the opinion of our honorable colleague of the United States; yet, for the public good, I have agreed to separate the powers and duties of our sanitary board. Before signing it, however, I must put one question to our honorable dean. I will begin by declaring that I am pleased that the public hygiene on land is intrusted to the direction of the French minister, who has my whole sympathy as an individual as well as the representative of a government that I honor in the highest degree; but, as a representative of Italy, I must ask him if the title of dean comprises the rank held by the representative or otherwise. If the diplomatic representatives only can hold the place of dean, then only the representatives of Spain, France, and Great Britain can preside over the representative meetings of foreign powers in Morocco, and I cannot agree to that.

To remove all present doubt, and to prevent the establishment of a precedent insulting to Italy, I ask our honorable president if he will agree that the title of dean be hereafter given, without distinction of grade, to the oldest representative, beginning to-day with the representative of the imperial government.


I will delay the expression of my opinion about the power of our board till we have passed through the present sanitary crisis. My whole effort now is to preserve this city and the country from an invasion of the cholera; I am willing to resort to any means.


Seen and approved for the second and last time. I await the decision of the French minister.


Seen only, as I have already approved.


Seen and signed.


[Page 167]

I confess that I take up the pen very unwillingly on a subject that ought to have been settled by the present circular, or by the resolutions already adopted by the foreign representatives. The Italian agent and the consul general of Portugal agree in opinion with the consul general of the United States, that the board of health ought to be limited to its original duties, notwithstanding its assent to the new state of affairs adopted in March last. I will, therefore, leave untouched a question which I consider settled.

Though this is not the place to answer certain interrogatories propounded to me, I will merely say to the Italian agent that I have never accepted, as my colleagues know, any direction in the land hygiene. By request I expressed our views to the local authorities, declaring solemnly at the time that I assumed no responsibility for the execution of the requests. I, therefore, politely refuse the responsibility which Count Castelli-nard wishes me to assume.

In reply to the question of the Italian agent, as dean of the corps, I refer him to the treaty of Vienna, which settled the question of precedence. If Count Castellinard will take the trouble to read that international treaty, I think he will be convinced of the legality of the precedents established at Tangier, which he believes so insulting to Italy. If he cannot accept that decision nor the regulations adopted by the treaty, I must inform him that I do not consider it my place to discuss the matter, and much less my duty to institute reforms on the subject.

In conclusion, I must say to the consul general of Portugal, who declares, in allusion to the accord recently adopted by us, that all means are lawful, under present circumstances, that I do not accept, as dean, the character which he gives to the accord. I shall always be ready to consider the ideas of my colleagues when referred to me; but I am not pleased to know that the accord of one of them was compulsory.


I am satisfied with the explanations given by the minister of France to the interrogatories put to him by the consul general of Italy.

W. KIRBY GREEN, For the British Minister.

Considered. As I am acquainted with the resolutions of the international treaty of the 19th of March, 1819, I submitted the remarks which I made to our dean, and which he has answered. Though now torn in pieces, the treaty of Vienna is very precise on the subject of precedence of diplomatic employés. They are arranged in three classes; in the third paragraph of Article 1, it says the second class shall be composed of envoys, ministers, or other persons accredited to sovereigns. I will not dispute the grade of any one; but, as the representative of Italy in Morocco, I believe it my duty to claim the right of president of the light-house board, or of the board of health, as the case may be, or as dean of the diplomatic corps, under circumstances like the present, and will not consent that Italy, whose representative is equal to any others here, shall descend to an inferior position. As I answered last, my turn may never come round, yet I defend the principle because I believe it my duty to do so. I should have said this much before had I foreseen the complication. I beg the honorable dean to pardon me, and ask him to apply the old axiom, “better late than never.”


