Historical Documents

of the United States of America

Treaty Of Peace And Friendship Between The United States Of America And His Imperial Majesty The Emperor Of Morocco ~ 1787

Signed 11 October 1787


     Sultan Sidi Muhammad Ben Abdullah, George Washington's counterpart, was guiding his own fledgling country of Morocco into nationhood in the late 1780s. He could see the value in entering into an alliance with the United States of America, and made contact with Benjamin Franklin. Franklin had been advised by the French government against an alliance with the north African country when he received a letter from Etienne D'Audibert Caille, a French merchant appointed as the Moroccan Consul, in December 1777. Franklin, following the advice of the French, initially ignored the Consul. The Moroccan Consul did not give up. He sent Franklin a second letter on 14 April 1778, followed by a letter to John Jay, then a diplomat in Madrid. And with no response to any of these entreaties, Caille sent a letter directly to the delegates meeting in the Second Continental Congress. Samuel Huntingdon, the then current President of the Congress, responded, in December 1780, with his intention to cultivate an alliance of peace and friendship with the country of Morocco.
     Delays followed delays, resulting in a resolution not being passed until Friday, 07 May 1784. On that date it was resolved: "That treaties of amity, or of amity and commerce, be entered into with Morocco, and the regencies of Algiers, Tunis and Tripoly, to continue for the same term of ten years, or for a term as much longer as can be procured." It was also resolved that a commission to develop such treaties be created, composed of J. Adams, B. Franklin and T. Jefferson. Apparently, the commissioners did not find the time or motivation to actually undertake the developent of a treaty with the north African country because nothing more was heard from them in regard to Morocco.
     The slowness of the American Congress to acknowledge his advances, led the Moroccan emperor to take an action to draw their attention. During the winter of 1784, The Sultan ordered the capture of an American ship, which he held until August 1785. The action was noted by Thomas Jefferson in a letter to a friend, in which he commented that the captured vessel and its crew had been taken care of and "cloathed well." And so, finally in October 1785, a delegate, Thomas Barclay, was sent by the Continental Congress as an ambassador to Morocco. He arrived there on 19 June 1786, and immediately set to work on negotiations for the treaty with Tahir Fannish, completing it by the middle of July. But delays again plagued the project; it took John Adams and Thomas Jefferson until January 1787 to sign the treaty for the American Congress. The treaty was finally ratified by the Congress on 18 July 1787.
     Known variously as the Treaty of Marrakech, the text, originally written in Arabic, is translated and transcribed below.


