The Secretary of State to the French Chargé ( Henry )

Sir: I have received and given careful consideration to your note of August 26, 1937, proposing the conclusion of an agreement between the United States and France, similar to that concluded between France and Great Britain on July 29, 1937, by which the latter country surrendered its capitulatory rights in the French Zone of Morocco. Your Government suggests that the agreement proposed might take the form either of an exchange of notes or that of a special convention and points out that the former procedure, which it states was followed when the United States obtained certain rights in the mandated territories of Syria and Palestine, would be more expeditious.

I observe that in your note reference is made to Article 25 of the American-Moroccan Treaty of September 16, 1836, which provides for the termination of the Treaty upon one year’s notice given by either party. In order that there may be no misunderstanding I think it is pertinent to point out that American capitulatory rights in Morocco are derived not only from the American-Moroccan Treaty of 1836 but also from other treaties, conventions or agreements and confirmed by long established custom and usage. It is unnecessary to enlarge upon this point since it seems to have been recognized by the French Government in the third paragraph of Article 10 and the second paragraph of Article 16 of the Anglo-French Convention of July 29, 1937, in both of which articles reference is made to the jurisdictional privileges enjoyed by the United States in Morocco “under treaties at present in force.” Moreover, as you probably are aware, the recognition by the Government of the United States of the Protectorate of France over Morocco was expressly made subject to subsequent negotiation between the United States and France respecting the capitulatory and other rights of the United States in Morocco.

As for the rights of the American Government in Syria and Palestine to which reference is made in your note, it will be recalled that those rights were defined as regards the former territory by the American-French Convention of April 4, 1924,24 and as regards the latter territory by the American-British Convention of December 3, 1924.25 As was explained in the correspondence leading up to the signature of those conventions, notably in a memorandum handed to the French Foreign Office by the American Embassy in Paris on August 9, 1921,26 [Page 869] this Government was not in a position to agree to the proposed disposition of the territory in question except by the negotiation of an appropriate treaty. Similarly, when the question of the surrender of American capitulatory rights in Morocco arose in 1916, the American Government explained in a note addressed to the French Ambassador in Washington under the date of July 1 of that year,27 that the most practicable procedure of divesting American Consular officers of their judicial functions in the French Zone of Morocco would be through the negotiation of a treaty providing for the surrender by the United States of its right to exercise consular jurisdiction in the French Zone.

Although the American Government is unable, for the reasons previously stated, to acquiesce in the French proposal for the surrender of American capitulatory rights in the French Zone of Morocco through the medium of an exchange of notes, it is quite ready to consider the surrender of such rights through the conclusion of a convention along the lines of the Anglo-French Convention of July 29, 1937.

It is observed that one of the exchanges of notes annexed to the latter Convention, a copy of which you were good enough to furnish, provides for the conclusion of a new treaty establishing the basis of commercial relations between Great Britain and Morocco. As you are aware, there is at present no adequate bilateral agreement defining the commercial relations between the United States and Morocco. The American Government would therefore desire to enter into negotiations for such an agreement in the form of a convention of commerce and navigation simultaneously with the proposed negotiations for a convention relating to capitulatory matters. Upon learning that your Government is in accord with this proposal I shall be glad to prepare and submit drafts of both conventions for its consideration. As was explained to you orally, at the time you left at the Department of State your note under acknowledgment, the American Government would wish to carry on the proposed negotiations in Washington.

During the time that the above-mentioned matters are under consideration by the two Governments I earnestly hope that the French Government will see its way clear to instructing the French Protectorate authorities at Rabat to concert with the American Diplomatic Agent at Tangier in the settlement of certain minor claims which have arisen with respect to American nationals and protégés in the French Zone of Morocco. Some of these claims date back for several years and although none of them, I believe, involves any large sum I am sure that the French Government will agree that the present is a propitious moment for their settlement in order that all outstanding problems [Page 870] affecting American interests in the French Zone may be solved to the mutual satisfaction of the two Governments. I expect, therefore, to instruct the American Diplomatic Agent at Tangier to approach the Protectorate authorities in this matter in the near future and I should like to be able in this connection to count upon the benevolent cooperation of the French Government.

Accept [etc.]

Cordell Hull