As I put no question to our honorable dean, the minister of France, I cannot accept his observations. I sided with the majority when the question of the local police came up; but, finding a great difference between police regulations and public health, I say the latter deserves the deep consideration of our board, whether on land or sea, particularly when we are threatened by an epidemic. The late accord was effected in a spirit of conciliation; because, as a sanitary board, we have no jurisdiction in the case. I am pleased to say that I agreed with the majority, because I thought I was doing good thereby. I would have acceded to any agreement proposed by the representatives to secure the public health of our city against the scourge now raging in so many other parts of Morocco. For that reason I said I would agree to any means to effect that end; and the same was said by the English minister, as shown in another portion of this long circular.


As the question brought up by our colleague of Italy is irrelevant, I move that this circular be closed, with the privilege of further discussion if called for.


Having read the preceding, I declare that I do not wish to dispute a point settled by the treaty of Vienna.


Previous to the treaty of Vienna, the uncertainty of the forms that regulated the intercourse between members of the diplomatic corps led to frequent and serious difficulties, [Page 168] and sometimes to wars. This treaty extirpated all these difficulties, as far as questions of precedence were concerned, and these had ever been found the most serious. It declared that every question of that nature should be settled by the rule of time. He who had been longest at a court or government is to be first. The relative power of the nation he represents is to count nothing. This is a rule satisfactory to small states, and it is to the praise of large ones that they established it. It applies to all intercourse where competition can arise, whether of business or ceremony. Hence the member of the corps last arriving pays the first visit. The rule does not overleap classes; it applies only to those of the same class. Now my honorable colleague of France, in responding to the inquiry of my honorable colleague of Italy, said “that he could give to him no better explanations than those derived from the treaty of Vienna, which has established the rules of precedence.” While this reply may be satisfactory to my honorable colleague of Italy, it falls short of carrying with it the conviction to my mind that my honorable colleague of France is the dean of the diplomatic corps in Tangier, and entitled to precedence. I claim he is not the dean.

I shall now quote that part of the treaty which is relevant to the position which I maintain on this subject:

“Article 1. Diplomatic agents are divided into three classes:

“First class.—Ambassadors, legates or nuncios.

“Second class.—Envoys, ministers, and other agents accredited by the sovereigns.

“Third class.—Chargé d’affaires accredited by the department of foreign relations.

“Article 4. Diplomatic agents of the respective classes (1, 2, 3) take rank according to the date of the official notice of their arrival.”

There are no representatives in Tangier belonging to the first class above recited. Each representative in Tangier, no matter what his title may be, belongs to the second class above recited; that is, if when he came here to reside in an official capacity, he brought with him a letter of credence from his sovereign, addressed to his Majesty the Sultan of Morocco. I am not aware that we have in our midst any representative of the third class above recited. It therefore remains to apply the rule of the treaty to the fact. The rule of the treaty is time. He who has been longest at a court of government is to be first at that court of government. The member of the corps last arriving pays the first visit. We (the accredited agents) are of the same class, (second class,) and take rank according to the date of the official notice of our arrived. Let me suggest a fact within the knowledge of all my colleagues, except the agent and consul general of Italy. On the arrival of our honorable colleague of France, he made us the first visit. It follows, then, that he has not been longest in our midst, but it does follow that every one of my colleagues, including myself, except my honorable colleague of Italy, have been accredited by our respective sovereigns to his Majesty the Sultan of Morocco, previous to the arrival of my honorable colleague of France. In what sense, then, is he entitled to precedence over the minister resident of Great Britain, the consul general of Sweden, the consul general of Portugal, the consul general of Belgium, the envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary of Spain, and the consul general of the United States? I hope each one of my honorable colleagues above named will give his individual opinion on this question, and let us all understand on what principle the second in juniority can be admitted to be the dean. If title regulated this question, there can be no doubt that Mr. Merry would take precedence over all of us; but by the terms of the treaty we all belong to the second class of representatives, and are on a perfect equality, except as to the question of seniority; the deanship and his higher title of envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary is regulated by time in the same manner as is the title of other accredited agents. Now, as time and not title regulates the question of precedence by explicit terms of the treaty, I suggest to all my honorable colleagues that a meeting be held some time this week to determine who is our dean; and in order to avoid for the present the question of seniority, I suggest that we shall meet at the residence of the junior member of the diplomatic corps, our honorable colleague of Italy.

