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

No. 1002

Sir: In reference to instruction No. 811 of July 24, 1934, I have the honor to transmit herewith a recapitulatory digest of violations of the Moroccan treaties by the French Protectorate Government or authorities, which have been the object of representations by this Diplomatic Agency on behalf of the Government of the United States.

Our complaints against the Franco-Shereefian Authorities fall into two categories (1) claims arising from violence to elementary principles of justice, and (2) violation of our conventional rights under the Moroccan treaties.

The first class of claims, involving the invasion of property rights, or the confiscation of property of individual American ressortissants, have been the object of separate representations to the French Resident General, and a précis of each of these claims was transmitted to the Department under cover of my No. 959 of July 19, 1934.37

As a result of my representations to Mr. Ponsot, (see my No. 958 of July 12, 1934, page 1237), directions have been given to the Protectorate Government Bureaus concerned to resume consideration of the claims, and, under my authority and instructions, the American Consul at Casablanca is now taking up these matters with the Bureau chiefs at Rabat. His reports of his initial contacts suggest that there are prospects of eventual settlement. The Department will be promptly informed of whatever developments occur in this direction.

The present despatch is concerned with complaints of the second category, namely, violations of American conventional rights under the Moroccan treaties.

These complaints are recapitulated on the annexed schedules,38 which set forth the available data in each case, in accordance with the specific indications of the Department’s instruction above mentioned.

The questions herein reviewed, fall under the following subdivisions:

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Violations of the Act of Algeciras

Regarding the granting of concessions. (See pages 1, 2 & 13 of annexed schedule).
Regarding the letting of contracts for public works and supplies. (See pages 2, 6 and 13 of annexed schedule).
Discriminatory legislation disregarding principle of economic equality. (See pages 5, 7 and 8 of annexed schedule).
Unilateral derogation by French Protectorate Government from provisions of Act of Algeciras. (See page 9 of annexed schedule).
Arbitrary assessment of dutiable value of imports in disregard of Articles 95 and 85 of Act of Algeciras. (See pages 10, 12 and 18 of annexed schedule).

Violations of Spirit of Act of Algeciras and of Specific Provisions of Anterior Treaties

Violation of liberty of private concerns in conduct of their business affairs, (See page 17 of annexed schedule).
Arbitrary restriction to trade and enterprise. (See pages 4, 11, 14, 16 and 19 of annexed schedule).
Innovations in taxation imposed on American ressortissants without previous consent of American Government. (See pages 3 and 5 of annexed schedule).

With the exception of item 4, under the heading “Violations of the Act of Algeciras,” all questions noted in the above list involve important principles, the failure to maintain which will inevitably and rapidly lead to the practical extinction of American rights to participate in the trade and economic activities of Morocco.

American rights and interests aggrieved by the action of the Protectorate Government, in the connections referred to, find no protection from the normal operations of American capitulatory powers in Morocco. This is obvious in such matters as the violation of the provisions of the Act of Algeciras concerning granting of concessions and of the letting of contracts for public works, and the application of discriminatory rebates on railroad and dock tariffs, in favor of locally manufactured articles.

In regard to other matters, such as the prohibition to import wheat and other cereals, and the arbitrary assessment of excessive import duties, the Moroccan Customs Authorities have material possession of the goods of American ressortissants, and refuse to deliver these, unless compliance is made with the arbitrary and illegal conditions imposed.

Again, in the matter of automobile taxation, which discriminates against American cars, American nationals or protégés owning American cars might be exempted from the taxation under the capitulatory régime, but this protection could not extend to the much greater number of non-American owners or would-be purchasers of American [Page 872] cars. These are the circumstances which make it so important to resist the discriminatory principles of the Moroccan automobile taxation, not for the protection of the few local American owners of American cars, but to safeguard the rights and opportunities in the Moroccan market, as a whole, of American automobile manufacturers.

On the other hand, however (and this point should be given the emphasis which its importance deserves), there are many instances in which extraterritorial jurisdiction affords the only safeguard for the maintenance of essential treaty rights. This becomes clear from the reservations with which the Department found it necessary to accompany its assent to Moroccan legislation, or to refuse entirely to allow American ressortissants to be subjected to certain Protecorate laws.

Some of these instances are recalled hereunder:

1. Law requiring commercial representatives to obtain from the local authorities special identity cards. (Dahir of May 7, 1920)

Refusal to assent to this law, which would subject American commercial travelers to useless and vexatious control.

