The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in France (Bullitt)

No. 1464

Sir: The Department desires that you seek an early occasion to reiterate to the French Government the hope of this Government that the necessary instructions may be issued to the French Protectorate authorities in French Morocco with a view to the settlement by them, in concert with the American Diplomatic Agent at Tangier, of certain claims of American nationals and protégés in French Morocco which have been outstanding for some years.

The claims in question are some seven in number, six of which involve American protégés and one the estate of an American citizen. There is enclosed a copy of a memorandum relating to the claims,39 which was handed by Mr. Blake, the American Diplomatic Agent at Tangier, to the French Resident General in French Morocco in 1934 when an effort was being made at that time to reach a settlement.

In the Department’s note to the French Chargé d’Affaires dated October 19, 1937,40 a copy of which was forwarded to you with the Department’s instruction no. 512 of October 26, 1937,41 the hope was expressed at that time that instructions such as those referred to above might be issued in order that outstanding problems affecting American interests in the French Zone might be solved to the mutual satisfaction of the two Governments.

Subsequently the Department instructed the Diplomatic Agent at Tangier, in a telegram dated November 19, 1937,42 that, upon being informed of the readiness of the French Government to negotiate a settlement of the claims, he might communicate with the French Protectorate authorities at Rabat in order to arrange the details which might appear appropriate to him. It was added that the Department considered that a simple procedure involving agreement on the part of the French authorities at Rabat to make assessment and payment [Page 671] of the damages in each case and the restoration of any property concerned would meet adequately the forms of the settlement.

In view of the failure of the French authorities to take action in the matter, the Diplomatic Agent was authorized on June 24, 1938,43 to approach the Protectorate authorities with a view to arranging the details of a settlement. Mr. Blake accordingly addressed a note on July 15, 193844 to the French Resident General at Rabat in this sense.

Moreover, in a note of August 23, 1938,45 the Department informed the French Chargé d’Affaires of the instructions issued to the American Diplomatic Agent at Tangier in this regard. A copy of the note was forwarded to you as an enclosure to the Department’s instruction no. 1047 of August 29, 1938.46

The French Residency General at Rabat informed the American Diplomatic Agent at Tangier in a note dated September 8, 1938, no. 331D47 that “by reason of the recent opening at Washington of negotiations relating to American capitulations”, the Residency General had transmitted to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Paris the Diplomatic Agent’s communication of July 15, 1938 on the subject of American claims. Mr. Blake has subsequently reported, in an informal letter dated April 10, 1939,46 of which a copy is enclosed, that there have been no subsequent developments in French Morocco with respect to the settlement of the claims.

While Mr. Blake states that the pecuniary damages involved in the claims do not exceed two or three thousand dollars each, except in the case of the claim of Abdel Aziz El-Yacoubi against the municipality of Meknes, the Department is desirous of obtaining a settlement of the claims, irrespective of their relatively minor character, before the relinquishment of American extraterritorial rights in French Morocco.48 It is desired, therefore, that you make known to the appropriate officials in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that this Government perceives no reason for any further delay in the making of arrangements between the French Protectorate authorities and the American Diplomatic Agent at Tangier for a settlement of the claims.

Very truly yours,

For the Secretary of State:
R. Walton Moore
  1. Not attached to file copy.
  2. Foreign Relations, 1937, vol. ii, p. 868.
  3. Not printed.
  4. Foreign Relations, 1937, vol. ii, p. 871.
  5. Foreign Relations, 1938, vol. ii, p. 881.
  6. Ibid., p. 882.
  7. Ibid., p. 885.
  8. Not printed.
  9. See despatch No. 1388, September 16, 1938, from the Chargé at Tangier, Foreign Relations, 1938, vol. ii, p. 886.
  10. Not printed.
  11. For correspondence relating to the proposed abolition of capitulatory rights of the United States in the French Zone of Morocco, see pp. 631 ff.