In conclusion, I have the honor to say that I entertain for my honorable colleague of France, as a gentleman and representative, the highest degree of respect and esteem. I admire and acknowledge the great interest he has always manifested in the preservation and protection of the public health, and for the many sage opinions expressed by him, from time to time, in circulars submitted to him and my honorable colleagues. I will go further and say that it has always pained me to be compelled to differ from him on any question of public interest, and in an especial manner does it grieve me to differ from him on the question of seniority raised by our honorable colleague of Italy; and I must declare with perfect frankness, if that question did not affect the dignity of the representative of the United States in Morocco, I would have remained silent; but from my reading and interpretation of the treaty of Vienna, I cannot accord to him the title of doyen, nor can I admit that he is entitled to that distinction. I pray him, however, to have the goodness to pass the circular another time.


[Page 169]

I do not desire to continue a polemic in this circular upon a subject which does not concern sanitary matters, but I hope the perusal of my honorable colleagues of Italy and the United States of the accompanying printed paper will satisfy them that ministers plenipotentiary take precedence of other agents accredited to sovereigns, and that the latter are not included in the second class.

(Here the British minister resident quotes in a printed paper the treaty of Vienna, of June 9, 1815, and the protocol of Aix-la-Chapelle of 21st November, 1818.)

By the protocol of 21st November, 1818, it will be observed that ministers resident form an intermediate class between ministers plenipotentiary and chargé d’affaires. If other agents accredited to a sovereign belong to the second class, then I, as minister resident, would have to give precedence to a consul general accredited to the Sultan, who might arrive to-day, though I presented my letters of credence as agent and consul general in 1845, and as minister resident in June, 1860.

Having been instructed by the British government many years past to be guided by the treaty of Vienna in all questions of precedence with-my colleagues, I must clearly declare that though I am the representative who holds letters of credence to the Sultan of earlier date than any one of my colleagues, I cannot claim the position of doyen as long as there is a representative here who bears the rank of minister plenipotentiary.

Though I should be most happy to meet the wishes of my honorable colleague of the United States, and attend a meeting as he proposes, I think, after the above explanation and declaration, my presence at least would not be required.


Since the present circular does not concern the duties of the board of health since the 4th of March last, I propose that it be detached and sent to our honorable dean. I have carefully read Sir Drummond Hay’s remarks, and must say, that I think*the provisions of the protocol of Aix-la-Chapelle, of the 21st November, 1818, in relation to his diplomatic rank, do not affect the position accorded to me and my colleagues in Morocco by the treaty of Vienna. I must here repeat, that in the third paragraph of article first of said treaty, it is explicitly declared that the second class of diplomatic employ6s is composed of envoys, ministers, and others accredited to sovereigns. Now I am accredited by my august sovereign to his Majesty the Sultan, and consequently belong to the second class of diplomatic employé’s in Morocco. If I am not mistaken, article fourth of the same treaty confirms what I have advanced. Sere is the first section of that article: “Diplomatic employé’s shall take rank among themselves in each class according to the date of the official notification of their arrival.” Neither in this article, nor in the first, is there any mention of grades; only the elass is mentioned, and it is that class of diplomatic employés in Morocco to which I belong, by virtue of my letters of credence.

As I am not decorated with the title of minister resident, I cannot claim to belong to the third class reserved for that diplomatic grade; yet I never had the most remote idea of disputing the right of my honorable British colleague to belong to the second class, by virtue of his letters of credence to Morocco.

The British regulations of precedence among consuls is generally adopted by all the Christian powers, because there are diplomatic employé’s accredited to those nations, and they must have precedence, while consuls are only provided with an exequatur. Here my letters of credence as only representative of my august sovereign are accepted, and therefore I belong to the second class of diplomatic employé’s, by article first of the treaty of Vienna.