     WHEREAS the United States of America, in Congress assembled, by their commission bearing date the twelfth day of May, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-four, thought proper to constitute John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson their Ministers Plenipotentiary, giving to them, or a majority of them, full powers to confer, treat and negociate with the Ambassador, Minister or Commissioner of his Majesty the Emperor of Morocco, concerning a treaty of amity and commerce; to make and receive propositions for such treaty, and to conclude and sign the same, transmitting to the United States in Congress assembled, for their final ratification; and by one other commission bearing date the eleventh day of March, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-five, did further empower the said Ministers Plenipotentiary, or a majority of them, by writing under their hands and seals, to appoint such agent in the said business as they might think proper, with authority under the directions and instructions of the said Ministers, to commence and prosecute the said negociations and conferences for the said treaty, provided that the said treaty should be signed by the said Ministers: And whereas we the said John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, two of the said Ministers Plenipotentiary (the said Benjamin Franklin being absent) by writing under the hand and seal of the said John Adams, at London, October the fifth, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-five, and of the said Thomas Jefferson at Paris, October the eleventh, of the same year, did appoint Thomas Barclay, agent in the business aforesaid, giving him the powers therein, which by the said second commission we were authorized to give, and the said Thomas Barclay, in pursuance thereof, hath arranged articles for a treaty of amity and commerce, between the United States of America, and his Majesty the Emperor of Morocco, which articles, written in the Arabic language, confirmed by his said Majesty the Emperor of Morocco, and sealed with his royal seal, being translated into the language of the said United States of America, together with the attestations thereto annexed are in the following words, to wit:
     In the Name of ALMIGHTY GOD.
     This is a Treaty of Peace and Friendship established between us and the United States of America, which is confirmed, and which we have ordered to be written in this book, and sealed with our royal seal, at our Court of Morocco, on the twenty-fifth day of the blessed month of Shaban, in the year one thousand two hundred, trusting in God it will remain permanent.
     Article the First. We declare that both parties have agreed that this treaty, consisting of twenty five articles, shall be inserted in this book, and delivered to the Honorable Thomas Barclay, the agent of the United States now at our Court, with whose approbation it has been made, and who is duly authorized on their part to treat with us concerning all the matters contained therein.
     Article the Second. If either of the parties shall be at war with any nation whatever, the other party shall not take a commission from the enemy, nor fight under their colours.
     Article the Third. If either of the parties shall be at war with any nation whatever, and take a prize belonging to that nation, and there shall be found on board subjects or effects belonging to either of the parties, the subjects shall be set at liberty, and the effects returned to the owners. And if any goods belonging to any nation, with whom either of the parties shall be at war, shall be loaded on vessels belonging to the other party, they shall pass free and unmolested without any attempt being made to take or detain them.
     Article the Fourth. A signal or pass shall be given to all vessels belonging to both parties, by which they are to be known when they meet at sea; and if the commander of a ship of war of either party shall have other ships under his convoy, the declaration of the commander shall alone be sufficient to exempt any of them from examination.
     Article the Fifth. If either of the parties shall be at war, and shall meet a vessel at sea, belonging to the other, it is agreed that if an examination is to be made, it shall be done by sending a boat, with two or three men only, and if any gun shall be fired, and injury done without reason, the offending party shall make good all damages.
     Article the Sixth. If any Moor shall bring citizens of the United States or their effects to his Majesty, the citizens shall immediately be set at liberty, and the effects restored; and in like manner, if any Moor, not a subject of these dominions, shall make prize of any of the citizens of America, or their effects, and bring them into any of the ports of his Majesty, they shall be immediately released, as they will then be considered as under his Majesty's protection.
     Article the Seventh. If any vessel of either party shall put into a port of the other, and have occasion for provisions or other supplies, they shall be furnished without any interruption or molestation.
     Article the Eighth. If any vessel of the United States shall meet with a disaster at sea and put into one of our ports to repair, she shall be at liberty to land and reload her cargo without paying any duty whatever.
     Article the Ninth. If any vessel of the United States shall be cast on shore on any part of our coasts, she shall remain at the disposition of the owners, and no one shall attempt going near her without their approbation, as she is then considered particularly under our protection; and if any vessel of the United States shall be forced to put into our ports by stress of weather, or otherwise, she shall not be compelled to land her cargo, but shall remain in tranquility until the commander shall think proper to proceed on his voyage.
     Article the Tenth. If any vessel of either of the parties shall have an engagement with a vessel belonging to any of the Christian powers within gun-shot of the forts of the other, the vessel so engaged, shall be defended and protected as much as possible until she is in safety; and if any American vessel shall be cast on shore on the coast of Wadnoon, or any coast thereabout, the people belonging to her shall be protected and assisted, until, by the help of God, they shall be sent to their country.
     Article the Eleventh. If we shall be at war with any Christian power, and any of our vessels sail from the ports of the United States, no vessel belonging to the enemy shall follow until twenty-four hours after the departure of our vessels; and the same regulation shall be observed towards the American vessels sailing from our ports, be their enemies Moors or Christians.
     Article the Twelfth. If any ship of war belonging to the United States shall put into any of our ports, she shall not be examined on any pretence whatever, even though she should have fugitive slaves on board, nor shall the governor or commander of the place compel them to be brought on shore on any pretext, nor require any payment for them.
     Article the Thirteenth. If a ship of war of either party shall put into a port of the other and salute, it shall be returned from the fort with an equal number of guns, not with more or less.
