The Acting Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Spain (Laughlin)

No. 5

Sir: The Department has received Mr. Whitehouse’s confidential despatch No. 1416, dated November 25, 1929,28 in reply to its instruction No. 637 of November 6, 1929,29 relative to American claims in the Spanish Zone of Morocco, the details concerning which are set forth principally in despatch No. 311 of July 12, 1928,30 and despatch No. 433 of September 4, 1929, from the American Diplomatic Agent at Tangier.31 Copies of these despatches as well as others bearing on the matter were sent to your office by Mr. Blake.

The Department fails to understand the attitude of the Spanish Government towards these claims and remains of the opinion that the latter’s proposal for a settlement thereof on the basis of recognition [Page 606] of the Spanish Protectorate to be followed by the renunciation on the part of the United States of its capitulatory privileges in Morocco, constitutes a virtual repudiation of the agreement arrived at in the Joint Report.32

Viewing this case in its present status, the Department is inclined to lay down two general principles looking towards a satisfactory settlement; namely, it is of the opinion that these claims should be settled along the lines of the agreements reached by the Spanish Government’s plenipotentiary Plá, Mr. Blake, and later General Jordana, thereby precluding further negotiations or arbitration unless you suggest otherwise; and, it does not desire to discuss the question of renunciation of capitulatory privileges in Morocco in connection with or contingent upon the settlement of the American claims presented.

The Department feels that a consistent policy with regard to the matter of capitulations in the whole of Morocco should be maintained, and, having initiated such a policy in connection with identical questions in the French Zone of Morocco, it would be unwise to deviate, in principle, from that policy as regards other Zones. In other words, it is thought that the capitulations question in the French, Spanish, and Tangier Zones of Morocco should be settled integrally. It may be well to keep in mind also the fact that the surrender of our capitulatory rights in Morocco, which are based on treaty provisions, could not be accomplished except by new treaties subject to the approval of the Senate.

However, before taking further action in the matter, the Department desires to obtain any suggestions you may wish to make with a view to a satisfactory settlement of the claims, at the earliest practicable date after you have had an opportunity to study the matter carefully, keeping in mind the attitude of the Department and the action that has already been taken.

To assist you in formulating your opinions, you may wish to confer with Mr. Blake, who has handled the matter at Tangier and who is conversant with the details. Your conferences with him may develop the necessity for further discussions with the Foreign Office.

The Department will be pleased to receive your recommendations relative to a conference with Mr. Blake, together with information as to when and approximately how long you may desire his presence in Madrid.

A copy of this instruction is being sent to the American Diplomatic Agent and Consul General at Tangier.

I am [etc.]

J. P. Cotton