2. Obligatory pilotage service at Casablanca. (Dahir of March 20, 1920.)

Reservation: Without prejudice to provisions of Article 89 [19?] of American-Moroccan Treaty of 1836 that no American vessel shall be detained in port under any pretext whatever.39

3. Law governing activities of goods brokers and of marine brokers. (Dahir of April 15, 1924)

Legislation aimed at confining these activities to French nominees.


Without prejudice to Article XV of American-Moroccan Treaty of 1836 allowing merchants to employ interpreters and such other persons as they shall think proper, in the conduct of their business.
Lack of endorsement by six members of French Chamber of Commerce, and lack of knowledge of French, shall not invalidate eligibility of American ressortissants to exercise profession of broker.
(N. B. French Resident General complained that these reservations rendered the law nugatory in regard to American ressortissants. Reservations maintained.)

4. Law on obligatory registration of traders. (Dahir of September 1, 1926)

Refusal to assent to this inquisitorial regulation which, moreover, purported to place under French control dissemination of information regarding American firms operating in French Morocco.

5. “Patente Tax.” (Dahir of December 12, 1929)

Reservation: Excepting American ressortissants from payment of additional tenths for support of French and Native Chambers of Commerce, American ressortissants being excluded from membership of these bodies.

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6. Law involving disturbance in commercial activities by periodical requisition of motor vehicles and animals for military purposes. (Dahirs of December 2 & 5, 1929)

Refusal to assent to application of these regulations to American ressortissants.

7. Law prohibiting entrance of workmen into French Zone, or their engagement by local concerns without prior assent of Protectorate authorities and prior visa of the contracts of employment involved. (Dahir of October 20, 1931)

Refusal to assent to the law.

8. Regulations governing privately owned radio sets in French Zone of Morocco. (Vizirial Decree of July 11, 1981)

Refusal to allow seizure of private installations, on pretext of military measures or general interest of public security. Emergency conditions invoked for such measures to be previously submitted to consideration of American Government.

9. Lam for repression of fraudulent activities on part of forwarding agents and persons engaged in customs clearance operations. (Dahir of September 15, 1932)


Inspection of documents and books of American concerns to be made only with prior assent and through intermediary of American Consul.
Refusal to recognize powers of an ad hoc Commission to prohibit access to premises of Customs House.

10. Law regulating operation of public passenger transportation by motor vehicle. (Dahir of February 6, 1933)

Refusal to assent to the law because it gave to a “Transport Commission” arbitrary powers in regard to the granting or refusal of licenses for such enterprise, on considerations of desirability of further competition on lines involved.

This legislation was enacted with the object of giving a virtually exclusive concession for motor transportation in the French Zone, to a French concern in which French motor car and automobile equipment manufacturers, and former high functionaries of the Protectorate, are the principal shareholders.

The pernicious object of this monopoly concern is to control the Moroccan market for automobiles and equipment, and thus restrict the freedom of competition on the part of American interests.

Freedom maintained for American ressortissants to engage in these enterprises, subject to the observance by them of conditions securing safety of passengers, and adequate obligatory insurance to cover contingent responsibilities of the concern.

A further Dahir, with the same objectionable provisions, favoring the same interests, was subsequently issued in regard to motor transport of merchandise.

In view, no doubt, of the refusal of the Department to assent to the Dahir on motor vehicle passenger transport, the Protectorate Government has not applied for the Department’s assent to the Dahir on motor vehicle transportation for goods.

11. Law imposing abusive restrictions upon development and sale of real property in urban districts. (Dahir of June 14, 1933)

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Refusal to apply the regulation to American ressortissants, and stating that “expropriation” measures concerning property of American ressortissants continued to be governed by the provisions in that regard of the Act of Algeciras.

It is obvious that but for the existence of our capitulatory privileges, the legitimate activities of American traders and concerns operating in Morocco, would find no protection against such samples of the arbitrary measures of the Protectorate legislation, as those above cited, to which the Department has refused to subscribe.

It is in view of such circumstances, my British colleagues inform me, that they consider the surrender of the capitulations by the British Government as a remote contingency, since British trade and interests in Morocco, without this safeguard, would inevitably suffer extinction under the cumulative force of attrition of ingenious legislative and procedural devices, in which the French administrative mind is so peculiarly fertile.

The situation, and complaints against the Administration, in the Spanish Zone of Morocco, will be treated in a separate despatch,40 which will be now taken in hand and will go forward without delay.

Respectfully yours,

Maxwell Blake
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  3. None printed.
  4. Malloy, Treaties, Conventions, etc., 1776–1909, vol. i, p. 1212.
  5. Despatch No. 1007, December 27, not printed.