As I recognize the title of dean conferred upon our honorable colleague of France, not only in deference to his high grade but to his qualifications, I must decline the honor of seniority put upon me by the representative of the United States, because I regard it as already settled to the satisfaction of all, even of our honorable colleague, Mr. McMath.

My sole object in expressing this opinion is to show that the representative of Italy, by virtue of the treaty of Vienna, will have the same right to the title of dean of the diplomatic corps as any other representative.


The government of Morocco regards us as equals, without reference to the treaty of Vienna, and any partial discrimination would be an insult to the crowned heads which we represent; and I protest, in the name of my sovereign, against any discrimination.

Now, in reference to our diplomatic acts, in which precedence is discussed, I must adhere to the regulations of rank among diplomatic agents, (17th annex to the final act of the congress of Vienna,) signed by Count Palmella for Portugal, unless different instructions are given to me by my government. However, if the meeting of my honorable colleagues takes place, I will certainly attend, to try to settle the question mooted in the circular.


[Page 170]

I agree with the chargé d’affaires of Spain that it is not our business to discuss, or even interpret the regulations of the congress of Vienna, fixing the rank of diplomatic agents accredited to the same court. In my opinion, the question amounts to this: can consuls general and ministers accredited to the Emperor of Morocco pretend to belong to the second class of diplomatic employés, comprised under the denomination of envoys, ministers, or others accredited to sovereigns?

The words, “ministers or others,” in the regulations of the congress of Vienna, seems to put our colleague of Italy in the right; yet the congress of Aix-la-Chapelle clearly establishes the contrary, in saying that ministers resident, accredited like other envoys to sovereigns, are not considered as forming a part of the second class.

The case of agents accredited to sovereigns in certain countries outside of Europe, with the simple grade of consul general, was certainly not provided for by the plenipotentiaries of the treaty of Vienna, nor by the signers of the supplementary act of Aix-la-Chapelle; and if those personages had condescended to notice emploèys of that rank, they would have put them in a class between ministers resident and chargé d’affaires; for they could not be put above ministers resident nor below chargés, who are not accredited to sovereigns in Europe, but to ministers of foreign affairs.

Until it is decided by proper authority what relations consuls general in Morocco shall bear to the other envoys there, I have determined to be neither flesh nor fish. I will, however, attend the meeting proposed by our colleague from the United States, if only to relieve us from the circulomania that is now inflicting us.


The president has the honor to say to the French minister, that the circular, beginning with a demand for the pay of the Morocco guards stationed at the port of Tangier, and ending with a discussion about the regulations of the congress of Vienna, has just reached him. The president is not to blame because it skipped from North America to England, without passing through France.

The president now sends the said circular to the French minister, with the request that he keep it or circulate it, just as he pleases; as it does not concern the board of health, the president does not know what to do with it.

The president has the honor to inform the French minister that the circular in question was officially asked for by the consul general of Sweden and Norway. The President sent an official answer to the said consul general, informing him that the circular would be sent to him.

The French minister is, therefore, politely requested to hand it over.


I have nothing to add to this polemic, except to say, that, as my grade of French minister plenipotentiary comes to me from the Emperor, I leave it to his government to decide if I am dean of the diplomatic consular corps at Tangier. It will also decide the dispute with the agent and consul general of Italy. In the mean time, I concede to none the right to dispute my prerogatives, and, until it is otherwise decided, I shall know how to make them respected.

Now, gentlemen, allow me to add, that some of us are mistaken in affirming the equality of our grades. I think proper to inform you that those of us who are neither ministers nor chargé d’affaires, or agents, do not belong to the diplomatic body, but to the consular corps. The first of these two classes has generally the good taste not to make the second feel this distinction. For my part, I think I have always observed this rule, so as not to wound my true colleagues, and I give them all the same title. Hereafter I shall give to each his proper title. I do not mean by this to give offense, but I wish thus to determine the rank of each of us, in consideration of the singular question that has been put to me. I will inform the consul general of Portugal that he is mistaken in the equality he asserts. In all public ceremonies in Morocco, our grades are perfectly observed, and I will never allow it to be otherwise, as far as I am concerned. At the scheriff receptions and private audiences of the Sultan, foreign ministers have the privilege of taking seats, while consuls general of the Christian powers are obliged to stand in presence of his Majesty when seated on his throne. Does that signify that the nation of the agents who are not ministers is lessened in consideration? Most certainly not!