     Article the Fourteenth. The commerce with the United States shall be on the same footing as is the commerce with Spain, or as that with the most favoured nation for the time being; and their citizens shall be respected and esteemed, and have full liberty to pass and repass our country and seapotsr [error in original] whenever they please, without interruption.
     Article the Fifteenth. Merchants of both countries shall employ only such interpreters, and such other persons to assist them in their business, as they shall think proper. No commander of a vessel shall transport his cargo on board another vessel, he shall not be detained in port longer than he may think proper; and all persons employed in loading or unloading goods, or in any other labour whatever, shall be paid at the accustomary rates, not more and not less.
     Article the Sixteenth. In case of a war between the parties, the prisoners are not to be made slaves, but to be exchanged one for another, captain for captain, officer for officer, and one private man for another; and if there shall prove a deficiency on either side, it shall be made up by the payment of one hundred Mexican dollars for each person wanting. And it is agreed that all prisoners shall be exchanged in twelve months from the time of their being taken, and that this exchange may be effected by a merchant or any other person authorized by either of the parties.
     Article the Seventeenth. Merchants shall not be compelled to buy or sell any kind of goods but such as they shall think proper; and may buy and sell all sorts of merchandize but such as are prohibited to the other Christian nations.
     Article the Eighteenth. All goods shall be weighed and examined before they are sent on board, and to avoid all detention of vessels, no examination shall afterwards be made, unless it shall first be proved that contraband goods have been sent on board, in which case the persons who took the contraband goods on board, shall be punished according to the usage and custom of the country, and no other person whatever shall be injured, nor shall the ship or cargo incur any penalty or damage whatever.
     Article the Ninteenth. No vessel shall be detained in port on any pretence whatever, nor be obliged to take on board any article without the consent of the commander, who shall be at full liberty to agree for the freight of any goods he takes on board.
     Article the Twentieth. If any of the citizens of the United States, or any persons under their protection, shall have any disputes with each other, the Consul shall decide between the parties, and whenever the Consul shall require any aid or assistance from our Government, to enforce his decisions, it shall be immediately granted to him.
     Article the Twenty-first. If a citizen of the United States should kill or wound a Moor, or on the contrary, if a Moor shall kill or wound a citizen of the United States, the law of the country shall take place, and equal justice shall be rendered, the Consul assisting at the trial, and if any delinquent shall make his escape, the Consul shall not be answerable for him in any manner whatever.
     Article the Twenty-second. If an american citizen shall die in our country, and no will shall appear; the Consul shall take possession of his effects, and if there shall be no Consul, the effects shall be deposited in the hands of some person worthy of trust, until the party shall appear who has a right to demand them, but if the heir to the person deceased be present, the property shall be delivered to him without interruption; and if a will shall appear, the property shall descend agreeable to that will, as soon as the Consul shall declare the validity thereof.
     Article the Twenty-third. The Consuls of the United States of America, shall reside in any seaport of our dominions that they shall think proper; and they shall be respected, and enjoy all the privileges which the Consuls of any other nation enjoy, and if any of the citizens of the United States shall contract any debts or engagements, the Consul shall not be in any manner accountable for them, unless he shall have given a promise in writing, for the payment or fulfilling thereof, without which promise in writing, no application to him for any redress shall be made.
     Article the Twenty-fourth. If any differences shall arise by either party infringing on any of the articles of this treaty, peace and harmony shall remain notwithstanding, in the fullest force, until a friendly application shall be made for an arrangement, and until that application shall be rejected, no appeal shall be made to arms. And if a war shall break out between the parties, nine months shall be granted to all the subjects of both parties, to dispose of their effects and retire with their property. And it is further declared, that whatever indulgences in trade or otherwise, shall be granted to any of the Christian powers, the citizens of the United States shall be equally entitled to them.
     Article the Twenty-fifth. This treaty shall continue in full force, with the help of God, for fifty years.
     We have delivered this book into the hands of the before mentioned Thomas Barclay on the first day of the blessed month of Ramadan, in the year one thousand two hundred.
     I certify that the annexed is a true copy of the translation made by Issac Cardoza Nunez, interpreter at Morocco, of the treaty between the Emperor of Morocco, and the United States of America. Thomas Barclay.
     I, THE under-written, the servant of God, Taher Ben Abdelkack Fennish, do certify, that his Imperial Majesty, my master, (whom God preserve) having concluded a Treaty of Peace and Commerce with the United States of America, has ordered me, the better to complete it, and in addition of the tenth article of the treaty, to declare, “That if any vessel belonging to the United States, shall be in any of the ports of his Majesty’s dominions, or within gun-shot of his forts, she shall be protected as much as possible, and no vessel whatever, belonging either to Moorish or Christian powers, with whom the United States may be at war, shall be permitted to follow or engage her, as we now deem the citizens of America our good friends.”
     And, in obedience to this Majesty’s commands, I certify this declaration, by putting my hand and seal to it, on the eighteenth day of Ramadan, in the year one thousand two hundred.
     The servant of the King, my Master, whom God preserve, TAHER BEN ABDELKACK FENNISH.
     I do certify that the above is a true copy of the translation made at Morocco, by Isaac Cardoza Nunez, interpreter, of a declaration made and signed by Sidi Hage Taher Fennish, in addition to the treaty between the Emperor of Morocco and the United States of America, which declaration the said Taher Fennish made by the express directions of his Majesty. THOMAS BARCLAY.
     NOW KNOW YE, That we, the said John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, Ministers Plenipotentiary aforesaid, do approve and conclude the said treaty, and every article and clause therein contained, reserving the same nevertheless to the Untied States in Congress assembled, for their final ratification.
     In testimony whereof, we have signed the same with our names and seals, at the places of our respective residence, and at the dates expressed under our signatures respectively.
     JOHN ADAMS, London, January 25th, 1787. THOMAS JEFFERSON, Paris, January 1st, 1787.
From Laws Of The United States Of America, Volume I, 1795, Pages 504-510. ~Also~ Journals Of The Continental Congress 1774-1789, Volume XXVI, 1928, Government Printing Office, Pages 361-362.