381.11 Said. Sid Mohamed Ben

The Secretary of State to the Diplomatic Agent and Consul General at Tangier (Denning)

No. 221

Sir: The receipt is acknowledged of your despatch No. 20, of July 24, 1922, with reference to the objections raised by the French Residency General at Rabat to the designation of Sid Mohamed Ben Said as a semsar of the Vacuum Oil Company. From the Residency General’s communication of July 3, 1922, of which you enclose a copy, it appears that the refusal of the Maghzen to assent to the extension of American protection to this native is based on its opinion that his object in seeking such protection is not to advance the interests of the American company, but to secure impunity for political activities hostile to the authorities of the Protectorate. You request instructions concerning the reply to be made to the communication above mentioned.

The Department does not feel that it is in possession of sufficient information to enable it to instruct you specifically as to the reply to be made to the French Residency General’s communication of July 3, 1922, setting forth the objections of the Maghzen to the extension of American protection to Sid Mohamed Ben Said. As indicated in the Department’s instruction No. 201 of December 2, 1921,15 the propriety of the extension of American protection to native Moors employed as factors, brokers, or agents by American merchants is regarded [Page 598] by the Department as a matter for the exclusive determination of the appropriate representatives of this Government. Any objections which may be made by the Shereefian Government to the inclusion of specific individuals in the lists of American protégés are, of course, entitled to serious consideration, but in considering such objections it is necessary to bear in mind the importance of not unduly restricting the liberty of American merchants to choose for themselves the natives to be employed by them in their business affairs, as factors, brokers, or agents, and to be placed under American jurisdiction and protection pursuant to the provisions of treaties. It is obvious that a mere statement or suggestion by the Shereefian Government that an individual included in the list of American protégés is hostile or unfriendly to the authorities of the Protectorate is insufficient warrant for the withdrawal of American protection from such an individual.

It is noted that in the case of Sid Mohamed Ben Said the objections of the Shereefian Government or of the French Residency General have been based on different grounds at different times. If it be true, as stated by the Residency General, that this Moor has always made himself conspicuous by his hostility toward the authorities of the Protectorate, it seems remarkable that he was, notwithstanding his hostile attitude, permitted to continue as a public functionary, and that objection on the ground of his hostility to the authorities was not advanced at the outset.

The Department desires that you make a most thorough investigation respecting this matter, bearing in mind the foregoing observations and also the French practice of discouraging Moors from accepting semsarships, as set forth in your despatch No. 25,16 and that you submit a further report to the Department. In this connection reference is made to the Department’s instruction of even date16 in reply to your despatch No. 21 of July 26, 1922,16 in which you suggested a modification of the procedure at present observed in the issuance of “semsar certificates”.

I am [etc.]

Charles E. Hughes
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