I have nothing more to say except that my opinion is fixed, and if it is not concurred in by my colleagues, they need not try to make me change it. I concede them no right to discuss the question, and if my diplomatic prerogatives are again contested, I shall appeal to my government, without saying anything more here.

In reference to the president’s request to keep this circular, I cannot comply with it. As it began with business concerning the presidency, it ought to go back to his archives. I will, however, send it to the consul general of Sweden and Norway, with the request that it be sent to the British legation, so that it may go round and be discussed by all. I will have nothing more to do with it.


[Page 171]

Postscript, July 25.—At a meeting held to-day the chargé d’affaires of Spain and the consul general of the United States, and of Sweden and Norway, asked for my opinion on the second part of the circular, and I told them I would retract nothing of what I had said.

A. D’A.

As the minister of France has no right to discuss and degrade the official position accorded to us by our respective governments, I can attach no importance to his personal opinion, since it has met with no response even from those whom he terms his true colleagues.

As the minister of France is alone in his unprovoked attacks, particularly hard on me, who never contested his prerogative in matters of etiquette against the representatives of Sweden and Norway, of Portugal, Belgium and the United States of America, it is beneath my dignity to refer the subject to my government.

It may be proper, however, to notice the schism of yesterday, which must operate to the detriment of civilization in Tangier. The fact has unfortunately transpired, and volumes of circulars could not reconcile us to the French minister’s opinion. Having declared that he would meet none of us officially at our own houses, he cannot be offended if we do not meet him officially in his, though our respective countrymen may suffer by the determination.

During the twenty years that I have lived in this country, the foreign representatives have always discussed and solved, under their different titles, (which I have ever respected,) in perfect equality, all questions of health, hygiene, and public order, which the exceptional situation of Morocco called upon us to solve for the general good of our countrymen and protegés. Yes, this inconvenient equality is inscribed here in all our intercourse with the authorities of Morocco; it was so in the old consular corps as it is now in the health board, and was in the recent convention for the Spartel light-house. So then, if the representative of France, or any other power, seats himself in the Sultan’s presence, the consul general of Sweden and Norway, as the representative of the united kingdoms, will also seat himself in the Sultan’s presence. Again, there is no question here about European courts and civilized countries, and the Sultan of Morocco did not sign the final act of the Vienna congress, nor the protocol of Aix-la-Chapelle.

Only yesterday the French minister acknowledged, in presence of all the foreign representatives, that a consul general in Europe, an unpaid commercial agent, even a merchant at times, under the order of the legation at the capital, held the same position as a consul general chief of a mission, accredited and representing his sovereign near a foreign sovereign.

In fact, we ought all to be pleased because the French minister is going to refer this matter to the imperial government.

I will not close without thanking the French minister for calling us his dear colleagues, at the risk of wounding his true colleagues.

We must be satisfied hereafter to be called simply consuls general; but we must not forget to maintain our rights.



J. H. Drummond Hay.

I am truly sorry for our dispute about the question I addressed to the French minister in this circular, on the 15th instant, styling him dean. But the honorable Baron Ayme d’Aquin’s declarations show I was right in asking the question, as he assumes the sole right to preside over the corps of foreign representatives in Morocco, as minister plenipotentiary, and to make known our determinations to the Sultan’s vizier for the public good.

This doctrine being contrary to all precedent in Tangier, and of a nature to give to the local athorities a false idea of the rank of our respective nations, I here declare that I do not accept it.

I for one do not contest the honorable gentleman’s rank; but my opinion is, that he errs in wishing to regard the representatives of the other powers in Morocco as if they were in France, or at courts that did not sign the treaty of Vienna.

Although consuls are generally considered as diplomatic agents, they do not rank with ministers at civilized courts, simply because they have no letters of credence; yet consuls to the Barbary States, particularly to Morocco, an independent nation, are exceptions to this rule, because they are accredited and treated as. ministers. (See Diplomacy, by Thomas Hartwell.)

With these principles, and as the questions are entirely foreign to etiquette, I am ready to continue to attend the meetings of the corps of foreign representatives at the French minister’s, whenever he will do me the honor to invite me; but at the same time I insist upon the same rules for the meetings of the board of health that have been held up to this date, and that they be fixed every six months, alternately presided over by the persons at whose house they take place.


[Page 172]

It was my intention merely to write approved upon all that is found in this voluminous circular, which serves to show us that the cholera is not at present in our city; had the cholera prevailed, I am sure we would have had neither time nor inclination to busy ourselves about such a useless discussion.

But as the French minister has addressed me again, to say that I am mistaken in the equality to which I lay claim, with remarks on other public ceremonies in Morocco, I deem it my duty to reply to him, and inform him that I know the difference between a consul general and a minister plenipotentiary.

Now, the sovereign of Morocco did not sign the final act of the congress of Vienna, nor the protocol of Aix-la-Chapelle, as our colleague of Sweden and Norway remarks. He did not adopt the principles there laid down, because he is not in the community of civilized nations, and God knows if he ever will be. If we turn to this country we will perceive changes coming over it. Morocco has no representatives in civilized communities, while various Christian powers are represented here; and though we bear different titles, we are equal before the Sultan and his government, and I will never consent to be treated as inferior to the French minister, or any other agent here. I do not aspire to a higher title than I possess, but knowing as I do that nobody here comprehends the treaty of Vienna, the treatment of the government towards us gives the people an idea of the inequality of position of our respective governments. Moreover, I think the Christian powers have no definite decision on ceremonies for their ministers and consuls in Morocco. The public audience takes place, as we all know, at the sheriff’s court; the Sultan is mounted on a horse that looks like his throne, and the envoy, minister, or consul stands before the sovereign. In private audiences the envoy or minister may be seated in his Majesty’s presence, but the consul, as representative of his sovereign, may demand the same privilege.

The Moors know no difference in diplomatic ranks, and every agent, whether minister plenipotentiary, minister resident, or chargé d’affaires, is embassador (bachador) to them. In their opinion, all diplomatic agents belong to the first class, as fixed by the treaty of Vienna.

The French minister proposes to give us hereafter our proper titles. He can do as he pleases in that particular; I see nothing insulting to us in it. I am only consul general, and he is minister plenipotentiary, as we all know. Each of us are heads of missions. I depend upon the minister of foreign affairs at Lisbon; am under no diplomatic chief here; and the French minister has a similar subordination to the minister of foreign affairs in Paris.

By virtue of our analogous positions, the French minister used to treat me as a colleague, as he did all the consuls general, and the Spanish and British ministers treated me in the same manner.


As my honorable colleagues of the consular corps have exhausted the subject, I can say nothing, except that I have never contested the prerogatives belonging to the rank which the French minister holds.


Approved for the Spanish chargé d’affaires, and signed for him, by


“Consular privileges are much less extensive in Christian than in Mohammedan countries. In the latter, they are diplomatic agents under the name of consuls. They alone are accredited and treated as ministers.” This is the opinion of Wheaton, Kent, Story, Leibnitz, and other illustrious writers of America and Europe on international law.

On the 25th ultimo Monsieur le Ministre of France declared in the presence of all the foreign representatives in Tangier, that a consul general—a commercial agent—in Europe, under the orders of the legation in the capital, had identically the same position as a consul general, chief of a mission accredited and representing his sovereign near a foreign sovereign. It remains for Monsieur la Ministre of France alone to differ from the above cited law writers. For myself I adhere to their opinion.